MDNA Trial for Glioblastoma


LOS ANGELES, Calif. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Glioblastoma is the most common and deadliest form of brain cancer. Even after surgery and aggressive chemotherapy, most patients only live 14 months after diagnosis. A clinical trial is delivering a bioengineered fusion protein directly into the tumor.

Rusty Doms’s first scans were good after a cutting-edge procedure for glioblastoma. He hopes to get back on the paddleboard one day.

Doms explained to Ivanhoe, “I’m not on top of the world, but yes, I feel good. And one step in front of the other, and a positive attitude.”

He’s part of a trial at John Wayne Cancer Institute. Doctors use a bioengineered protein that leaves healthy cells alone; it’s called MDNA55.

“It can bind directly to tumor cells and bring in a payload, which is like a Trojan horse that acts directly on tumor cells and causes the tumor cells to undergo programmed cell death,” said Achal Singh Achrol, MD, Chief of Glioma Surgery Program, Director of Neurovascular Surgery, John Wayne Cancer Institute and Pacific Neuroscience Institute at Providence Saint John’s Health Center. (Read Full Interview)

Rusty and five others had the drug delivered directly to their tumors through up to four catheters. At first, guided by MRI’s. It took up to 20 hours.

“Not only are we getting the bulk of the tumor that we see, but the drug is actually fusing to the rest of the brain where we see the single cells that are intertwined, infiltrating into the brain,” explained Santosh Kesari, MD, Chair, Dept. of Translational Neurosciences at John Wayne Cancer Center.

Early results are promising. At one month, Rusty had swelling, but at two, his MRI showed tumor shrinkage.

Doms stated, “If this trial is successful, I will have helped myself, but I will have helped other people, because right now, as best I know, there’s no cure for glioblastoma.”

He knows it’s early, but Rusty is optimistic.

The procedure is minimally invasive, and Rusty was out of the hospital in two days. He says his worst side effects are fatigue and some cognitive delay. This trial is open and running in nine cancer centers in the U.S.

Contributors to this news report include: Wendy Chioji, Field Producer; Rusty Reed, Videographer; Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Gabriella Battistiol, Assistant Producer; Roque Correa, Editor.

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REPORT:          MB #4324

BACKGROUND: There are an estimated 240,000 cases of brain and central nervous system cancers per year, of which glioblastoma is the most common and the most dangerous. Approximately 18,000 patients are diagnosed with GB each year in the U.S. alone, and despite an aggressive treatment approach that includes surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy, 13,000 will die of the disease. Glioblastoma forms from star-shaped cells in the brain called astrocytes. In adults, this cancer usually starts in the cerebrum which is the largest part of the brain.


SYMPTOMS/TREATMENT: The symptoms for glioblastoma are constant headaches, seizures, vomiting, trouble thinking, changes in mood or personality, double or blurred vision, and difficulty speaking. A neurologist diagnoses the disease by giving the patient a complete exam through MRI or CT scan, and other tests depending on the symptom. There is no cure for glioblastoma, but there are treatments that will control and slow down the tumor growth. There are four treatments available for glioblastoma: surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, and electric field therapy; however, many people get more than one type. When a patient receives surgery, the surgeon tries to remove as much of the tumor as possible, but in a high-risk area of the brain, it may not be possible to remove all of it. Then the radiation is used to kill any remaining tumor cells and slow the growth of tumors that can’t be removed by surgery. In electric field therapy, a device called Optune place electrodes directly on the scalp to target cells in the tumor while not hurting healthy cells. Although the FDA approves this treatment, it is only for people who have been newly diagnosed with glioblastoma and individuals who had it come back.

NEW TECHNOLOGY: Researchers are testing a new kind of immunotherapy and a new way to give it to patients with glioblastoma. A clinical trial at the John Wayne Cancer Institute is delivering a bioengineered fusion protein directly in the brain. MDNA 55 is a targeted form of immunotherapy designed to destroy tumor cells and immunosuppressive cells in the tumor microenvironment. It can bind directly to tumor cells and bring in a payload that causes the tumor cells to die. The treatment aims to avoid the dangers associated with traditional chemotherapies and radiation by using a bioengineered protein delivered with a new and precise minimally invasive neurosurgery technique under MRI guidance.

(Sources: Santosh Kesari, MD

TRIAL LOCATIONS INCLUDE: John Wayne Cancer Institute, UCSF, Boca Raton Regional, New York Presbyterian, Duke University, Cleveland Clinic, Ohio State University, University of Texas Southwestern Cancer Research Center, UT San Antonio.


Achal Singh Achrol & Santosh Kesari

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Doctor Q and A

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