The treatment IMA950, is a vaccine developed specifically for glioblastoma which is an aggressive form of glioma. The vaccine will direct and boost the body’s immune system to enable it to fight cancer. The vaccine will be used together with the standard treatments of surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
IMA950 contains 11 peptides – strings of amino acids – that are found on the surface of glioblastoma tumours but not on the surface of healthy cells. These peptides when incorporated into the vaccine ‘train’ T cells in the immune system to recognise cancer cells as unhealthy cells – and then to target and destroy them.
Using a large number of peptides compared with a small number increases the chance of a beneficial immune response.
The launch of the trial is the result of Cancer Research UK’s innovative Clinical Development Partnerships (CDP) scheme.
CDP is a joint initiative between Cancer Research UK’s Drug Development Office and Cancer Research Technology, to put drugs that otherwise cannot be developed by pharmaceutical companies through early phase clinical trials. Trials of experimental drugs such as this may have not been possible without this initiative, which strives to deliver the latest potential treatments to cancer patients – and increase survival.
Up to 45 patients newly diagnosed with this form of glioma will take part in this first trial of IMA950 and receive a number of doses of the vaccine.
The trial, is taking place at the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre in Glasgow and up to four other hospitals yet to be confirmed across the UK. The trial has been set up through Cancer Research UK’s Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre network and it will be managed by the charity’s Drug Development Office (DDO).
Under the terms of the partnership, Cancer Research UK is funding the trial and after the trial, immatics biotechnologies will have an option to further develop and commercialise the drug in exchange for future payments to the charity.
Nigel Blackburn, director of drug development at Cancer Research UK’s Drug Development Office, said: "It’s really great news that we have launched this trial for a vaccine which could boost the current treatment for brain cancer.
"Our scientists are working at the cutting edge of the field to find new and powerful ways to treat cancer. Using the immune system to fight cancer is an exciting area of research and something we are heavily investing in as a promising way to treat a broad range of cancers."
Dr Ian Walker, Cancer Research Technology’s licensing manager, said: "This is a truly collaborative deal between our world-class scientists and immatics biotechnologies to ensure promising therapeutic programmes reach patients."
Harpreet Singh, CSO of immatics said: "We are delighted to have joined forces with Cancer Research UK and the University of Glasgow to fight brain cancer. It is pleasing to see that the very first patients have now begun treatment with IMA950 – this is a major step on a path to create a highly innovative new treatment for this deadly disease."
Professor Roy Rampling, from the University of Glasgow who will lead the study nationally said: "One of the hardest parts of my job is telling someone they have brain cancer.
"Glioblastoma can be challenging to treat because there are limited options for therapy – there’s a real need for new treatments for this disease."