Gregory Friedman, MD – Acceleration Initiative – Pediatric High-Grade Gliomas

Home » Research » Pre-Clinical Projects » Gregory Friedman, MD – Acceleration Initiative – Pediatric High-Grade Gliomas


MD Anderson Cancer Center

in collaboration with Avidea Technologies, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women’s and Boston Children’s Hospital, University of Cambridge, Northwestern University, Lurie Children’s Hospital and Treovir, LLC

CureSearch Acceleration Initiative Award: 2022-2025 

Focus: Pediatric High-Grade Glioma

Project title: Overcoming the Adverse Microenvironment of Pediatric High-Grade Gliomas

Outcomes for pediatric high-grade gliomas (pHGGs) range from less than 25% to essentially 0%, in the case of diffuse midline gliomas (DMGs), and these dismal survival rates have not improved in 30 years. Safe, effective immunotherapies for pediatric high-grade glioma (pHGG) including diffuse midline glioma (DMG) have eluded investigators and represent a significant unmet need. 

Gregory Friedman, MD, is a CureSearch Acceleration Initiative Award recipient conducting research at the MD Anderson Cancer Center. He and his colleagues are currently conducting a phase I clinical trial in pediatric high-grade glioma and have demonstrated that their oncolytic virus, G207, is safe with very promising efficacy. An oncolytic virus is a virus that is specifically able to enter and destroy cancer cells. Based on the results of the phase I trial, G207 was awarded FDA Fast Track Designation, and Dr. Friedman is developing a multi-institutional Phase 2 trial. While he continues to advance G207 clinically, Dr. Friedman’s goal is to maximize G207’s therapeutic benefit for future clinical trials. In this project, Dr. Friedman will be assessing a combination immunotherapy that he and his colleagues hypothesize will result in a stronger and sustained response to G207 resulting in lasting anti-tumor response. Dr. Freidman will assess combination of G207 with a highly innovative vaccine platform developed by his public-private collaborating partner, Avidea Technologies. In initial proof-of-principle preclinical mouse studies, vaccination prior to G207 treatment significantly enhanced efficacy compared to either therapy alone. The goal of this AI award will be to develop a protocol and obtain regulatory approvals for a Phase 1 clinical trial of the Avidea vaccine (SNAPvax) and G207. 

Thank you, Rally Foundation for Childhood Cancer Research and LifeArc for supporting this innovative project.

Research Update December 2023:

The team has identified additional antigens to target and is developing those vaccines. Working with their industry partner Vaccitech, Dr. Friedman has developed a flowchart for advancing to a clinical trial, and they are beginning to formulate a clinical protocol.  

Research Update April 2024: 

The goal of Dr. Friedman’s project is to develop a treatment for brain tumors that helps a child’s own immune system directly attack tumor cells while avoiding damage to normal cells in the body to improve outcomes. To achieve this goal, Dr. Friedman and his team are combining a cold-sore virus that has been modified to target and kill brain tumor cells, while not injuring normal brain cells, with a unique tumor vaccine designed to increase the immune attack on the tumor and increase tumor cell killing by the virus.  

Support from CureSearch has enabled Dr. Friedman to assemble a “dream team” of researchers to develop this combination immunotherapy. Thus far, they  have determined the ideal brain tumor proteins to target with the vaccine, and are developing a tumor model to specifically test those vaccines. Additionally, they have found that the combination therapy of the cold-sore virus with the novel tumor vaccine is more effective than either therapy alone and that the timing of the therapies is very important. They have shown that delivering the vaccine prior to the virus is more effective than giving the virus before the vaccine because it excites the immune system to attack the tumor instead of removing the virus, which allows the virus to kill more tumor cells. Dr. Friedman is continuing to study how this combination therapy works together and developing methods to test how well the therapy is working. Additionally, he is working with an industry partner to develop a clinical trial to test the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine alone and in combination with the virus in children with brain tumors who are in desperate need of new and improved therapies.  

"Outcomes for children with high-grade gliomas including diffuse midline gliomas are unacceptably poor, and our standard therapies are minimally effective and toxic. We are thrilled to partner with CureSearch to help achieve our overall goal of developing safe and effective immunotherapies for pediatric high-grade gliomas. We have had early success using cold-sore virus G207 that kills tumor cells directly and stimulates the child’s immune system to attack the tumor.

This critical grant support from CureSearch enables us to assemble a “dream team” of researchers from academia including UAB and Children’s of Alabama, Dana-Farber, Cambridge, and Mount Sinai as well as industry partners Treovir (G207) and Vaccitech to develop a combination immunotherapy that can produce long-term responses with the virus and Vaccitech’s highly innovative SNAPvax tumor vaccine technology.

We plan to quickly translate the combination therapy to pediatric clinical trials with the goal of improving outcomes and lessening side effects for these children in desperate need of improved, targeted therapies."

- Dr. Gregory Friedman

Pin It on Pinterest

Scroll to Top