Our clinical trials are making steady progress

Cancer stem cells are like ‘queen bees’ that produce ‘worker bees’ (cancer cells). These stem cells also produce new queen bees that create new ‘hives’ (new tumours in other parts of the body).

Our clinical trial programme is testing the GMRI’s novel treatment approach by targeting cancer stem cells, the proposed origin of cancer. We are currently running two trials, focusing on patients with glioblastoma and patients with advanced malignant melanoma who have failed conventional treatment. The glioblastoma clinical trial is well underway and the early results are promising.

We have shown that cancer stem cells in 14 types of cancer express the renin-angiotensin system (RAS) and the converging pathways. These pathways can be blocked by commonly available, low-cost, off-patent oral medications, including those used for treating high blood pressure, diabetes, and arthritis. These medications have been used for many years, and their safety profile is well understood. They cost about $4,000 per patient per year — substantially less than conventional treatment for glioblastoma, which can be $80,000 to $100,000 per patient. 

With more funding, we can move to the next phase and treat patients earlier

The next phase of our clinical trial for glioblastoma would involve starting the treatment at an earlier stage, which may achieve better outcomes.

We currently have limited funding, so we can’t begin this next phase yet. We also have plans to extend our clinical trial programme to include other types of cancer, but need more funding to make this possible. 

We have a new clinical trial coordinator

Meet Ruth Watson-Black — our new clinical trial coordinator.

Our new Clinical Trial Coordinator, Ruth Watson-Black, has managed medical trials in the United Kingdom and New Zealand, and has experience of project managing clinical trials at a global level.

Ruth is the main point of contact for patients. She coordinates the GMRI’s clinical trials and their daily activities. Her role breaks down into two elements — patient relations and project delivery. In the first part of her role, Ruth organises the logistics of all the patients’ visits and checks that we’re giving patients good care. She also ensures we’re keeping them safe and following the process of collecting data, such as study outcomes and blood pressures.

Ruth has worked in the pharmaceutical industry in the United Kingdom and New Zealand. For almost a decade she specialised in clinical trials, supporting local clinical trial centres and project managing clinical trials in the UK, Europe, North and South America, Asia, and Australasia.

During this time, Ruth was responsible for Phase 1 to Phase 4 projects in a wide range of therapeutic areas, including:

  • breast cancer, gastrointestinal stromal tumours and paediatric oncology
  • attention impairment
  • influenza and hepatitis C
  • cystic fibrosis and haemophilia
  • diabetes
  • multiple sclerosis
  • rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis
  • renal dialysis

Ruth’s other previous role as a childbirth educator has honed her interpersonal skills. She draws on this experience to ensure we give medical information to patients in language they can easily understand.