BREAKING: First-in-Humans Neuroblastoma Trial Opens at American Family Children's Hospital, UW Carbone Cancer Center
Madison, Wisconsin – A first-in-humans clinical trial for children with relapsed or refractory neuroblastoma has opened at the American Family Children's Hospital and University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center.
Neuroblastoma is one of the most common solid tumors in children and patients who are classified as "high-risk" (about 40 percent) have less than a 50 percent survival rate.
Dr. Ken DeSantes, Crawford Professor of pediatric hematology/oncology, is leading the study that combines natural killer (NK) cells from a half-matched donor, typically a parent, with an antibody to better target neuroblastoma.
The body sometimes adapts to NK cells, making the cells less effective. NK cells are not as efficient at recognizing cancer as some other cells are, but their ability to recognize and destroy tumors can be greatly enhanced by the addition of a tumor-specific antibody.
"We collect white blood cells from a parent," said DeSantes. "The cells are sent to the Waisman Center Biomanufacturing facility where they are expanded and activated in a manner that favors the growth of NK cells."
"The NK cells are divided into four portions; one is infused into the patient immediately while three of them are frozen for future treatment cycles," said DeSantes.
In this Phase I study, clinical trial participants are treated with four cycles of immunotherapy given 4-6 weeks apart. One of the things that makes this trial unique is that the antibody is attached to another molecule, known as IL-2, which is a potent stimulator of NK cells. The antibody - IL-2 conjugate - is administered to participants every day for 7 days after the NK cell infusions. The tumor cells get coated with the antibody which directs the immune system to attack, forcing the NK cells to the tumor.
Before this process begins, the participants undergo chemotherapy before each of the 4 rounds to prevent rejection of the donor NK cells and give them enough time to attack the cancer.
For more about the clinical trial, go to clinicaltrials.gov (NCT03209869).
The trial is supported by Solving Kids' Cancer and its partners Wade's Army and the Catherine Elizabeth Blair Memorial Foundation. The Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer (MAAC) fund is also providing support for the clinical trial.
Date Published: 07/03/2018