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Clinical trial of Durvalumab in GBM

Cure Brain Cancer is helping to fund this clinical trial, which will see Australian researchers joining forces with global counterparts to evaluate the effectiveness of an immunotherapy called durvalumab (MEDI4736) in patients with GBM. 

 

What is Durvalumab?

Durvalumab is an investigational human monoclonal antibody directed against the programmed cell death ligand 1 (PD-L1) protein. Signals from PD-L1 help tumours avoid detection by the immune system. Durvalumab blocks these signals, countering the tumour’s immune-evading tactics. The antibody belongs to an emerging class of immunotherapies commonly referred to as checkpoint inhibitors, because they remove checks the body places on immune activation. 

The problem

About 1,600 people are diagnosed and about 1,200 people die of brain cancer in Australia each year. GBM is a severe form of the disease that uses stealth signals to cloak the cancer tumour from the body’s natural immune system and it is resistant to current therapies, leaving patients with few treatment options. 

Approach and partners

This study is an international collaboration between Cancer Research Institute in New York, Ludwig Cancer Research and MedImmune, supported by Cure Brain Cancer Foundation. The trial is managed by Ludwig Cancer Research and conducted in both the USA and Australia. The Australian research team is based at the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute in Melbourne.

The first trial is a non-randomised, Phase 2 study to test the safety and efficacy of Durvalumab, which could help to block the tumour’s immune-evading tactics. It has been developed by MedImmune, the global biologics research and development arm of AstraZeneca.

 “We believe that brain cancer research must be borderless and by collaborating with our renowned international partners, Cure Brain Cancer is ensuring Australian patients have access to a novel therapy through this study. At this stage, the study involves a small number of patients who can’t be guaranteed positive results. However, if successful, trials like this could give brain cancer patients new treatment options worldwide in the future.”

- Michelle Stewart, Head of Research Strategy, Cure Brain Cancer  

Impact

“Currently GBM patients have an average life expectancy of just 15 months and we hope that adding a promising immunotherapy to the treatment regimen could have significant benefits in turning this around.”

- Hui Gan, lead investigator in Australia, Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute  

Durvalumab has shown promising results in clinical research in other indications. If successful, this research could pave the way for brain cancer patients to have less invasive treatments and potentially improve the management of patients diagnosed with GBM.