Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Pain Research, Pediatrics / 16.09.2015

Prof. Dr. Holger Lode Clinical Immunology, Pediatrics University of Greifswald, Interview with: Prof. Dr. Holger Lode Clinical Immunology, Pediatrics University of Greifswald, Greifswald Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Response: Neuroblastoma is a cancer in childhood with one of the highest death rates.  Standard treatment is already very intensive. It includes chemotherapy, surgery, radiation, high dose chemotherapy followed by autologous stem cell transplantation. However, the progress made in improving survival rates is still poor. The use of an immune-modulatory treatment with a neuroblastoma specific monoclonal antibody ch14.18 (100 mg/m2 /cycle) in combination with cytokines and 13cis retinoic acid (13 cis RA) has shown benefit for patients with this disease [1].  This antibody targets ganglioside GD2 abundantly expressed on neuroblastoma with limited to no expression on healthy tissue. Low expression of GD2 on pain fibers is associated with an on-target side effect of the treatment, which is the induction of neuropathic pain. Approval of ch14.18 (dinutuximab) for the treatment of children with neuroblastoma has been provided by FDA. In Europe, ch14.18 was not available for a long time. There were several reasons why the antibody in the US could not be given to children in Europe. Therefore a new development of this side of the Atlantic was initiated following the remanufacturing of the antibody in CHO cells [2] (dinutuximab beta) and was made available within clinical trials of the SIOPEN group. The SIOPEN group is a network of leading European pediatric oncology centers to improve outcome for children with neuroblastoma (, similar to the COG (children`s oncology group in the USA; Following the recloning procedure, ch14.18/CHO was first evaluated for safety in a Phase I study [3], which confirmed the tolerability and showed activity at a dosing regimen of 20 mg/m2 given by 8 hour infusions on 5 consecutive days. Dinutuximab beta is further developed by Apeiron Biologics. The current way to apply 100 mg /m2 / cycle is by 4 short term infusions of 25 mg/m2/day each over 8 hrs on 4 consecutive days. The entire treatment consists of 5 cycles. The drawback is that STI is associated with a high amount of intravenous morphine required to make this treatment tolerable for patients. Also the rate of inflammatory side effects observed is substantial. Clinical observation indicates that if patients treated by STI suffer from pain despite analgesic treatments, a decrease in speed of antibody infusion improves this on target toxicity. Therefore, we hypothesized that significant prolongation of the time of antibody infusion will improve tolerability of that treatment, but at the same time maintains clinical activity and efficacy in high risk neuroblastoma patients. (more…)
AACR, Author Interviews, Biomarkers / 27.04.2015 Interview with: Joanna Kitlinska, PhD Assistant Professor Georgetown University Medical Center Department of Biochemistry and Molecular & Cellular Biology Washington, DC 20057 MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Kitlinska: Neuroblastoma is a pediatric malignancy with extremely heterogeneous phenotypes, ranging from spontaneously regressing to aggressive, untreatable tumors. Consequently, treatment strategies vary significantly between patients, depending on the initial risk assessment. Given the severe late effects of anti-cancer treatment administered to infants and children, proper disease stratification is of utmost importance for neuroblastoma patients. Due to their neuronal origin, neuroblastomas secrete neuropeptide Y (NPY), a small protein normally released from mature nerves. This, in turn, may result in elevated NPY levels in blood of neuroblastoma patients. We have found that serum NPY is particularly high in patients with aggressive, metastatic disease. Consequently, patients with elevated NPY levels have significantly worse survival. This finding is in agreement with our previous data indicating crucial role for NPY in stimulation of neuroblastoma tumor growth. (more…)