Clinical trialing of a drug which promises to deliver new hope for people with the most common and lethal form of brain cancer – glioblastoma – has begun at the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute (ONJCRI).

KB004 (Ifabotuzumab), a drug developed by leading Australian doctors and scientists, represents an exciting new approach in the treatment of brain cancers by targeting a protein on the cancer cells called EphA3.

The drug has already been shown to be safe and have potential benefits in the treatment of leukaemia. This new trial represents a major step towards tackling brain cancer, which has a stagnant and unacceptably low survival rate and takes the lives of over 1200 Australians every year.

The study will take place at Austin Health (Olivia Newton-John Cancer Centre) and Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital. This clinical trial was made possible by a grant of $500,000 from Cure Brain Cancer Foundation, and was awarded following a competitive process. The drug is provided by Humanigen, a U.S. biotech company based in the San Francisco area.

‘This study gives hope to patients with glioblastoma, which is the most common form of adult brain cancer and one with a terrible prognosis,’ said A/Prof Hui Gan, who will lead the trial at ONJCRI.

‘This is the first EphA3-targeting drug for glioblastoma, and represents an exciting new approach to the treatment of brain tumour patients. It also shows the power of what can be achieved by close collaboration between doctors, scientists, pharmaceutical companies and philanthropy.’

KB004 (Ifabotuzumab) was created as the result of a collaboration between Prof Andrew Scott (ONJCRI), Professor Andrew Boyd, (QIMR Berghofer) the late Professor Martin Lackmann (Monash University), and subsequently with US company Humanigen.

‘Collaboration is key to meeting the challenge of brain cancer. This cancer kills more children in Australia than any other disease and more people under 40 than any other cancer,’ Associate Professor Gan said. ‘It is our mission to help people live better with cancer and defeat it, and we are optimistic that KB004 can help us achieve that.’

‘The need for more effective treatments for glioblastoma is starkly apparent’, Michelle Stewart, CEO Cure Brain Cancer Foundation said. ‘This trial is an important step towards finding effective treatment for people living with brain cancer. Cure Brain Cancer Foundation is proud to support this innovative Australian research.’