The CEO Diaries series includes the latest discoveries in global brain cancer research; updates on the revolutionary GBM AGILE clinical trial, led by the Global Coalition for Adaptive Research; explanations of recent breakthroughs; and insights into what’s next for brain cancer. You will meet those with a passion to spread awareness of brain cancer and make a real impact for those diagnosed. Follow Lance as he works to build a collaborative front to work together to bring the best research and better treatment outcomes to Australia.
This blog centres on an interesting discussion I had with Professor Web Cavenee, Director, Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, San Diego, Distinguished Professor at the University of California, San Diego, Board member, Global Coalition for Adaptive Research, in addition to being the Chair of the Foundation’s Scientific Advisory Committee. I met up with Prof Cavenee at the Ludwig Institute to talk about the GBM AGILE trial, where he sees this trial heading, how the Foundation has progressed in the past year, and what it means for the future of the disease.
Lance: What’s coming up in brain cancer research that we can get excited about?
Prof Cavenee: So much is happening across the world. We have this revolutionary trial; GBM AGILE that is changing the way trials and therapies are being delivered to patients. In the United States, GBM AGILE has really taken off in the last year or two. It has had a fantastic buy-in both from doctors and patients. It is remarkable that today we have this trial where multiple drugs can be tested on patients, without having to redo or restart a trial if we are unsuccessful with a particular drug. We couldn’t imagine this 10 years ago. We really want to get as many people as we can on this trial and reduce the number of people in the standard of care. For too long now we have struggled with drugs to circumvent the blood-brain barrier, we can now hopefully look at drugs that will help us cross that barrier and treat the brain tumour. It is indeed very exciting!
Lance: Why is the GBM AGILE trial so important? Why is Australia as a global site so important and how many sites are there worldwide?
Prof Cavenee: GBM AGILE is a truly global trial. The trial is currently open at over 40 sites in the United States, Canada, and Europe, with additional sites opening in Europe, China, and Australia in 2022. Once open in Australia, patients suffering from glioblastoma will have access to trial drugs, that were previously not available to them. A global trial like GBM AGILE increases the opportunity for patients to participate in a clinical trial.
Most significantly it lowers the cost for drug companies. In the past, drug companies were not particularly interested in GBM as a disease because of the few numbers of patients as well as drugs not responding as well to the condition. Now with the efficiencies of GBM AGILE, we are hopeful that more companies will pursue developing treatments for patients with GBM.
Lance: What is the future of the GBM AGILE trial in Australia? How do you think we are progressing? What do you think of CBCF’s role in getting GBM AGILE to Australia?
Prof Cavenee: In the many years that I have known the Foundation, it has completely evolved in the last year. The programs are all in synergy, from the Early Career Fellowship grants to the Clinical Accelerator to now GBM AGILE. The Foundation is supporting some remarkable programs. It is covering the entire pipeline that makes up the researchers or academics with the ideas in the lab, to biotech companies with risky drug trials, to innovative clinical trials for drug development.
It is exciting because Australia has a very receptive patient community and great neuro-oncologists who are waiting to have this trial started.
Cure Brain Cancer Foundation has solely funded the GBM AGILE trial in Australia. Learn more about the trial here.
By Lance Kawaguchi
Watch this space to follow Lance’s travel in the United States as he meets prominent brain cancer researchers, academics, organisations, and seeks out new collaborations to benefit the brain cancer community and drive awareness for the cause.
We are incredibly grateful to CT Partners, Bay Travel, and Alan and Jackie Wolf for generously sponsoring the costs of this trip to enable us to foster these meaningful and necessary collaborations.