University of Minnesota Begins Phase I First-in-Human Clinical Trial for Glioblastoma; Novel Immune-Directed Approach, Advanced by Work on Glioblastomas Developing Naturally in Dogs, Could Be “Landmark Breakthrough” in Treatment of Rapidly Fatal Disease

Physicians and scientists at the University of Minnesota have opened a new brain cancer clinical trial and have treated their first patient. This Phase I, first-in-human trial is enrolling patients with a specific type of brain cancer, glioblastoma. The development for this innovative treatment is based on years of research by Michael Olin (photo), PhD, and Christopher Moertel, MD, researchers in the University of Minnesota Medical School’s Division of Hematology and Oncology, Department of Pediatrics, as well as a high-grade canine clinical trial conducted by G. Elizabeth Pluhar, DVM, PhD, DACVS, in the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine’s Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences. The researchers are also members of the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota. “Our research found that the CD200 protein was acting as a protective shield inside a person’s brain tumor, effectively preventing the immune system or immune-directed therapy from attacking the tumor,” said Dr. Olin. “The CD200 checkpoint inhibitor that we developed, along with a proven vaccine, has shown amazing results in our tests and has the potential to have fewer adverse effects for patients.” Prior to being available to human patients, Dr. Olin and Dr. Moertel partnered with Dr. Pluhar at the College of Veterinary Medicine to treat pet dogs that spontaneously developed brain cancer. The CD200 checkpoint inhibitor, when added to a cancer vaccine therapy, increased their canine patients’ survival time by about 18 months after diagnosis compared to vaccine therapy alone. These tumors ultimately do recur in both dogs and people, but the time to regrowth was greatly extended in the dogs that received the experimental therapy, and their quality of life during treatment was excellent.
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