MRI of gliobastoma. (Source: Wikimedia/Christaras A)Tocagen Inc. announced that updated interim clinical data from two ongoing investigational studies of Toca 511 in combination with Toca FC in 68 patients with recurrent high grade glioma were presented at the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) Annual Meeting in San Francisco. High grade gliomas include glioblastoma (GBM), the most common and aggressive form of primary brain cancer. 
In patients treated to date, Toca 511 & Toca FC was shown to be safe and well tolerated with minimal treatment-related toxicity. In both studies, landmark six and twelve month survival rates were higher than historical published data and the effect was consistent in both studies. In addition, during one of the presentations, a clinical case was described that supported the proposed dual mechanism of action involving direct cancer cell killing followed by immune activation selectively against residual tumor. The data were presented in sequential talks by Manish Aghi, associate professor of neurological surgery at the University of California, San Francisco, and Michael Vogelbaum, associate director of the brain tumor and neuro-oncology center at the Cleveland Clinic, both of whom are principal investigators of the Toca 511 & Toca FC studies. 
"We are encouraged by the safety and tolerability profile from these trials and the preliminary survival data to date appear to surpass historical benchmarks," said Vogelbaum. "There is an urgent need for effective treatment options for patients with recurrent glioblastoma so we look forward to completing the ongoing studies and helping advance this promising therapy into a randomized controlled trial." 
Added Harry Gruber, CEO of Tocagen, "We are excited to advance our investigational treatment into the next stage of clinical development and are grateful for the strong support we have received from the brain cancer community." 
Toca 511 & Toca FC is an investigational gene therapy that is designed to selectively infect and kill cancer cells via a proposed dual mechanism of action: first, the Toca 511 virus selectively infects and mediates direct cancer cell killing via local production of 5-FU, a potent anticancer agent, and second, the immune system becomes activated selectively against the tumor resulting in long-term, systemic anticancer activity. More information about the trials can be found at using the identifiers NCT01470794 and NCT01156584. If interested in participating in a Tocagen trial, an inquiry can be submitted here. 
Date: April 10, 2014
Source: Tocagen