BIRMINGHAM, Ala.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Dr. Gregory Friedman is currently recruiting patients to participate in his innovative phase 1 study that uses a modified virus to attack difficult-to-treat brain tumors. The study is called “Phase I Clinical Trial of HSV G207 Alone or With a Single Radiation Dose in Children with Recurrent Supratentorial Brain Tumors.”
To participate or refer a patient to the study, the only one of its kind in the U.S., contact the study coordinator, Kara Kachurak, at (205) 638-5840, Kara.Kachurak@childrensal.org or Dr. Friedman at (205) 638-9285 or email@example.com.
Friedman’s trial is the culmination of many years of hard work that began when he was a Fellow at Children’s of Alabama. He treats patients at The Alabama Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children’s of Alabama and is an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) and a scientist in the Neuro–Oncology Program at the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Friedman’s research utilizes an “engineered” virus to target chemotherapy and radiation-resistant pediatric brain tumors. Herpes simplex virus has been genetically altered to infect and kill difficult-to-treat brain cancer cells without harming normal cells.
“With viral therapy, we use herpes virus to target and kill cancer cells. The virus also acts as an immunotherapy by stimulating the patient’s own immune system to attack the tumor,” Friedman said. “The virus killing the cells results in an immune response that kills the tumor as well.”
Friedman and his team have found that medulloblastoma and other high-grade pediatric brain tumors are highly sensitive to herpes virus which makes it an ideal cancer killer. The virus has been studied thoroughly and researchers know exactly how it works and which genes are involved.
“The regular virus can damage both normal cells and cancer cells, but by removing specific genes from the virus, it no longer affects normal cells. However, it can replicate and kill chemotherapy and radiation-resistant cancer stem cells,” Friedman said. “I think of these cells like a queen bee in a hive. The queen bee gives rise to worker bees, just like cancer stem cells give rise to other tumor cells. You can take out as many worker bees as you want, but if you don’t take out the queen bee, the hive will regenerate.”
Friedman and co-investigators in the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center - James Markert, M.D., professor and chairman of neurosurgery, and Yancey Gillespie, Ph.D., professor of neurosurgery – also continue to work in the lab to maximize this therapy by exploring how pediatric brain tumor cells may avoid detection by the immune system, so that the ideal immunotherapy can be combined with viral therapy to maximize tumor killing. The goal of this therapy is to improve outcomes and quality of life for children with brain cancer while lessening damaging side effects from current therapies.
To learn more about the ongoing study visit the clinicaltrials.gov page (NCT02457845) at https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02457845.
Children’s of Alabama is the 10th busiest pediatric medical center in the United States. The Alabama Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders (ACCCBD) at Children's of Alabama is the state's only comprehensive center for pediatric cancer and other blood disorders, treating 90 percent of all such patients diagnosed in Alabama. Specialized pediatric services exist for all forms of childhood cancer, leukemia, brain and spinal cord tumors, hemophilia and other bleeding disorders and sickle cell diseases in the state. The center is a partnership between Children’s and the UAB Division of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology. The ACCCBD is home to the only pediatric programs in blood and marrow transplantation, childhood cancer survivorship, developmental cancer therapeutics, pediatric neuro-oncology, pediatric hemophilia and sickle cell disease in the state of Alabama. The cancer program is ranked among the best in the nation by US News & World Report. More information is available at www.childrensal.org, Facebook.com/childrenshospitalofalabama or twitter.com/ChildrensAL.