NUS Medicine team aims to start clinical trial of targeted therapy for deadly brain cancer in 2025

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Jul 08, 2024, 05:00 AM


Jul 08, 2024, 05:00 AM

SINGAPORE – In the future, patients who suffer a relapse of the deadliest form of brain cancer may get a second shot at life with the help of a novel gene therapy developed by researchers from the National University of Singapore’s Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine (NUS Medicine).

The scientists behind the stem cell-based gene therapy are aiming to start a clinical trial for glioblastoma patients at the National University Hospital (NUH) by late 2025.

Glioblastoma is an incurable and aggressive brain tumour. Once diagnosed, it typically leaves patients with about two years to live.

This targeted therapy – designed to kill aggressive tumours and activate anti-cancer immunity – builds on a similar drug that the NUS Medicine scientists first used to treat dogs and cats with terminal cancers.

A vial of the treatment comprises human stem cells carrying cancer-killing genes that naturally gravitate towards tumours.

The team from NUS Medicine’s biochemistry department includes Associate Professor Too Heng-Phon, adjunct senior research fellow Sarah Ho and post-doctoral fellow Woo Jun Yung.

Prof Too’s team initially worked on the therapy to combat aggressive human tumours until a vet who heard about it contacted them in 2018.

The first version of the treatment was used on 65 dogs and cats between 2018 and 2022.

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