News & Blog

Brain Tumor News From the 2015 American Society for Clinical Oncology Meeting

From May 29 – June 2, National Brain Tumor Society Research and Scientific Operations staff attended the 2015 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting, one of the most important cancer research meetings of the year. Each year, we attend ASCO to learn about the latest research on emerging new treatments and get updates on some of the most promising clinical trials taking place in the brain tumor research space.

Earlier, we provided a link to check out a great round-up post from our Associate Director of Scientific Operations, Dr. Jennifer Helfer, on brain tumor news that broke at ASCO. Today we take a bit deeper dive into the top news from the conference, and what its implications are for the brain tumor community. Since last year’s ASCO recap ended up being our sixth most popular read of 2014, we’ll follow the same format:

ReACT Results Excite

Poster session

Some of the CNS poster presentation at ASCO 2015

Dr. David Reardon of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute presented on study called ReACT – a randomized, double-blind Phase II study of a vaccine being developed by Celldex Therapeutics called Rintega (rindopepimut) in patients with EGFRvIII-positive, recurrent glioblastoma (GBM).

Previously, Rintega – which uniquely targets EGFRvIII, a commonly mutated form of a gene called EGFR that is considered to be a key “driver” mutation in GBM – has shown encouraging clinical benefit (effectiveness and safety) in three Phase II studies in newly diagnosed GBM patients expressing the mutation. Information from compassionate use had also suggested that rindopepimut may also provide benefit in relapsed GBM. As Dr. Reardon noted, this has been especially heartening as relapsed GBM patients with the EGFRvIII (about 30% of GBM patients) are notoriously difficult to treat.

The results presented at ASCO 2015 showed that Rintega produced favorable and positive effects, extending overall survival by a median of around two months with a statistically significant survival benefit -over the course of the entire study- in vaccine treated individuals compared to non-vaccine treated patients. The treatment also reduced the need for steroids. The magnitude of this reported benefit was considered comparable to the effects of an immunotherapy called Ipilimumab, which justified its approval for melanoma in 2010. The next step is for Celldex to move forward with a Phase III trial in recurrent GBM or possibly seek an “accelerated approval” from the FDA.

Read the press release from Celldex here.

An update from Celldex’s Phase III ACTIV study with Rintega in newly diagnosed GBM patients is due in the summer of 2015.

Update on Novocure’s Optune (Tumor-Treating Field)


Patient Advocacy training session at ASCO 2015

Much of the buzz coming out of the Society for Neuro-Oncology Annual Meeting last November was surrounding interim results from a study on the device developed by Novocure called Optune (formerly Novo-TTF-100A system). Those results reported that Optune, used in combination with temozolomide (also know as Temodar or TMZ), demonstrated improved survival benefit in newly diagnosed GBM patients, compared to treatment with temozolomide alone. Patients who received both Optune and temozolomide, on average, survived 19.6 months, compared with an average survival of 16.6 months for those who only received temozolomide. Additionally, the trial showed patients using Optune had an increase in “progression free survival” of three months over patients who didn’t receive Optune (7.1 months vs. 4.0 months). Finally, the percentage of patients surviving at least two years was greater in the Optune and temozolomide arm (43%) than in the temozolomide alone arm (29%). No major added toxicities or adverse effects to patients were observed in the Optune/temozolomide arm.

The data from this interim analysis were significant enough for an independent review committee to recommend that Novocure can end their trial early, so the patient in the control arm of the clinical trial could “cross-over” and receive Optune treatment.

At ASCO 2015, Novocure presented the full, final results from this study. The data for the full analysis were reported to be comparable to those for the interim dataset. There was a statistically significant increase in the median for progression-free survival of 2.9 months, as well as for overall survival of 2.8 months in the Optune treated patients compared to the temozolomide-only group. This again translated into 2-year survival rates of 43% vs. 29%, respectively. No significant added toxicity, beyond the effects of standard chemo- and radiotherapy, was seen in the Optune treated patients. Quality of life and cognitive function were comparable across the two groups. Read the full press release here.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is currently reviewing the available data on the use of Optune as a treatment for newly diagnosed GBM patients. (Note: Optune is already approved for recurrent GBM patients).

National Brain Tumor Society encourages GBM patients to talk with  their medical team about Optune, so as to consider all of the potential treatment options available.

Expressions of hopeWe look forward to learning more about the next steps and outcome of the ongoing FDA review of this device and communicating these with the community when available.

Immunotherapy Trial News

Continuing the recent trend, immunotherapy once again was a leading topic of discussions and presentations at ASCO. Below is a round-up of some of the immunotherapy trials that were reported on this year in GBM. Note all of these trials are still very earlier the evaluation process:

News for Other Primary Brain Tumor Types:

While GBM is often a major focus of neuro-oncology research and drug development, because it is the most aggressive and difficult to treat of primary brain tumors in adults (and thus many learnings from GBM could subsequently be applied to other, less aggressive tumor types), there were a number of presentations on trials for other brain tumor types for both adults and pediatric patients:

To access more information and news from ASCO 2015 acess news and abstracts from the CNS track, here

As always, if you got question please feel free to leave them in the comments or email us at!

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