Carbohydrate, vaccine combination could push melanoma immunotherapy forward

Advanced metastatic melanoma is tough to treat, with few options available, and the 5-year survival rate is only around 10%. Galectin Therapeutics has started treating patients with advanced disease in a Phase I/II trial to see if combining its galectin inhibitor GM-CT-01 with a peptide-based cancer vaccine developed at the Ludwig institute improves the outcome of patients with this form of cancer. The trial is under way in Belgium and Luxembourg.

Galectin proteins are involved in a lot of different processes in the cell, including the immune response. GM-CT-01 is a carbohydrate that binds galectins, and therefore modulates the immune response. In the trial, the patients will get a shot of the peptide vaccine every three weeks, and GM-CT-01 into the vein every three days. Patients with metastatic melanoma on the skin will also get a dose of GM-CT-01 directly into the site of the metastasis.  

"The initiation of this trial is an important step in evaluating a potential new treatment modality for patients with advanced metastatic melanoma, who experience limited success with currently available therapies," said Professor Jean-François Baurain of the Cliniques Universitaires Saint-Luc, one of the sites for the study.

The company expects to see results from the trial by mid 2013. If this is successful, then a similar approach could work in other tumor types.

- read the press release