Upstate News

June 3, 2004
Darryl Geddes 315 464-4828

SUNY Upstate launches clinical trial testing brain cancer drug

SUNY Upstate Medical University is one of 21 sites in the United States to test an experimental brain cancer drug that uses diphtheria toxin to kill cancer cells without harming healthy cells.

The trial will test TransMID, a new type of cancer drug as a treatment for recurrent and/or progressive malignant brain tumors. Approximately 17,000 Americans are diagnosed with malignant brain tumors each year. The highly malignant glioblastoma tumor is the third leading cause of death from cancer in patients 15 to 34.

“This new drug has the potential to provide a major breakthrough in the treatment of this form of brain cancer,” said Gregory Canute, M.D., assistant professor at SUNY Upstate, who is the principal investigator for the study. TransMID is a protein toxin that consists of a normal cell protein called transferrin that attaches to special sites on tumor cells called receptors. The transferrin helps attract iron away from malignant tumors to healthy cells. The other key component in the drug is a modified diphtheria toxin which kills tumors cells.

Subjects enrolled in the study will be randomly assigned to receive either TransMID or the best standard of care. Each TransMID subject will receive two treatments between four and eight weeks apart. The drug is delivered through a catheter implanted in the subject’s tumor. Subjects enrolled in the study who will receive the best standard of care will be treated with one of the chemotherapeutic regimens currently used to treat progressive or recurrent glioblastoma brain tumor in patients who have failed to respond to conventional therapy. Subjects in the study will be followed for one year.

While the drug is experimental (not currently approved by the Food and Drug Administration), some known side effects include, seizures, arm and leg weakness, confusion and brief loss of feeling.

To be eligible for the study, individuals must be at least 18 years old, have a confirmed diagnosis of malignant glioblastoma, have progressive and/or recurrent glioblastoma after undergoing conventional treatment, including any combination of surgery, radiation or chemotherapy. Additional eligibility criteria must also be met.

For additional information on study eligibility, call Lorraine Padden, trial coordinator, at 315-464-5513.

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