Dr. William Curry's 2018 Update for the Marcus Foundation

2018 Update for the Marcus Foundation

From Dr. William Curry

We are excited about progress that is being made in understanding and manipulating the immune system’s response to brain tumors. Amazing and successful results using immunotherapy are being reported in patients with advanced cancer; however, these therapies have not yet translated into significantly better outcomes for patients with brain tumors.

We are of the firm belief that success in treating brain tumors with immunotherapy is within reach; however, it will require more detailed understanding of how the immune system responds to brain tumors in their natural state, as well specifically targeted immune interventions – using combinations of immunotherapies, either simultaneously or in sequence.

Over the past year, support from the Marcus Foundation has allowed us to continue studying combination immunotherapies in brain tumor models in mice. We recently published a study (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29016879) showing that combining a personalized and subcutaneously delivered brain-tumor vaccine with simultaneous delivery of therapeutic antibodies first activates immune cells again the tumor and then further stimulates these cells and makes the brain tumor environment more fertile for immune-based killing. The two arms of therapy work via different mechanisms, have only modest impact as single therapies, and clearly synergize when given together. We have built upon these studies by adding a third arm, intended to specifically stimulate proliferation of a particular type of activated immune cell. Early results show dramatic impacts on the survival of these tumor-bearing mice – curing essentially all of them.

This type of work serves as the foundation upon which clinical trials can be built, and seed funding from the Marcus Foundation and groups like it is essential to moving the needle against brain cancer.