New phase 2 clinical trial testing immunotherapy drug announced

Wednesday 7 February 2018

A phase 2 clinical trial testing an immunotherapy drug called ipilimumab to treat patients with glioblastomas has been announced in the United Kingdom

Glioblastoma is an aggressive type of brain tumour that affects approximately 2,200 individuals in the United Kingdom each year. The current standard of treatment for this tumour type consists of surgical removal of the tumour, accompanied with radiation therapy and chemotherapy.

Despite patients undergoing a rigorous treatment regimen, survival rates are low, making it crucial for the assessment of new therapies.

Immunotherapy is a type of therapy that involves the body's own immune system to fight cancer cells. In order to do so, the immune cells have to recognise the tumour cells as “foreign material" and kill them.

Immunotherapy drugs such as ipilimumab stimulate the immune cells to recognize the tumour cells and kill them.

The phase 2 clinical trial testing ipilimumab will be led by Dr Paul Mulholland at the National Hospital of Neurology and Neurosurgery in London, with six other participating centres across the United Kingdom.

The trial will recruit 120 patients, with 80 of the 120 patients receiving the drug after undergoing conventional treatment of chemotherapy and radiation therapy. The remaining 40 patients will receive only conventional treatment.

The treatment involves four infusions over 12 weeks and the first patients are expected to begin treatment in May.

The basis of this trial has been a prior study which has showed promising results upon testing ipilimumab in a small group of patients.

Furthermore, ipilimumab has demonstrated improved survival in patients with melanoma. Thus, if this trial is successful, it could have a significant clinical impact.

Full details of the trial have not been announced and individuals interested in participating must speak with their oncologist.