Researchers reported a number of important findings in brain cancer treatment at the 2017 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology:

Immunotherapy being evaluated in the treatment of glioblastoma and other high-grade brain tumors

Immunotherapy is a promising area of research for the treatment of brain cancer, including glioblastoma and other high-grade brain tumors. There are more than a dozen trials underway that are studying immunotherapies such as T-cell therapies, anti-PD-1 drugs, checkpoint inhibitors, and combinations of different types of immunotherapies.

One of these studies is KEYNOTE-028, which is evaluating the immunotherapy pembrolizumab in patients with recurrent disease. In early results, pembrolizumab produced a higher overall response rate than the FDA-approved bevacizumab, a drug that reduces the blood supply in tumors. Pembrolizumab also showed a more durable response than bevacizumab.

What Patients Need to Know

Pembrolizumab is also being tested as a treatment for glioblastoma in several trials that combine it with bevacizumab, precision radiation, the chemotherapy temozolomide, and other treatments.

Personalized peptide vaccines being studied for the treatment of refractory glioblastomas

A number of studies are focused on identifying specific mutations in refractory (not responding to treatment) glioblastomas and developing personalized peptide vaccines that are matched to the mutation. The specific mutations are identified through “whole genome sequencing,” the mapping of a person’s unique DNA.

What Patients Need to Know

Peptides are short chains of amino acids; peptide vaccines are designed to mount a response against the glioblastoma tumor. An area of focus is the effectiveness of administering peptide vaccines after other therapies, such as radiation and the chemotherapy temozolomide, and to add immunotherapy to the regimen.

Investigational targeted therapy being tested for the treatment of recurrent glioblastomas

A phase ll multi-center trial was designed to determine the safety, tolerability, and efficacy of the investigational targeted therapy VB-111 (ofranergene obadenovec) in patients with recurrent glioblastoma.

A total of 46 patients were enrolled in two cohorts. In the first cohort, patients were treated with one dose of VB-111 and, upon progression of the cancer, were switched to the targeted therapy bevacizumab. In the second cohort, patients continued to receive treatment with VB-111 after progression of the cancer, in combination with bevacizumab.

What Patients Need to Know

The data pointed to a favorable anti-tumor effect of ongoing treatment with VB-111 in terms of both regression rate and overall survival, compared to brief exposure to VB-111 with subsequent Avastin monotherapy, and to historical results of Avastin monotherapy.

Trial to study addition of targeted therapy drug to standard therapy for newly-diagnosed glioblastomas

The phase IIb/III Intellance1 trial will seek to determine if ABT-414 (depatuxizumab mafodotin), given in combination with radiation and the chemotherapy temozolomide, improves the survival of patients with newly-diagnosed, epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)-positive glioblastoma.

Participants in the trial will be randomized to one of two groups, receiving either intravenous ABT-414 combined with the standard therapy of oral temozolomide plus radiation (the experimental group) or oral temozolomide and radiation plus a placebo (the comparison group).

What Patients Need to Know

ABT-414 is an investigational targeted therapy drug; specifically, a monoclonal antibody drug conjugate. Participants in the experimental arm will also receive ABT-414 plus oral temozolomide during a second phase of treatment.