A world-first trial will test an experimental brain cancer treatment which targets the surface of tumour cells expressing a cancer protein called EphA3.
The drug has already shown successful results in phase I clinical trials for leukaemia patients, and cancer scientists are now keen to test its effectiveness on solid tumours.
This world-first clinical trial on patients suffering from recurrent Glioblastoma (GBM) resulted from major discoveries by a team of scientists at the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research (LICR) and Monash University.
Dr Bryan Day and Dr Brett Stringer, who led the research at QIMR Berghofer, said the study builds on work carried out by the collaborative research team for over more than a decade.
“The protein – EphA3 – was discovered by QIMR Berghofer scientist Professor Andrew Boyd in 1992,” said Dr Day.
Dr Stringer said the upcoming GBM trial would be the first test of the drug against solid tumours, as opposed to blood cancers.
“Unfortunately most new drugs tested for GBM have returned disappointing results and patients have very few treatment options,” he said.
“Once we begin recruiting, this study will have an immediate impact by giving patients access to an innovative treatment which has shown great potential in laboratory testing.”
GBM is the most common primary adult brain cancer and is almost always fatal, killing about 1,000 Australians every year.
Dr Day and Dr Stringer said this trial gives researchers an excellent start to developing a much-needed treatment for patients with aggressive GBM.
“The study will determine how patients tolerate the drug and how their tumours respond,” they said.
“There is also a very important imaging component with brain scans to be performed to detect the borders of the tumours and determine how much of the drug crosses from the blood into the brain to reach the tumour.”