Mays Cancer Center conducts groundbreaking glioblastoma research

Dr. Brenner stands in front of a window talking to a patient.
Andrew Brenner, MD, PhD, professor of medicine and a medical oncologist specializing in both breast cancer and malignancies of the brain and spinal cord, and co-leader of the Experimental and Developmental Therapeutics Program, Mays Cancer Center

Mays Cancer Center at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio recently conducted a clinical trial combining two drugs in patients with recurrent, high-grade glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). The Mays Cancer Center, one of four National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Centers in Texas, is the only cancer center in America to conduct this trial.

Andrew Brenner, MD, PhD, professor of medicine at the health science center and a medical oncologist specializing in both breast cancer and malignancies of the brain and spinal cord, initiated the clinical trial.

“Glioblastoma is the most common and, unfortunately, the most aggressive primary brain tumor,” Brenner said. “The average survival for a newly diagnosed GBM is 20 months, and that’s only a four-month improvement in survival from 2005 when we began following surgery with chemotherapy and radiation.”

Glioblastoma has claimed the lives of many well-known figures. U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy died of GBM in 2009. Beau Biden, son of U.S. President Joe Biden, succumbed to the disease in 2015.And U.S. Senator John McCain lost his battle with GBM in 2018.

“That is the landscape in which we work,” said William Kelly, MD, assistant professor of medicine at the health science center and a neuro-oncologist at Mays Cancer Center. “GBM comes back after treatment in almost all patients, and, when it does, survival is extremely poor. There is a desperate need for more therapies to treat these patients.”

For the study, the Mays Cancer Center enrolled and treated 25 patients with GBM. Treatment consisted of a standard-of-care chemotherapy called bevacizumab (brand name Avastin) combined with a small-molecule fatty acid synthase inhibitor called TVB-2640 (Denifanstat), since glioblastoma tumors rely on their ability to make fatty acids for growth.

Side effects such as rashes, dry eye and fatigue were mild, and researchers noted an improvement in sixmonth, progression-free survival.

No current therapy improves survival in recurrent GBM. The overall survival of participants in the Mays Cancer Center study was not statistically significant compared to historical controls — patients with highgrade GBMs who weren’t in the study and were treated with bevacizumab only. However, the fact that the drug combination was able to stop cancer progression for six months in a greater number of patients with highgrade GBM was noteworthy, according to Kelly.

Dr. William Kelly's headshot
William J. Kelly, MD, assistant professor of medicine and a
neuro-oncologist at Mays Cancer Center.

“This gives us hope, although we are always simultaneously realistic about the disappointing history of treating these diseases,” Kelly said.

Results of the study were published in Clinical Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

“The fact that the drug combination of bevacizumab (brand name Avastin) combined with a smallmolecule fatty acid synthase inhibitor called TVB-2640 (Denifanstat) was able to arrest cancer progression for six months in a greater number of patients with highgrade GBM was noteworthy.”

– William J. Kelly, MD, assistant professor of medicine and a neuro-oncologist at Mays Cancer Center

 


Share this post!

Sorry, there are no other posts in the 2023 issue of Mays Cancer Center Annual Report

Categories for this article :

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>