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Recruitment record set in UCLH brain cancer trial

A UCLH-led trial for patients with brain cancer has recruited more UK participants than ever before for a study of its kind.

119 patients were recruited in just over two years to the BRC-supported IPI-GLIO trial, the UK’s first large scale, charitably funded, immunotherapy trial for NHS patients recently diagnosed with glioblastoma brain cancer. This represents the largest ever number of UK patients in a brain cancer clinical trial.

The trial is funded by the National Brain Appeal, which is dedicated to raising funds for the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, part of UCLH.

Following standard treatment for glioblastoma of surgery (where appropriate), radiotherapy and chemotherapy, patients recruited to the trial were given ipilimumab, a drug that has seen significant improvements in survival rates for people with melanoma skin cancer. The drug blocks a key regulator in the immune system, making the immune system more active.

Lead investigator Dr Paul Mulholland, consultant medical oncologist at UCLH, designed the phase II clinical trial. It is sponsored and managed by the University of Oxford. The pharmaceutical company Bristol Myers Squibb also contributed to part funding the study and provide the drug ipilimumab.

Study participants will be followed up over the next 18 months and the findings will be presented to the American Society of Clinical Oncology in May 2023.

Glioblastoma is a very aggressive brain tumour with around 2,200 cases diagnosed each year in England (and around 3,200 across the UK). The average survival time is around 15 months, with fewer than 10 per cent of patients alive five years after diagnosis following standard treatment.

Dr Mulholland said: “It cannot be underestimated how significant The National Brain Appeal’s decision to fundraise for this trial has been. I am so grateful to everyone who has donated and those continuing to fundraise.”

Looking beyond this trial, Dr Mulholland continued: “Now that we have recruited the 119 patients to the IPI-GLIO trial we have planned a programme of trials so this work can continue. We have established a Glioblastoma Research Group and laboratory at UCL Cancer Institute. We are bringing together the newest drugs from the pharmaceutical industry together with the latest developments in scientific research to try to find a cure for this devastating disease.”

Funds raised by the charity have enabled the trial to take place in seven centres around the UK, in Cambridge, Edinburgh, London (UCLH and Guy’s Hospital), Manchester, Middlesex and Oxford.