Secondary glioblastoma (sGBM) is a rare type of brain cancer with a particularly low five-year survival rate (around 10%). It starts off as low-grade glioma affecting the nerve cells that surround the spine and brain, continuing to spread to other areas. The current form of treatment is chemotherapy using Temozolomide (TMZ), but most patients relapse and their tumors become resistant to treatment.
Researchers from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology have concluded a study showing how a significant number of sGBM patients were developing a new mutation, METex14, which promotes tumor growth. Using a MET kinase inhibitor molecule named PLB-1001, they were able to penetrate the blood-brain barrier and selectively target sGBM tumors and associated mutations.
“This clinical trial and its results are quite significant in furthering the knowledge about sGBM treatment. Precision cancer medicine promises to tailor treatments according to personal cancer mutations, but it is complicated by the dynamic changes during cancer evolution. sGBM tumors are high on the list of toughest tumors to treat”, said Prof. WANG Jiguang, co-author of the study.
Further clinical trials are being conducted at Beijing Tiantan Hospital, including genomic sequencing and PLB-1001 testing. Initial data found the molecule safe and a suitable monotherapy for sGBM.
“Developing computational models on cancer evolution helps to predict cancer cells’ future behavior and prioritize treatment options. In this study, MET is one of the running targets we have identified. By using PLB-1001 as a standalone drug, our collaborators were able to see shrinkage of the tumors over a two-month period in selected patients. More studies need to be done to see if PLB-1001 can be used in conjunction with other drugs to have longer lasting results“.
Scientists are hoping to perfect a combinational chemotherapy cocktail that would improve patient outcome and provide better medical care.