In 2014, along with our sister organizations, the Band of Parents committed a record-breaking $2.7 million to the Band of Parents neuroblastoma initiatives fund at Memorial Sloan Kettering. This included $2 million for the manufacture and clinical testing of an Hu3F8 bi specific antibody and Phase I Study of Haploidentical Natural Killer Cells plus Humanized 3F8 for High-Risk Neuroblastoma.
Band of Parents has funded other innovative clinical trials: vaccines to strengthen a child’s immune system against neuroblastoma, ways to improve the tumor-killing activity of 3F8, and antibodies that bring liquid radiation directly to tumor cells. In recent years a new antibody, 8H9, has been successful in killing neuroblastoma that has recurred in the central nervous system – a type of relapse that was 100% fatal just less than a decade ago. The 8H9 antibody may have great promise as a systemic treatment, but more research is needed to understand its workings.
The 3F8 antibody has shown amazing success in eradicating high-risk chemo-resistant neuroblastoma infiltrating the bone marrow. Still, about 20% of those diagnosed with this deadly cancer never reach remission, and many of those in remission see their cancer return. Because 3F8 is made from mouse antibodies, many children develop immunity to it, making further 3F8 treatment ineffective. For those who form immunity too soon, the problem is huge—their disease is likely to return or progress. This lead to the development of a “humanized” 3F8 antibody (Hu3F8). Hu3F8 entered the clinic in August 2011 as a phase one clinical trial – fully funded by the Band of Parents. Today, this therapy has become a vital part of saving more precious lives. Hu3F8 is our greatest accomplishment to date; Hu3F8 is now being used to treat children every week at MSKCC.
One of the most successful trials to date for the highest risk children has been a vaccine trial named the Bivalent Vaccine Plus Beta-Glucan for High-Risk Neuroblastoma. The Band of Parents recently funded a trial to provide this vaccine to children in first remission and making this highly effective treatment part of the front line treatment in children who have not relapsed. Our goal is to prevent relapse of high-risk neuroblastoma patients in first remission after completion of standard of care, using the bivalent vaccine plus beta-glucan. This could prove to be a groundbreaking trial with the potential to change the treatment of neuroblastoma. The results have been outstanding for the relapsed children –– and vaccine is now first line therapy for high risk patients.