Second Viral Therapy Clinical Trial Opens for Recurrent Brain Tumors

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Dr. Rohan Ramakrishna

Dr. Rohan Ramakrishna will head up a new clinical trial for adult patients with recurrent glioblastoma or gliosarcoma, testing the effectiveness of a genetically modified adenovirus against the tumor when combined with an immune checkpoint inhibitor. Weill Cornell Medicine is one of only a handful of locations in the United States enrolling patients in this innovative trial.

In this new trial, a patient whose glioblastoma (GBM) or gliosarcoma has recurred will be given one injection of the genetically modified adenovirus DNX-2401, delivered directly into the tumor through a burr hole.  The injection will be followed by regular IV infusions of pembrolizumab, an immune checkpoint inhibitor intended to spur the body’s own immune system to attack the tumor. By combining viral therapy with an immune checkpoint inhibitor, the goal is to attack the tumor in a multi-pronged way by combining the tumor-killing effects of the virus with the power of the immune system.  The infusions will be given every three weeks for up to two years to monitor their effectiveness against the tumor.

This trial involves both precisely administered intra-tumoral injection of virus by neurosurgery and systemic administration of pembrolizumab by neuro-oncology. This is precisely the type of teamwork that is required for success in the treatment of brain cancers.

Glioblastoma and gliosarcoma are two of the most difficult brain tumors to treat, as they have proved resistant to surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. Gene therapy and immunotherapy are cutting-edge technologies aimed at inoperable and recurrent brain tumors, holding out new hope for patients with these diagnoses.

This new clinical trial complements the viral gene therapy trial announced in March, in which researchers are testing the retroviral replicating vector Toca 511 used in combination with an oral medication called Toca FC.  In that trial, the tumor is resected and the replicating vector is injected into the surrounding brain. This vector replicates in any residual tumor cells and converts inactive chemotherapy into active chemotherapy thereby killing the tumor cell and avoiding systemic side effects. Together, these two new clinical trial offer advanced options for patients facing malignant gliomas.

For more information, contact Dr. Rohan Ramakrishna at 212-746-1996.

More about this new trial     More about the Toca 511 trial

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