CureSearch for Children’s Cancer, a national non-profit with a mission to end childhood cancer by driving targeted and innovative research in an accelerated time frame, will fund a Phase I clinical trial to bring new therapies to paediatric brain cancer patients, including those with limited or no treatment options.
The trial is led by Dr David Munn and Dr Theodore Johnson of the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University. Dr Munn has a track record of forming collaborative teams that move basic-science discoveries into innovative clinical trials. In 2015, his team developed a novel therapy, the first-in-class IDO-inhibitor drug (indoximod) and advanced this therapy through early-stage clinical trials.
Dr Munn and his team will now examine if the addition of ibrutinib can promote anti-tumour activity in brain cancer patients who are actively progressing, and have already become resistant to chemoimmunotherapy with indoximod alone.
Dr Munn is collaborating with Dr Johnson, a physician-scientist and paediatric oncologist concentrating on developing multi-modal chemoimmunotherapy for children with brain cancer, as part of a collaboration between the Georgia Cancer Center and the Children’s Hospital of Georgia.
“We chose malignant brain tumours because this is an underserved field,” said Dr Munn. “Once these children recur, there is seldom a standard treatment pathway that can offer a cure, so this population of patients is well-positioned to benefit from new modalities of therapy.”
If the current proof-of-concept Phase I trial is successful, then the ibrutinib/indoximod platform would readily transfer to other tumours and chemotherapy. This could have profound impacts on end-stage patients who have previously had little or no treatment options.
The trial is being funded through a CureSearch Catapult Award, which supports Phase I or Phase II clinical trials that advance promising therapies for paediatric cancer. The Catapult Award propels high-potential research out of the lab, into the clinic and, ultimately, to the kids who need it most.
“Our funding strategy is laser-focused on addressing areas of unmet need. Dr Munn’s clinical trial has huge potential to dial back the intensity of standard therapies, giving these kids new options and a better quality of life,” said Holly Zink, CureSearch Director of Research and Programs.
As part of CureSearch’s growing co-funding model, Dr Munn’s Catapult Award is also supported in part by the Rally Foundation for Childhood Cancer Research. Rally raises awareness and funds to find better treatments and cures for childhood cancer.
“Rally is a strong believer in funding early research, and continuing to fund the research as it progresses. We are thrilled to have been supporting groundbreaking research for years,” said Dean Crowe, founder and CEO of the Rally Foundation. “Now, Rally is able to catapult Drs Munn and Johnson’s research in partnership with CureSearch. It is great when foundations collaborate and expedite new treatments to kids fighting the childhood cancer beast.”