Treating diffuse midline gliomas with an oncolytic virus

Monday 14 May 2018

Results from a phase 1 clinical trial of the oncolytic virus DNX-2401, report successful intratumoral delivery of the virus in children with diffuse midline glioma

Diffuse midline glioma, formerly known as diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG)*, is a type of primary, high-grade brain tumour occurring in children. It is one of the most fatal paediatric brain tumours, with less than 1% of patients diagnosed surviving more than 5 years.

The dismal prognosis of diffuse midline glioma can be attributed to its location within the brain, the brain stem. The brain stem is difficult to access, making it impossible to surgically remove the tumour using current technology.

The current standard of care prescribed to treat diffuse midline glioma is radiation therapy. However, this is not a cure and only serves to reduce the symptoms temporarily, making it essential to develop new and effective treatments for this tumour type.

One such treatment is being developed and tested by the research team led by Sonia Tejada, a neurosurgeon at Clínica Universidad de Navarra, in collaboration with DNAtrix, a biotechnology company. They are currently leading a phase 1 clinical trial in children with diffuse midline glioma to evaluate the safety, delivery and efficacy of an oncolytic virus called DNX-2401.

An oncolytic virus is a virus that has the ability to infect and destroy tumour cells, also known as having an “oncolytic" effect. The virus preferentially targets cancerous cells, leaving normal cells unharmed. It also triggers an immune response, which helps the body's own immune system recognise and attack the tumour cells.

The results of the trial demonstrate that the virus can be safely injected near the brainstem and is well tolerated by patients.

This innovative treatment is addressing the acute need to effectively treat this highly aggressive cancer. If the clinical trials are successful, this research could have a significant impact on children diagnosed with diffuse midline glioma, as it could provide them with a new treatment option.

Read more here.

*Following the 2016 revision to WHO classification, this tumour is now known clinically as “Diffuse Midline Glioma- Pontine Location H3 K27M.

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