The Food and Drug Administration ( FDA ) has approved the California Stem Cell’s application to begin a phase III clinical trial exploring the potential of a cancer stem cell-based platform therapy to treat advanced metastatic melanoma. The protocol has received Special Protocol Assessment ( SPA ), indicating that FDA is in agreement that the design, clinical endpoints, and planned clinical analyses of the phase III trial address regulatory objectives sufficient for market approval.
The therapy has also been granted fast track status by FDA, a designation given to therapies which show promise in treating life-threatening medical conditions, which accelerates the approval of investigational new drugs undergoing clinical trials.
The study, to be led by Robert Dillman, at the Hoag Family Cancer Institute of Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian, calls for enrolling 250 patients with recurrent stage III or stage IV metastatic melanoma in a multi-centered, randomized, double-blind study that compares overall survival of patients who receive California Stem Cell’s patient-specific cancer immunotherapy, known as DC-TC, against patients receiving a control treatment.
DC-TC therapy begins with cancer stem cells that have been isolated from a patient’s resected tumor sample, enriched and inactivated. This newly created cancer stem cell line is then combined with dendritic cells, or antigen-presenting immune cells, that are derived from the same patient’s blood. The product is then introduced back into the patient via a series of subcutaneous injections.
In the planned phase III trial, patients will receive weekly DC-TC injections for three consecutive weeks, and then once monthly for five months.
In two earlier phase II clinical studies, the combined median 5-year survival in patients with metastatic melanoma was observed to be a remarkable 51%, double that of any current treatments.
The DC-TC treatment is based on findings in recent years that the rapid proliferation and subsequent spreading of cancer throughout a patient’s body may be fueled by a small number of cancer stem cells. Through proprietary processes developed at California Stem Cell ( CSC ), researchers have refined their ability to isolate and expand these cancer stem cells to clinically useful numbers, combine them with autologous dendritic cells, and reintroduce them into the patient with the intention of training and bolstering the patient’s immune system to target the cells that have ability to form new tumors.
Metastatic melanoma is usually lethal within 1-2 years, with only 10% of patients surviving five years. In 2012, there were approximately 20,000 new cases of metastatic melanoma diagnosed in the U.S., and about 10,000 deaths. ( Xagena )
Source: California Stem Cell, 2013