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John Theurer Cancer Center Joins Study Exploring Novel Delivery Of Cancer-Selective Gene Therapy To Treat Brain Cancer

3/19/2015 9:46:07 AM

HACKENSACK, N.J., March 18, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Physicians at the John Theurer Cancer Center (JTCC) at Hackensack University Medical Center announced today their involvement in a promising multicenter Phase 1 study assessing the safety and tolerability of Toca 511 in patients with glioblastoma, the most common and lethal form of brain cancer. Toca 511 is a retroviral replicating vector that has been engineered to deliver a therapeutic gene selectively to brain tumor cells while sparing healthy brain tissue.

In this study, sponsored by Tocagen Inc., Toca 511 is injected directly into the brain tumor through a stereotactic biopsy needle. Once injected, Toca 511 infects tumor cells, sparing healthy functioning brain cells. During the following weeks, patients are then given cycles of an oral medication, 5-flucytosine (5-FC), an antifungal drug that readily enters the brain. The infected tumor cells now carry genetic instructions for an enzyme that converts 5-FC into 5-fluorouracil (5-FU), a highly-potent chemotherapy that destroys cancer cells, which may lead to activation of the immune system against the tumor.

"Over the past 40 years, we have seen new developments for glioblastoma, but none that have successfully improved the long-term outlook for our patients. One of the main challenges to finding a breakthrough is the difficulty of delivering chemotherapy across the blood-brain barrier," said Samuel A. Goldlust, M.D., medical director, Brain and Spine Institute at JTCC. "The infective power of viruses has evolved over millions of years. By using that power to infect and destroy brain cancer, we hope to make a significant impact upon survival."

JTCC is one of only 10 institutions across the country involved in this study, and the only site in the northeast. "The clinical trial allows us to offer patients a less invasive procedure compared to traditional surgery, and most patients are able to return home the next day," said George J. Kaptain, M.D., surgical director, Brain and Spine Institute at JTCC.

Currently ongoing, the study will enroll up to 50 patients with glioblastoma and other aggressive high-grade gliomas (Grade 3 or 4) who have already undergone surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy.  Among the estimated 13,000 new cases of high-grade glioma each year in the United States, glioblastoma is the most common and aggressive, with only five percent of patients surviving to five years after diagnosis.

About John Theurer Cancer Center at Hackensack University Medical Center
The John Theurer Cancer Center is among the nation's top 50 U.S. News & World Report Best Hospitals for Cancer and the highest ranked in New Jersey. As New Jersey's largest and most comprehensive cancer center, JTCC is dedicated to the care, of patients with all types of cancer, from diagnosis to survivorship.  Each year, more people in the New Jersey/New York metropolitan area turn to the John Theurer Cancer Center for cancer care than to any other facility in New Jersey. Each of the 14 specialized divisions feature a team of medical, research, nursing and support staff with specialized expertise that translates into the most advanced, focused and compassionate care possible.  

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About Hackensack University Medical Center
HackensackUMC, a nonprofit teaching and research hospital located in Bergen County, NJ, is the largest provider of inpatient and outpatient services in the state. Founded in 1888 as the county's first hospital, it is the flagship hospital of Hackensack University Health Network, one of the largest health networks in the state comprised of 11,300 employees, 3,100 credentialed medical staff members and 1,697 hospital and nursing home beds.  HackensackUMC was listed as the number one hospital in New Jersey in the U.S. News & World Report's Best Hospital rankings for 2014-15. It is one of the top 30 hospitals in the nation by receiving 11 national specialty rankings, including a national ranking for the Joseph M. Sanzari Children's Hospital in Neurology and Neurosurgery in the 2014-15 Best Children's Hospitals. The children's hospital is housed with the Donna A. Sanzari Women's Hospital in the Sarkis and Siran Gabrellian Women's and Children's Pavilion, which was designed with The Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center, and was included on the Green Guide's list of Top 10 Green Hospitals in the U.S. HackensackUMC is one of Healthgrades America's 50 Best Hospitals for nine years in a row, and received the Healthgrades Distinguished Hospital Award for Clinical Excellence 13 years in a row. The medical center has also been named a Leapfrog Top Hospital, and received 23 Gold Seals of Approval by the Joint Commission more than any other hospital in the country. It was the first hospital in New Jersey and second in the nation to become a Magnet® recognized hospital for nursing excellence; receiving its fifth consecutive designation in 2014. HackensackUMC is the Hometown Hospital of the New York Giants and the New York Red Bulls and was Official Medical Services Provider to The Barclays PGA Golf Tournament and the NY/NJ Super Bowl XLV111 Host Committee. It remains committed to its community through fundraising and community events.

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SOURCE Hackensack University Medical Center

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