An immunotherapy successfully and safely treated five different types of aggressive pediatric brain tumors in mice, according to a new study from researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine.
The antibody, called Hu5F9-G4, works against a cellular “don’t eat me” signal called CD47. The anti-CD47 antibody causes immune cells to surround and destroy tumors while keeping healthy brain cells intact.
Currently there are ongoing Phase 1 trials using anti-CD47 antibodies to treat advanced adult non-central nervous system solid cancers, but this is the first time they’ve been tested against pediatric brain tumors.
Human cancer cells were grown in a dish and implanted in mice to develop into five types of childhood brain tumors: Group 3 medulloblastoma, atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumor, primitive neuroectodermal tumor, pediatric glioblastoma and diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma.
“For many of these tumors, there’s just no treatment,” Samuel Cheshier, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of neurosurgery said in a prepared statement. “Diagnosis is synonymous with a death sentence.”
While radiation and chemotherapy offer options as existing therapies, they can be extremely toxic to a developing brain and result in severe physical and cognitive disabilities.
In the preclinical test, the team was able to demonstrate that the anti-CD47 antibodies narrowly target the cancer without damaging healthy brain cells.
“The most exciting aspect of our findings is that no matter what kind of brain tumor we tested it against, this treatment worked really well in the animal models,” Cheshier said. “There was no toxicity to normal human cells, but very, very active tumor-killing in vivo.”