Mustang CAR-T brain tumor trial gets funds to expand

City of Hope has landed a grant to expand a phase 1 trial of Mustang Bio’s CAR-T in patients with brain tumors. The $12.8 million grant equips the team to expand arms that are assessing different routes of administration of the IL13Rα2‐specific autologous CAR-T cells.

The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) is putting up the money. Buoyed by the fresh funding, City of Hope’s Behnam Badie, M.D. and Christine Brown, Ph.D. will expand two arms of the trial that are delivering MB-101 into the cerebrospinal fluid and tumor sites of patients with malignant glioma.

City of Hope added the fourth arm to the trial late last year to assess the effect of delivering MB-101 to both the tumor site and cerebrospinal fluid. The other three arms are assessing delivering the CAR-T cells to either the tumor, the cerebrospinal fluid or a cavity left by the removal of the cancer, also known respectively as intratumoral, intraventricular and intracavitary administration.

The trial has chalked up some early successes, including a complete response in a glioblastoma patient. That patient had three of his five progressing intracranial tumors resected, after which he received weekly intracavity infusions of CAR-T cells. The treatment failed to stop new lesions from appearing, though, prompting the team to switch to intraventricular infusions. By the time of the fifth intraventricular infusion, all tumors had decreased by at least 77%.

While the patient's disease recurred after the 16th cycle of treatment, the apparent efficacy of the intraventricular route prompted the team to step up its interest in the approach. The addition of the fourth, intratumoral-intraventricular arm and landing of the grant grew out of this experience.

“This grant will enable the expansion of the phase 1 trial to continue to explore the most effective delivery methods of MB-101,” Mustang CEO Manuel Litchman, M.D., said in a statement.