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Brain tumour vaccine set for trial

Posted on: 10/19/2010

Brain tumour vaccine set for trial

A groundbreaking brain tumour vaccine is to undergo its first clinical trial in the UK.

The drug, called IMA950, is designed to help the body's immune system fight glioblastoma, a deadly and common form of brain cancer.

A total of 45 newly diagnosed patients will take part in the early Phase I trial at the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre in Glasgow and up to four other hospitals across the UK.

The vaccine contains 11 peptides - strings of protein material - that are found on the surfaces of tumours but not healthy cells. Their presence helps to "train" immune system defenders called T-cells to recognise, target and destroy the unhealthy cells that make up brain tumours.

Other brain tumour vaccines have been tested on patients but none work in the same way. IMA950 is unique in that it offers the immune system multiple targets, thus increasing the chances of success.

The trial is being funded by the charity Cancer Research UK under a scheme set up to test drugs that would not otherwise be developed by pharmaceutical companies.

Its cost is not being disclosed for commercial reasons, but a Phase I trial of this type typically costs around £2 million.

Taking the vaccine forward will depend on a deal struck between Cancer Research UK and a German company specialising in cancer vaccines. Immatics Biotechnologies has an option to further develop and commercialise IMA950 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."

The study is being led nationally by Professor Roy Rampling, from the University of Glasgow, who 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."


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