Wistar-developed antibody shows promise against brain tumors in Drexel trial

December 16, 2002

PHILADELPHIA - A new treatment procedure for high-grade cancers of the brain, one of the most aggressive and deadliest forms of cancer, has shown promise in extending the survival time of patients participating in a clinical trial conducted under the supervision of Luther W. Brady, M.D., the Hylda Cohn/American Cancer Society Professor of Clinical Oncology at Drexel University College of Medicine. The trial was performed in collaboration with The Wistar Institute in Philadelphia.

The findings, published in the December issue of the American Journal of Clinical Oncology, are the results of the first 10 years of an ongoing study begun in 1987. The study follows 180 patients who, following surgery and radiation therapy for their brain tumors, received injections of MAb425, a radioiodinated monoclonal antibody developed at The Wistar Institute. All of the patients were followed for five years or longer.

"These results clearly indicate a dramatic step forward in the treatment of brain tumors," says Brady.

Typically, patients with lower-grade gliomas, or brain tumors, die within 18 to 24 months, according to Brady. Patients with glioblastomas, a more aggressive form of tumor, usually die within 12 to 18 months. Of the 180 patients receiving the MAb425 injections, three patients with high-grade tumors were alive after five years and longer. Of the patients with the less aggressive tumor, eight were alive after five years and longer, and 50 percent of those patients were alive after 56 months.

"It's gratifying to see an antibody discovered in a Wistar laboratory showing such promise in the clinic against difficult-to-treat brain tumors," says Russel E. Kaufman, M.D., director and CEO of The Wistar Institute. "The process of translating basic discoveries into new therapies is often a lengthy and challenging one, but the reward can be profound - the ability to offer longer, healthier lives to patients."

The scientists who developed the MAb425 antibody while at The Wistar Institute in the 1970s are Meenhard Herlyn, D.V.M., and Ulrich Rodeck, M.D. Currently, Herlyn is a professor at Wistar, while Rodeck is now at Thomas Jefferson University.
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Drexel University College of Medicine, formerly MCP Hahnemann University, is the largest private medical school in the nation and one of the largest centers for spinal cord research in the Mid-Atlantic region. Drexel's College of Medicine has participated in pioneering clinical trial involving the worlds first implantable artificial heart, developed an ob-gyn center overseen by internationally prominent specialists in maternal-fetal medicine, and created one of the largest centers for malaria study in the nation. It was the first medical school to train women to be physicians.

The Wistar Institute is an independent nonprofit biomedical research institution dedicated to discovering the causes and cures for major diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disorders, and infectious diseases. Founded in 1892 as the first institution of its kind in the nation, The Wistar Institute today is a National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center - one of only eight focused on basic research. Discoveries at Wistar have led to the development of vaccines for such diseases as rabies and rubella, the identification of genes associated with breast, lung, and prostate cancer, and the development of monoclonal antibodies and other significant research technologies and tools.

News releases from The Wistar Institute are available to reporters by direct e-mail or fax upon request. They are also posted electronically to Wistar's home page (http://www.wistar.upenn.edu), and to EurekAlert! (http://www.eurekalert.org), an Internet resource sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

The Wistar Institute

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