A team of researchers at Augusta University’s Georgia Cancer Center in the US is set to begin a new clinical trial evaluating a combination of two immunotherapies including PD-1 and poly-IC for the treatment of various solid tumours.
The first phase of the trial intends to look at the safety of the drug combination in 12 patients with solid tumours who have not responded to standard therapy.
The second phase will enrol around 30 patients with nonresponsive, metastatic colon cancer.
Georgia Cancer Center clinical research and trials associate director Dr Sharad Ghamande will be the principal investigator of the first phase of the trial.
The second phase of the trial will be led by MCG and Georgia Cancer Center hematologist/oncologist Dr Asha Nayak-Kapoor.
Biopharmaceutical company Merck will fund the study while Oncovir, which produces poly-IC, will provide the drug for trial.
Georgia Cancer Center Immunology, Inflammation and Tolerance programme co-leader Dr Esteban Celis said: “We have experiments in mice that show that the combined use of PD-1 antibody and poly-IC is synergistic for the recognition of tumours and an antitumor response mediated by T-cells.”
Previous experiments conducted at Celis’ lab have shown how poly-IC, which behaves like the genetic material of viruses to get the attention of the immune system, can improve the effectiveness of therapeutic cancer vaccines.
PD-1 is a molecule naturally expressed by T-cells, a type of white blood cell that can fight infections and cancers and help prevent an overzealous immune response.
Poly-IC is an investigational drug that has been under trials in humans with brain tumours, pancreatic and stomach cancers.