A phase I clinical trial that set out to assess the safety of a new combination therapy for a type of aggressive brain tumor has found the treatment to be well tolerated in patients. Because The trial used a treatment combination of ADI-PEG20, pemetrex and cisplatin; which showed encouraging efficacy in patients with recurrent high-grade gliomas (HGGs); a disease for which little progress is make over the last few decades.

Standard chemotherapies

In the trial, led by Professor Peter Szloserek from Queen Mary University of London and Barts Health NHS Trust, ten patients with heavily pre-treated; therefore recurrent HGG are treat with ADI-PEG20 in combination with standard chemotherapies pemetrex and cisplatin.

This clinical work built upon pre-clinical studies perform at Queen Mary’s Barts Cancer Institute (funded by Cancer Research UK) and Imperial College London (funded in part by Brain Tumour Research); which identify that ADI-PEG20 can enhance the effects of other standard chemo therapies such as pemetrex and cisplatin.

Normal cells are able to generate their own supply of the essential amino acid arginine, which is require for a variety of cellular processes. However this capability is lost in many tumor types due to the downregulation of the ASS1 enzyme require for arginine production. Consequently, tumor cells rely on the arginine supply in the blood stream, a vulnerability that can be exploited therapeutically. ADI-PEG20 works by depleting arginine in the blood; thus ‘starving’ tumors of this essential amino acid.

Important steps

Combining the concept of arginine deprivation with pemetrexed and cisplatin has proven efficacious in other cancer types; including treatment-resistant ASS1-deficient mesothelioma or non-small cell lung cancer. Because The findings of the trial; published in Clinical Cancer Research; are an important step forward for this historically under-funded area of research; for which there is a very poor prognosis and no recognized standard of care treatment currently.

Sue Farrington Smith, Chief Executive, Brain Tumor Research said; “Poor funding for research has meant options and outcomes for brain tumor patients haven’t improved in line with other forms ; of cancer where the research is better find. We must change this. The collaboration of two of our research centers shows that progress is make and spurs on our efforts to work with the Government ; therefore and larger cancer charities to make sure there is a better future for those diagnosed with this devastating disease and their families.”

Developing a biomarker

Dr Peter Hall; first author of the study and the main Specialist Registrar for the trial at Barts Health NHS Trust; said: “This trial represents an important first step in developing a biomarker-led approach to treating recurrent high-grade gliomas; a disease which has lack funding historically and for which the outlook remains very poor. Because ” As the treatment is show to be well tolerate in patients; therefore the results of this trial pave ; the way for a phase II trial to include a larger patient cohort to further assess efficacy; which is currently being develop.