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Brain cancer survival hopes lifted in Chimeric Therapeutics trials

Chimeric Therapeutics’ latest cell therapy trials are growing hope for brain cancer patients. Credit: File

There is new survival hope for people diagnosed with brain cancer after a positive response from patients engaged in a Chimeric Therapeutics trial designed to monitor the efficacy of its promising cell therapy for glioblastoma.

The cancer fighter says more than half of its participating patients extended median survival expectations up to 10 months, with two patients demonstrating survival beyond 14 months.

Glioblastoma multiform (GBM) is a highly-aggressive and deadly cancer that often starts in the brain or spinal cord. It is fast-growing and has a poor survival rate – only about 40 per cent of patients remain alive in the first year after their diagnosis and just 17 per cent the following year.

Chimeric is trialling a potential immunotherapy treatment it calls “CHM 1101”, which it describes as the “first-in-class” chlorotoxin (CLTX) chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapy. The treatment employs CLTX, an amino acid peptide originally derived from the venom of the deathstalker scorpion, to target tumours.

The phase-1A trial is being conducted at City of Hope Cancer Centre – one of the biggest cancer research treatments organisations in the United States.

The company says patients treated in the trial were heavily pretreated, on average receiving the CLTX CAR T as a fourth-line therapy. Historical trials in GBM have generally been limited to patients treated in second-line therapy.

Encouragingly, patients treated across all four dose levels of the trial achieved a 55 per cent disease control rate, exceeding expectations and historical disease control rates of between 20 per cent to 37 per cent for second-line patients. One patient exceeded 18 months survival, with three remaining alive and in follow-up treatment.

Survival expectations for patients after first-line therapy currently sit at a worryingly-low seven months.

According to Chimeric, the interim results suggest that CLTX CAR T was generally well tolerated with no dose limiting toxicities, no Cytokine Release Syndrome and no Tumor Lysis Syndrome – potential unpleasant side effects of immunotherapy treatment.

Chimeric Therapeutics chief executive officer and managing director Jennifer Chow said: “The CLTX CAR T dose escalation preliminary data are truly encouraging and have exceeded our expectations, particularly given that the patients enrolled were heavily pretreated and very late state.”

The company’s chief medical officer Dr Jason Little added that the treatment’s safety profile and potential survival benefit demonstrated in “difficult-to-treat” patients inspired a sharper want to advance the clinical development of CLTX CAR T therapy.

Chimeric is wasting no time on its mission to bring hope to brain cancer sufferers, advancing the development for phase-1B of the trial to be conducted at a Texas-based medical centre. The phase-1B trial for CHM 1101 is designed in two parts to determine a recommended dose and administration schedule.

The first part of the trial will enrol between three and six patients at the highest dose tested in the ongoing clinical trial at City of Hope Cancer Centre. Based on the safety and efficacy demonstrated in the interim results of the phase-1A trial, Chimeric is looking to advance the second part of the trial with an expansion cohort of between 12 and 26 patients.

Upon successful completion of the dose expansion cohort, the company intends to design and launch a registration trial, in alignment with global regulatory feedback.

While investors responded in kind to the hopeful news, catapulting Chimeric’s share price up nearly 68 per cent on last week’s close as it skipped up to 4.7 cents, it is clearly cancer sufferers and families affected by the aggressive disease who stand to reap the greatest rewards from the company’s innovative cell therapy.

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