Learn more about the findings and importance of a study led by a research and clinical team from the Mass General Cancer Center who is developing new cell therapy for patients with recurrent glioblastoma, a deadly form of brain cancer.

What is Glioblastoma?

Glioblastoma, the most common brain tumor, is a fast-growing cancer in the brain that is universally fatal despite currently available treatments. Symptoms include persistent headaches, blurred vision, vomiting or loss of appetite, changes and mood and personality, seizures and speech difficulty, among others.

It can be diagnosed and monitored through various brain imaging techniques, including computed tomography (CAT scans) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

What is Recurrent Glioblastoma?

Recurrent glioblastoma refers to glioblastoma that returns after initial treatment, which typically includes surgical removal of the tumor and chemotherapy treatment.

INCIPIENT trial infographic

What Makes Glioblastoma Difficult to Treat?

In addition to its location in the brain, glioblastoma is a heterogenous tumor, meaning that not all of the tumor cells are alike and do not respond uniformly to any one treatment strategy.

What Are CAR T Cells?

CAR (chimeric antigen receptor) T cell therapy is a type of immunotherapy in which a patient's own immune cells are harvested, re-engineered and then put back into the body to recognize and kill cancer cells. It involves altering the genes inside T cells (a type of white blood cell that fights infection) to help them identify and attack cancer cells.

They have been incredibly successful in treating some forms of blood-based cancers, such as leukemia, but researchers are still working to translate that success into solid tumors such as glioblastomas.

What are CAR-TEAM cells?

CAR-TEAM (T Cell Engaging Antibody Molecule) cells were developed by researchers to address the challenge of heterogeneity in solid tumor cancers.

Typically, CAR T cells are designed to target a single spot on the tumors. CAR-TEAM cells have a dual targeting mechanism that enables them to attack the cancer cells at two different targets.

In this trial, the first target was a common cancer mutation known as EGRFvlll.

The second target is wild type EGFR, a protein that is not detected in normal brain tissue but is expressed in more than 80 percent of cases of glioblastoma.

What did the Trial Show?

The researchers enrolled three patients with recurrent glioblastoma in this first-in-human study.

Treatment of the CAR-TEAM cells were administered directly to the brain via a surgically implanted catheter.

All three patients showed remarkable initial responses to the treatment, with dramatic but transient reductions in tumor size in MRI scans taken shortly after.

What’s Next?

Encouraged by this promising first step and the initial reductions in tumor size, the team is now working on new strategies to increase the longevity of the treatment, either by giving patients additional doses of the CAR TEAM cells over time and/or by combining it with other forms of chemotherapy.

If you are interested in learning more about the INCIPIENT clinical trial, please call 617-724-6226 or email carteamingbm@mgb.org. A member of our clinical team will contact you within 48 business hours.

Video: New CAR-T Therapy Shows Promise for Glioblastoma