According to an article from Drugs.com, MediciNova Inc. has announced the first enrollment in its phase 1/2 clinical trial of MN-166, an experimental drug that hopes to target recurrent glioblastoma in patients.
Glioblastoma is a an aggressive form of cancer affecting the brain and spine. It may develop at any age, though it appears more frequently in older adults.
It begins in the brain’s glial cells, the supportive “glue” that holds the organ’s nerve cells together. This gives them a particularly unpleasant ability to form deep inside the brain, often intermixing with healthy brain tissue.
It’s one of the most common forms of malignant brain tumor, and also one of the most aggressive. Due to their structure and associated malignancy, glioblastomas can be very difficult to treat and nigh impossible to cure. Long term solutions are generally limited to slowing the tumor’s growth through the conventional means of radiation and chemotherapy, and ensuring that the patient is physically comfortable.
Glioblastomas affect about 2 to 3 out of 100,000 adults every year. Circumstances vary, but most glioblastomas are fatal within 15 months of diagnosis.
MediciNova’s Experimental Glioblastoma Treatment
MediciNova’s proposed treatment is based on a combination of two drugs, MN-166 (the experimental drug) and temozolomide (a typical chemotherapy drug).
The decision to go ahead with a full clinical trial was based on promising pre-clinical studies of mice that suggested an impressive boost in life expectancy when temozolomide was administered along with MN-166 versus alone.
The phase 1 trial is all about fine-tuning. This is where scientists will slowly administer increasingly high doses of MN-166 along with temozolomide to determine what levels of the drug are safe for human consumption. This is also how the dosage is established for the phase 2 trial.
The phase 2 trial is about proving, empirically, that the combination treatment is effective at, er, treating, glioblastomas. This will be determined by regularly administering the cocktail and observing the growth (or ideally lack thereof) of patients’ tumors for a period of up to 6 months. The response rates and overall survival outlook will also be monitored.
It’s Early, But it’s a Step
Most drugs never make it out of phase 2 trials. When reading a drug announcement from a manufacturer, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement they come wrapped in. Grand aspirations in headlines usually end in quiet failures in the lab.
However, the growing body of research surrounding one of the most aggressive forms of cancers encourages observers to continue to build upon it. It may be years before MN-166 leaves the lab, even as a loser. But as any good scientist knows, failures pave the road to success – and you only need one success.
Glioblastomas are some of the most fast-growing and lethal forms of cancer. Do you find it encouraging that pharmaceutical companies are dedicated to formulating more effective treatments, or discouraging that these treatments seem so far away? Share your side with Patient Worthy!