Brigham Researchers Design Gene Therapy That Can Effectively Target Glioblastoma; Phase 1 Clinical Trial Findings with Engineered Oncolytic Virus Are “Exciting;” Nature Article


In a first-in-human phase 1 trial in 41 patients with recurrent glioblastoma, an oncolytic virus treatment designed by Brigham researchers extended survival, especially among those with pre-existing viral antibodies. Glioblastoma (GBM), an aggressive brain cancer, is notoriously resistant to treatment, with recurrent GBM associated with survival of less than 10 months. Immunotherapies, which mobilize the body’s immune defenses against a cancer, have not been effective for GBM, in part because the tumor’s surrounding environment is largely impenetrable to assaults from the body’s immune system. To convert this immunosuppressive environment into one amenable to an immune response, investigators from Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), a founding member of the Mass General Brigham healthcare system, engineered an oncolytic virus to turn glioblastoma’s “immune desert” into an inflammatory cancer-fighting zone. Results, published in Nature, demonstrated the safety and preliminary efficacy of the novel gene therapy approach in high-grade glioma patients, with prolonged survival in a subgroup of recurrent GBM patients immunologically “familiar” with the virus. The open-access Nature article is titled “Clinical Trial Links Oncolytic Immunoactivation to Survival In Glioblastoma” and is accompanied by a Nature News & Views article titled “An Engineered Virus Shows Potential As an Immune Therapy In Glioblastoma.”

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