UC San Diego among First in Nation to Treat Brain Cancer with Novel Viral Vector
Directly injected viral vector, Toca 511, is designed to spread through brain cancer cells and kill them while leaving healthy cells unharmed
UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center researchers and surgeons are among the first in the nation to treat patients with recurrent brain cancer by directly injecting an investigational viral vector into their tumor. The treatment is being developed by a local San Diego Company, Tocagen Inc.
“This clinical trial targets glioblastoma – one of the deadliest forms of brain tumor,” said principal investigator Santosh Kesari, MD, PhD, director of neuro-oncology in the Moores Cancer Center and in the Department of Neurosciences at the University of California, San Diego. “Clinical trials of investigational therapies such as this may lead to new treatment options for patients battling this deadly disease.”
The current standard of care for a newly diagnosed, high-grade glioma includes surgically removing as much of the tumor as possible, followed by radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Despite these measures, the tumor usually recurs making this trial a high priority.
The trial is investigating the use of Toca 511 (vocimagene amiretrorepvec), for injection in combination with Toca FC (flucytosine), extended-release tablets. Toca 511 is a retroviral replicating vector (RRV) that is designed to deliver a cytosine deaminase (CD) gene selectively to cancer cells. After allowing time for the administered Toca 511 to spread through the cancerous tumor those cancer cells expressing the CD gene can convert flucytosine into the anti-cancer drug 5-fluorouracil (5-FU). In this study, patients receive cycles of oral Toca FC monthly for up to six months.
Top Photo: The Toca 511 virus replicates by budding.
Bottom: The surgical procedure involves directly injecting the viral vector into the brain tumor.