Oncolytic virus shows promise in GBM and diagnosing tumours without traditional biopsies

4 min read


Novel gene therapy shows preliminary efficacy for glioblastoma.  A novel oncolytic virus gene therapy extended survival among a small cohort of patients with glioblastoma, according to study results published in Nature. CAN-3110 (Candel Therapeutics) also appeared safe, findings from the first-in-human clinical trial showed. 

Glioblastoma can escape patients’ own immune cells that actively fight against tumours. In this study, researchers engineered a tumour selective biologic agent — based on the cold sore virus, herpes simplex virus type 1 — to inject into the glioblastoma of patients with the goal to see if they could make the disease less able to escape patients’ immune cells. 


Sonobiopsy provides a non-invasive route to brain tumour diagnosis. Diagnosing a brain tumour usually entails neuroimaging with CT and MRI, followed by surgical resection or tissue biopsy. A non-invasive and inexpensive alternative is blood-based liquid biopsy, which analyses circulating biomarkers in the blood to obtain molecular and genetic information about the tumour and guide treatment decisions. Unfortunately, brain tumour-derived biomarkers are detected only in scarce amounts, as the blood–brain barrier (BBB) prevents the transfer of such biomarkers into the peripheral circulation. 

To address this problem, researchers used focused ultrasound (FUS) and microbubbles to temporarily disrupt the BBB and release large amounts of biomarkers into the bloodstream for analysis. In a first-in-human prospective trial, published in npj Precision Oncology, they found that FUS-induced release of biomarkers into the bloodstream – a method they call sonobiopsy – is feasible and safe for use. 

Our Centre of Excellence at Imperial College London has been involved in a clinical trial validating the use of a blood test for glioma brain tumours. Read more here. 

mRNA delivered by extracellular vesicles induces immunotherapy response in glioblastoma. The recent success of mRNA therapeutics against pathogenic infections (COVID vaccine) has increased interest in their use for other human diseases including cancer. However, the precise delivery of the genetic cargo to cells and tissues of interest remains challenging.  This study, published in Nature Communications, introduces a way to get extracellular vesicles to seek out commonly overexpressed proteins on the surface of glioblastoma tumours and then introduce the desired mRNA to the tumour cells. In this study, the mRNA (which encodes interferon-gamma) made the tumour more detectable to the immune system and more responsive to immunotherapies.  In the preclinical models, a significant increase in survival time and initial antitumour activity was observed within 7 days of injection. 


Initial Treatment of IDH-Wildtype Glioblastoma in Adults Older Than 70 Years. The authors provide a detailed review of the latest treatment viewpoints for IDH-wildtype glioblastoma, including the current situation of immunotherapy. The treatment ideas and methods reviewed here would be of help to physicians when they encounter patients with this kind of IDH-wildtype glioblastoma in clinical practice. Published in Cureus, part of Springer Nature Group. 


We are excited to announce the theme of the CRUK Children’s Brain Tumour Centre of Excellence International Summer School 2024: Envisaging the future of children’s brain tumour research in the digital age.  

The Summer School will be held at Trinity Hall, Cambridge from 17th – 19th July 2024, and include topics such as; AI and Machine learning in drug discovery, ‘omics and novel target approaches. Register your interest here 

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