Clinical Trial Testing Modified Viruses as Brain Cancer Treatment Begins

July 25, 2023 10:58:19

Researchers from Henry Ford Health’s Hermelin Brain Tumor Center have begun working on a brain cancer treatment that would use modified viruses to fight cancer cells. Hermelin Brain Tumor Center scientists are currently in the midst of a phase 1 clinical trial for a cutting-edge brain cancer treatment that uses a virus modified to destroy tumor tissue in conjunction with fractionated stereotactic radiosurgery.

Brain cancers tend to be the most challenging type of cancer to treat. Their proximity to critical brain regions makes them difficult to remove via surgery because it can damage critical nerves, infect the meninges (tissue that covers the brain) or cause bleeding inside the brain. Furthermore, the blood-brain barrier often prevents chemotherapy drugs from reaching brain tumors in large amounts, which reduces the treatment’s effectiveness.

While current brain cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery can be used to manage cancer in the brain to some degree, researchers are always working on more effective types of treatment.

If the Hermelin Brain Tumor Center trial and subsequent trials deliver encouraging results, doctors may soon have a new weapon in their anticancer arsenal. The ongoing clinical trial is testing the effectiveness of this new brain cancer therapy in individuals with recurrent high-grade astrocytomas and glioblastoma.

According to Hermelin Brain Tumor Center codirector Dr. Tobias Walbert, the patients involved in the study are scheduled for repeat surgery. He explained that the novel treatment involves removing most of the brain tumor via surgery before injecting a modified virus into any leftover cancer tissue and the resection cavity. This virus is designed to replicate selectively and destroy tumor tissue once it is introduced into the body.

Walbert states that the research team’s goal is to determine the maximum dose of modified virus that patients can tolerate. Furthermore, he explains that the treatment also involves taking 5-fluorocytosine, and valganciclovir prodrug therapy, oral medications that are made to only become toxic when they are inside cancer cells.

Once inside the tumor cells, these oral medications kick off a process called “suicide-gene therapy” that causes cancer cells to begin self-destructing, killing off brain tumor cells and potentially hindering the growth of more cancer cells in the brain.

Patients will also go through fractionated radiosurgery after surgery where they will receive small doses of targeted radiation over several days of treatment.

Henry Ford Health radiation oncologist and study coinvestigator Dr. Farzan Siddiqui said that this research will improve understanding of the effectiveness of using oncolytic adenoviruses for suicide gene therapy in patients living with high-grade astrocytomas.

Many other teams are also actively studying how to treat brain tumors more effectively. For example, CNS Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: CNSP) is seeking to commercialize new drugs for brain tumors so that patients can have better outcomes sans the harsh side effects normally associated with conventional cancer treatments.

NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to CNS Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: CNSP) are available in the company’s newsroom at

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