US doctors test new glioblastoma drug treatment

The first results, though only at early clinical trial stage, remain positive.

An experimental cancer drug, durvalumab, is being tested as a re-purposed brain tumour treatment for glioblastoma.

Results from the first stage of the testing were presented last week at an American immune system therapy conference that showed six of the first 30 patients treated for their glioblastoma showed no signs of deterioration after six months.

The plan is to test the drug on a total of 148 patients.

The results, though low statistically are nevertheless approximately double the benefit that patients get from present glioblastoma treatments.

Durvalumab is a type of human antibody from a category knows as checkpoint inhibitors. Effectively, they inhibit the cancer cell's ability to hide from the body's own immune system.

David Reardon, clinical director of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, acknowledged that the results were 'promising but very preliminary'.

Newcastle University's head of neurobiology, Dr Elizabeth Stoll, not associated with the US study, commented to The Times newspaper that the research was a good example of 'creative thinking' in the field of brain tumour research.

She added that “there's a great need to do more work to find new biomarkers for diagnosis and prognosis."

Dr David Jenkinson, The Brain Tumour Charity's Chief Scientific Officer said: “The study highlights the exciting possibilities of antibodies harnessing the body's own immune system to tackle brain tumours. Despite the study being at the early preliminary stage at present, it provides hope for future treatments."