170330 ONJCRI 0097
 Dec 13, 2017

Clinical Trial of Anti-EphA3 Antibody Enrolls First Brain Cancer Patient

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.

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 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 Associate Professor Hui Gan, who will lead the trial at ONJ Cancer Research Institute. 

‘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 Professor Andrew Scott (Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute), 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.' 

Key facts:

• The clinical trial begins this month at the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute, Austin Health. The Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital will also be conducting the trial, which utilises world-class expertise in nuclear imaging at both sites.
• The new drug, KB004 (Ifabotuzumab), is an antibody which targets a protein called EphA3 on the surface of cancer cells and surrounding blood vessels. Its advantage is that it does not target normal healthy brain tissue or blood vessels.

• KBOO4 was developed in Australia by Australian scientists, and is further evidence of the groundbreaking work undertaken in this country to target cancers.

• The trial will confirm the safety of KB004 and determine the best dose to effectively penetrate brain tumours.

• The clinical trial team of Associate Professor Hui Gan and Professor Andrew Scott from Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute, together with Professor Andrew Boyd and Associate Professor Bryan Day from the QIMR Berghofer will utilise patient data and tissues acquired through the trial to continue the development of EphA3-targeting drugs. 

• A total of 12 patients will participate in the trial. In order to be eligible for the trial, patients must have recurrent glioblastoma (GBM), and have had only one type of chemotherapy for their disease recurrence.

 For further details or to arrange interviews:  Ms Kim Tsai; Chief Operating Officer, Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute; 
M: +61 0411 742 221  |  E: kim.tsai@onjcri.org.au