Glioblastoma is the most common form of brain cancer in adults. While chemotherapy and radiation therapy temporarily halt glioblastoma growth, tumors eventually resume aggressive growth and recur to near uniform fatality. New data from a Phase II, multi-center study led by Clark C. Chen, MD, PhD, Lyle French Chair in Neurosurgery and head of the University of Minnesota Medical School’s Department of Neurosurgery, suggest that an innovative viral immunotherapy is defying this grim survival expectation, offering hope to patients with recurrent glioblastoma.

The trial, termed CAPTIVE/KEYNOTE-192, involves the injection of an adenovirus, designed to selectively kill glioblastoma cells in two ways. First, the virus directly and selectively infects glioblastoma cells to cause tumor kill. Second, the virus activates the patient’s immune response to harness its natural power to recognize and eliminate glioblastoma cells. These two mechanisms work synergistically. Patients in this trial additionally receive immunotherapy (KEYTRUDA®) that further augments these synergistic anti-tumor effects.

The interim results of this clinical study, which involved 15 institutions–including the U of M Medical School–were presented at the 2019 Annual Meeting for the Society of Neuro-Oncology. Historically, the survival of patients suffering from recurrent glioblastoma ranged from four to nine months. In the CAPTIVE/KEYNOTE-192 study, approximately 40% of the treated patients are surviving beyond 12 months.

The effectiveness of many cancer therapies requires reduction in the number of cancer cells by surgical excision. The CAPTIVE/KEYNOTE-192 study, on the other hand, enrolled only patients suffering from glioblastomas that cannot be safely resected.

“These tumors tend to be the most aggressive of glioblastoma, which is already one of the deadliest of cancer known to man. It is extraordinarily satisfying to see these aggressive tumors melt away in many of the patients enrolled in the study,” said Dr. Chen, who is also a member of the Masonic Cancer Center. “University of Minnesota Medical School is a leading site in this study and remains the only center in the state of Minnesota offering this innovative therapy through clinical trial participation. Given the promising results, I look forward to a phase III randomized study that will ultimately demonstrate the efficacy of this therapy.”

The study was sponsored by DNATrix. Dr. Chen is a participating investigator in the CAPTIVE/KEYNOTE-192 study.