Scientists working to develop new vaccine for most deadly brain tumour

Scientists have embarked on a new study aimed at developing a vaccine to target the most deadly form of brain tumour.

Dr Stephanie McArdle
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Dr Stephanie McArdle says vaccine-based immunotheraphies also offer an approach for the treatment of cancer
We want to develop a HAGE-based vaccine, which alone, or in conjunction with other treatments, can treat GBM effectively.

Dr Stephanie McArdle, Nottingham Trent University

Scientists have embarked on a new study aimed at developing a vaccine to target the most deadly form of brain tumour.

Researchers at Nottingham Trent University and the University of Portsmouth are working to find a treatment for glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), which kills more people than the other 120 types of brain tumour put together.

Due to the highly aggressive nature of the disease, and the lack of successful curative treatments, there is an urgent need for novel therapeutic approaches such as immunotherapy.

The scientists will focus their attention on developing protective immune responses against tumour molecules such as HAGE and TrP2, which are present in the cancer of GBM patients.

These molecules will be assessed for their ability to generate strong anti-GBM tumour immunity, as well as their ability to reduce and cure established tumours.

The researchers will also determine whether blood from patients contains HAGE and / or TrP2-specific immune cells that are capable of recognising GBM tumours which express these molecules. This will demonstrate the ability of a patient’s immune system to identify – and kill – the cancer cells, providing insight into the effectiveness of the treatment.

If their initial analysis proves successful, then the researchers aim to progress the treatment into clinical trials.

The £95,000 study is being funded by the Headcase Cancer Trust, the only UK charity which dedicates its funding solely to research which aims to find a cure for GBM brain tumours.

GBM is the most common and aggressive form of glioma and carries a very poor prognosis. It is responsible for up to 5,000 deaths in UK each year, and – even with intensive chemotherapy – patients have an average survival time of just 14 months.

Dr Stephanie McArdle, a scientist in the John van Geest Cancer Research Centre at Nottingham Trent University, said: "Vaccines can effectively protect us from diseases such as hepatitis, measles and tetanus, and vaccine-based immunotherapies also offer an approach for the treatment of cancer. They are relatively non-toxic and have the potential to induce immunological memory, which could provide long-term protection against disease recurrence.

"We want to develop a HAGE-based vaccine, which alone, or in conjunction with other treatments, can treat GBM effectively."

Professor Geoff Pilkington, who directs the Brain Tumour Research Centre of Excellence at University of Portsmouth, said: "This funding brings together the existing expertise of Nottingham Trent University in immunological approaches to the treatment of advanced cancers, with the considerable experience of the University of Portsmouth's Brain Tumour Research Centre in the field of GBM research.

"We hope that the united strengths of the two teams will provide a novel approach which may bring renewed hope for those suffering from the most malignant and resistant form of brain tumour, GBM."

Headcase Cancer Trust's founder Colin Speirs lost his wife Becky to GBM in 2010.

He said: "At Headcase we believe that the clear way forward to find a cure for GBM is to use novel approaches, cutting-edge research and a collaborative strategy. The cancer researchers at Nottingham Trent University and the University of Portsmouth, or  'wizards' as we call them, are providing just that.

"We strongly believe that the development of immunotherapies will see a major breakthrough in the treatment of this horrendous disease.

"Personally, also, I'm delighted to be able to put something back into Nottingham Trent University, where Becky and I studied and met."

The vaccine 'delivery system' utilised by the scientists will be Scancell's Immunobody® technology, a version of which has been successfully used to develop SCIB1, an ImmunoBody® vaccine for the treatment of melanoma which has recently shown a highly promising survival trend in a phase one or two clinical trial.

  • Notes for editors

    Press enquiries please contact Dave Rogers, Head of Communications, on telephone +44 (0)115 848 8782, or via email; or Helen Breese, Media Relations Manager, on telephone +44 (0)115 848 8751, or via email.

    Nottingham Trent University's John van Geest Cancer Research Centre is a unique purpose-built scientific facility. Its aim is to save lives and speed recovery by improving the early diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

    The centre focuses on two key approaches to the treatment of patients with cancer:

    • improving the diagnosis and management of breast and prostate cancers
    • developing effective vaccines and immunotherapies that will significantly improve the survival rates and quality of life for cancer sufferers.

    Visit the John van Geest Cancer Research Centre website to find out more about its work, or to make a donation towards its vital scientific research.

    Scancell is developing novel immunotherapies for the treatment of cancer based on its ImmunoBody® and Moditope® technology platforms.

    Scancell's first ImmunoBody®, SCIB1, is being developed for the treatment of melanoma and is being evaluated in a phase one or two clinical trial. Data from the trial demonstrate that SCIB1, when used as monotherapy, has a marked effect on tumour load, produces a melanoma-specific immune response and highly encouraging survival trend without serious side effects. In patients with resected disease there is increasing evidence to suggest that SCIB1 may delay or prevent disease recurrence.

    Scancell's ImmunoBody® vaccines target dendritic cells and stimulate both parts of the cellular immune system: the helper cell system where inflammation is stimulated at the tumour site and the cytotoxic T-lymphocyte or CTL response where immune system cells are primed to recognise and kill specific cells.

    Pre-clinical data on a combination of SCIB1 or SCIB2 and checkpoint inhibition (blockade of the PD-1 or CTLA-4 immune checkpoint pathways) have shown enhanced tumour destruction and significantly longer survival times than when either treatment was used alone.

    Scancell has also identified and patented a series of modified epitopes that stimulate the production of killer CD4+ T cells that destroy tumours without toxicity. The Directors believe that the Moditope® platform could play a major role in the development of safe and effective cancer immunotherapies in the future.

Scientists working to develop new vaccine for most deadly brain tumour

Published on 3 June 2016
  • Category: Press office; Research; School of Science and Technology

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