SAN DIEGO, Feb. 3, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Tocagen Inc.  today announced the publication of data showing the company's investigational treatment for high grade glioma eradicates brain tumors and provides a dramatic survival benefit in mouse models of glioblastoma. Almost all mice receiving the top dose of Toca 511 followed by 5-FC were still alive at 180 days, which was the termination date for the experiment, whereas all control mice died by day 43. The article  was published today in the February issue of the Neuro-Oncology journal.
"After administration of Toca 511, the efficiency and specificity of viral spread through the tumor in an immune-competent animal model was impressive," said John Coffin, Ph.D., American Cancer Society Professor at the Sackler School of Biomedical Sciences at Tufts University and Special Advisor to the Director, HIV Drug Resistance Program, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute. "As a career retrovirologist and advisor to the scientists at Tocagen, I am pleased to see the progress they have achieved with their retroviral replicating vector technology, and I look forward to seeing how this approach translates in humans with advanced cancer."
The results published in Neuro-Oncology showed that Toca 511 delivers a pro-drug activating gene to tumor cells where it converts the pro-drug 5-FC (flucytosine) into the anti-cancer drug 5-fluorouracil. Treatment with the high doses of Toca 511 resulted in elimination of tumors in most animals after dosing with 5-FC. The combination treatment of Toca 511 and 5-FC was well tolerated and did not cause toxicity over the course of the six month treatment protocol.
"Because of the invasive nature of glioblastoma, cancer cells are typically left behind after surgery, even with a 'complete' resection, making tumor re-growth