Doctors Try Genetically Modified Poliovirus As Experimental Brain Cancer Treatment

Excerpt:

“A genetically modified poliovirus may help some patients fight a deadly form of brain cancer, researchers report.

“The experimental treatment seems to have extended survival in a small group of patients with glioblastoma who faced a grim prognosis because standard treatments had failed, Duke University researchers say.

” ‘I’ve been doing this for 50 years and I’ve never seen results like this,’ says Dr. Darell Bigner, the director emeritus of the The Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center at the Duke Cancer Institute, who is helping develop the treatment.”

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Durable Responses Observed With Novel Oncolytic Therapy in Recurrent Glioma

Excerpt:

“In a pilot study of recurrent glioma, 26% of patients treated with the optimal dose of vocimagene amiretroprepvec (aka Toca 511), a novel oncolytic virus therapy, achieved durable, long-term responses and remained alive 3 or more years later. This outcome far exceeded ‘historical benchmarks’ for this poor-prognosis population, according to lead researcher Bob S. Carter, MD, PhD, the William and Elizabeth Sweet Professor and Chief of Neurosurgery at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston.”

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Re-engineered Cold Virus Increases Brain Cancer Patients’ Survival, Phase 1 Trial Shows

Excerpt:

“Re-engineering a common cold virus to attack the deadliest kind of brain tumor extended the survival of patients whose tumor returned after various treatments, including surgery, a Phase 1 clinical trial shows.

“While patients with glioblastoma usually live a median of six months, half were still alive at 9/12 months after receiving the re-engineered virus. And 20 percent lived for three years or longer.”

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T-VEC, Ipilimumab Regimen Improves Survival in Advanced Melanoma

Excerpt:

“The combination of an oncolytic virus plus a checkpoint inhibitor improved survival among patients with advanced melanoma compared with monotherapy, according to data from a phase 2 study published in Journal of Clinical Oncology.

“Novel monotherapies, such as ipilimumab (Yervoy, Bristol-Myers Squibb) — a CTLA-4 antibody — have ‘transformed patient care in advanced melanoma,’ the researchers wrote.”

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Immunotherapy Combination Safe and 62 Percent Effective in Metastatic Melanoma Patients

Excerpt:

“Immunotherapy is a promising approach in the treatment of metastatic melanoma, an aggressive and deadly form of skin cancer; but for most patients, immunotherapy drugs so far have failed to live up to their promise and provide little or no benefit. In a phase 1b clinical trial with 21 patients, researchers tested the safety and efficacy of combining the immunotherapy drug pembrolizumab with an oncolytic virus called T-VEC. The results suggest that this combination treatment, which had a 62% response rate, may work better than using either therapy on its own. The study appears September 7 in the journal Cell.”

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Positive Results from First Randomized Study Assessing T-VEC/Ipilimumab Combo in Advanced Melanoma

Excerpt:

“The addition of T-VEC (T-VEC; Imlygic), a herpes simplex virus 1-based oncolytic virus, to CTLA-4 inhibitor ipilimumab (Yervoy) improves the objective response rate (ORR) in patients with unresected stage IIIb to IV melanoma, according to findings presented at the 7th European Post-Chicago Melanoma/Skin Cancer Meeting.

“T-VEC was the first approved oncolytic virus therapy in Europe, the United States, and Australia, and its efficacy was previously demonstrated in a phase III trial comprising patients with advanced unresectable melanoma.”

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Melanoma News at ASCO 2017: Combination Treatments


There are many hopes that combining immune checkpoint inhibitor drugs, or combining them with drugs of other types (immunotherapy, targeted therapy, or chemotherapy) is the future of treatment for many kinds of cancer. Literally hundreds of clinical trials are actively exploring these combinations, and melanoma is the cancer for which trials of this type abound. Last month, the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) in Chicago featured just a few presentations in this area, apparently because it is too early to report results from the many ongoing trials with drug combinations. Continue reading…


Clinical Trials Test Treatments for High-Grade Brain Tumors


With a few exceptions, glioblastoma (GBM) remains largely incurable, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved few treatments for the disease. Surgery (when feasible), radiation, and temozolomide are used in most patients. But even if a newly diagnosed tumor can be surgically excised, recurrences are too common.

In this blog post, I simply list some of the new treatments available in clinical trials for GBM and other high-grade brain tumors. Only drugs that have at least some preliminary results of activity are included, and the list is not meant to be fully comprehensive. The interested reader can judge for herself what might be of interest, keeping in mind that no single treatment is suitable or will work for all GBM patients. Continue reading…


ASCO Immunotherapy Preview: These Cancer-Killing Viruses May Save Lives

“The closely watched annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) is about to kick off in Chicago, and if the last few years are any indication, immunotherapy will likely steal the show. Cancer researchers have been perfecting all sorts of ways to stimulate patients’ immune systems to fight cancer, from chimeric antigen receptor T-cells (CARTs) now being tested in blood cancers, to ‘checkpoint inhibitors’ like Bristol-Myers Squibb’s blockbuster melanoma treatment Yervoy (ipilimumab). But this year, an up-and-coming class of immune-boosting drugs could draw attention at ASCO—viruses that are specially engineered so they destroy tumors and then prime patients’ immune systems to continue fighting off their cancer.

“Virus-based cancer treatments, sometimes referred to as ‘virotherapy,’ constitute a fast-growing niche within immunotherapy, and one that is generating a tremendous amount of excitement in the oncology world this year. The idea has actually been around since the late 1800s, when physicians first realized that some viruses have a natural ability to kill cancer cells. But these so-called oncolytic viruses didn’t start breaking out until recently, as advances in genetic engineering have made it feasible to manipulate the virus’ genomes—recreating them, if you will, into supercharged cancer-killing machines that attack tumors but leave normal tissues alone.”