Clinical stage oncology company Prescient Therapeutics (ASX: PTX) has appointed brain cancer specialist Professor Donald O’Rourke to its scientific advisory board.
Professor O’Rourke has considerable expertise in glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) – the most aggressive form of brain cancer – and has a keen interest in the cell and molecular biology of the EGF (epidermal growth factor) family receptor tyrosine kinases, which is a major target in the treatment of GBM.
His knowledge and expertise will be utilised in the development of Prescient’s OmniCAR GBM program as an alternative therapy for cancer patients.
Professor O’Rourke currently works at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine within the department of neurosurgery, and is a director of the university’s GBM Translational Center of Excellence within the Abramson Cancer Centre.
He holds the prestigious John Templeton Jr MD endowed chair in neurosurgery and has extensively studied therapies for the treatment of GBM throughout his career.
He also serves as director of the university’s human brain tumor tissue bank, which he established in 2001.
He recently led a first-in-human clinical trial using CAR-T cells for the treatment of recurrent GBM and has also been involved in a clinical trial for newly-diagnosed patients utilising a combination of CAR-T cells and PD-1 inhibition.
Prescient managing director Steven Yatomi-Clarke said Professor O’Rourke would play a key role on the scientific advisory board.
“His insights and expertise in CAR-T treatments for GBM are unsurpassed, and will help guide the OmniCAR GBM program through the challenges that other approaches have encountered,” he said.
Professor O’Rourke will join CAR-T expert Professor Phil Darcy and experienced hematologist and researcher Professor H Miles Prince on the board.
GBM is an aggressive form of brain cancer which belongs to a group of tumours called astrocytomas (star-shaped cells that nourish and support the brain’s nerve cells).
It often grows in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain and reproduces rapidly, making it difficult to treat.
Research shows approximately 25% of patients survive more than 12 months, and only 5% of patients survive more than five years.
CAR-T therapy is a new form of immunotherapy which uses specially-altered T-cells to directly and precisely target cancer cells.
It is believed to hold promise for treating GBM.
Prescient is developing OmniCAR programs for next-generation CAR-T therapies in the treatment of acute myeloid leukemia; Her2+ solid tumours in breast, ovarian and gastric cancers; and GBM.