City of Hope in Duarte, California, has announced a $3.7 million grant from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine for a phase 1 clinical trial in which glioblastoma patients will have their stem cells genetically engineered so that they can better tolerate the side effects of chemotherapy and receive higher doses of therapy.
Surgery, followed by radiation and temozolomide chemotherapy, is the current treatment regimen for patients with glioblastoma and is associated with toxic side effects. The grant from CIRM will enable City of Hope researchers to prepare for and obtain approval from the Food and Drug Administration for the clinical trial, which will include the extraction and genetic modification of blood stem cells from trial participants with the goal of better protecting them from chemotherapy's effects.
The trial is expected to start in 2019 at City of Hope and three other cancer centers: the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, the Mayo Clinic Hospital in Phoenix, and the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center in Cleveland.
"By genetically altering blood stem cells, we can protect them from the side effects of the chemotherapy given to glioblastoma patients, which will allow them to receive more treatments. We expect that this will lead to greater tumor-killing potential," said John Zaia, the Aaron D. Miller and Edith Miller Chair in Gene Therapy and director of City of Hope's Center for Gene Therapy. "With fewer side effects, we are hopeful that this strategy will produce a better quality of life and improved overall survival for glioblastoma patients, who are currently faced with few treatment options."