Gliomas are the most common type of brain tumours and they develop from cells that support the nerve cells of the brain and spinal cord. High grade gliomas refer to the fastest growing types of malignant (cancerous) gliomas that can spread into the healthy tissue. High-grade gliomas are more common in men than women, and the occurrence increases with age. Symptoms may be general or specific to the area of brain where the tumour is located. General symptoms include headache, anorexia, nausea, vomiting, seizures, drowsiness, personality changes, while more specific symptoms may include difficulties with hearing, speech, sight, movement and mood. After initial treatment, the majority of high grade gliomas will recur with worsening symptoms and quality of life.
Toca 511 administered by injection, and Toca FC administered orally, are under development for the treatment of high grade gliomas that recur after initial treatment with surgery and/or other chemotherapy. Toca 511 is a type of virus that infects the cancer cells allowing Toca FC, a type of chemotherapy, to specifically target and kill the cancer cells. The selective destruction of the cancer cells further increases the body’s natural immunity which may prevent the cancer from recurring. Ongoing studies have shown that both Toca 511 and Toca FC can be well tolerated and could be added to established cancer treatments.
Nivolumab is a drug that works by improving the activity of T-cells (a type of white blood cells) and thereby increasing the ability of the immune system to kill cancer cells. Ipilimumab is another drug that works in a different way to also increase the activity of T-cells. Both drugs are given by injection into the veins. It is thought these drugs when used together may be more effective than each drug on its own. If licenced, nivolumab in combination with ipilimumab will offer additional treatment option to prolong the lives of people with head and neck cancers.