Developing a survivin vaccine for glioblastoma

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Published: 3 Jun 2018
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Dr Michael Ciesielski - Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, Buffalo, USA

Dr Ciesielski speaks with ecancer at the 2018 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting in Chicago about SurVaxM, an investigational vaccine against glioblastoma.

He outlines results from 63 patients treated with standard therapy — surgery followed by chemoradiation and then adjuvant chemotherapy, then the vaccine, in which 91% of patients receiving SurVaxM were still living 12 months after initiating treatment, compared to 61% in a historical analysis of patients treated with standard therapy alone.

Dr Ciesielski also highlights that 96% achieved six-month progression-free survival, compared to 54% among the historical comparison group, and looks forward to further trial expansion.

ecancer's filming has been kindly supported by Amgen through the ECMS Foundation. ecancer is editorially independent and there is no influence over content.

At Roswell Park we’ve developed a vaccine against glioblastoma and this is what we are calling SurVaxM. It’s a cancer immunotherapeutic targeted towards the inhibitor of apoptosis protein survivin which is expressed in glioblastoma cells.

When it comes to the activity, what kind of preclinical evidence did you see that led you to think that this would have human benefit?

We were doing a lot of laboratory studies, in vitro tests with cell lines and looking towards what would generate the strongest cytotoxic T-cell response and possibly antibody response against the tumour. This particular peptide immunogen led us down that path.

And coming forwards to humans, what are the kinds of prospects that we’re looking at? How is it being received and tolerated?

Right now we’re already at a phase II clinical trial. We’ve treated 63 newly diagnosed glioblastoma patients and we’re presenting our interim data here at ASCO. We have observed that the patients on trial have an overall survival of twelve months at a rate of 91% which is approximately 30% greater than what’s seen under standard of care.

And when it comes to the toleration of that, are there any adverse effects associated with the vaccine?

The greatest thing about the vaccine is that it’s very simple to administer, it’s a subcutaneous injection delivered much like the flu shot. Patients come in, get their vaccination and they go home. Quality of life is tremendously improved over many cancer therapies.

And how were the patients selected for the phase II trials?

We’re looking towards any patient that their tumour expresses survivin, so these are patients that have had surgery resection of their primary tumour, have had radiation and then they’re screened to see if the tumours express survivin. The good thing here is that 95% of glioblastomas do express survivin so they are eligible for the trial and quickly can go on trial.

And going beyond these interim results, what does the timeline look like for further expansion?

Right now we’re looking to expand studies to other indications. We’re looking at multiple myeloma for one as well as a couple of other cancers, possibly AML or neuroendocrine cancers. But mostly we’re driving forward to a phase II randomised study in newly diagnosed glioblastoma with an eye towards achieving an accelerated approval through the FDA.