Phase I Immunotherapy Trial for Treatmenty of Malignant Gliomas at The Jefferson Brain Tumor Center
David W. Andrews, MD, FACS
This human Phase I trial involves taking the patient’s own tumor cells at surgery, treating them with an investigational new drug (an antisense molecule) designed to shut down a targeted surface receptor protein, and re-implanting the cells, now encapsulated in small diffusion chambers less than the size of a dime in the patient’s abdomen between the rectus sheath and muscle within 24 hours after the surgery. Loss of the surface receptor causes the tumor cells to die in a process called apoptosis. As the tumor cells die, they release small particles called exosomes, each full of tumor antigens. We believe that these exosomes as well as the presence of the antisense molecule work together to activate the immune system against the tumor as they slowly diffuse out of the chamber. Immune cells are immediately available for activation outside of the chamber because a wound was created to implant these tumor cells and a foreign body (the chamber) is present in the wound. The wound and the chamber fortify the initial immune response which eventually leads to the activation of the immune system to recognize the tumor. By programming the immune system with T cells that attack and eliminate the tumor, the patient is also protected through immune surveillance from later tumor growth should the tumor recur. Compared to treatment alternatives for tumor recurrence, including a boost of further radiation and more chemotherapy, this treatment represents potentially greater benefit with fewer risks.