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A Pilot Surgical Trial To Evaluate Early Immunologic Pharmacodynamic Parameters For The PD-1 Checkpoint Inhibitor, Pembrolizumab (MK-3475), In Patients With Surgically Accessible Recurrent/Progressive Glioblastoma

Study Purpose

This research study is studying an immunotherapy as a possible treatment for Glioblastoma.

Recruitment Criteria

Accepts Healthy Volunteers

Healthy volunteers are participants who do not have a disease or condition, or related conditions or symptoms

Study Type

An interventional clinical study is where participants are assigned to receive one or more interventions (or no intervention) so that researchers can evaluate the effects of the interventions on biomedical or health-related outcomes.

An observational clinical study is where participants identified as belonging to study groups are assessed for biomedical or health outcomes.

Searching Both is inclusive of interventional and observational studies.

Eligible Ages 18 Years and Over
Gender All
More Inclusion & Exclusion Criteria

Inclusion Criteria:

  • - Have histologically confirmed World Health Organization Grade IV malignant glioma (glioblastoma or gliosarcoma).
Participants will be eligible if the original histology was low-grade glioma and a subsequent histological diagnosis of glioblastoma or variants is made.
  • - Be willing and able to provide written informed consent/assent for the trial.
  • - Be 18 years of age on day of signing informed consent.
  • - Have a Karnofsky performance status (KPS) ≥ 70 (Appendix A).
  • - Previous first line therapy with at least radiotherapy.
  • - Be at first or second relapse.
Note: Relapse is defined as progression following initial therapy (i.e., radiation ± chemotherapy). For participants who had prior therapy for a low-grade glioma, the surgical diagnosis of a high-grade glioma will be considered the first relapse.
  • - Participants must have shown unequivocal evidence for tumor progression by MRI or CT scan.
  • - Demonstrate adequate organ function as defined in Table 1, all screening labs should be performed within 14 days of registration.
Table 1 Adequate Organ Function Laboratory Values.
  • - System Laboratory Value.
  • - Hematological.
  • - Absolute neutrophil count (ANC) ≥1,500 /mcL.
  • - Platelets ≥100,000 / mcL.
  • - Hemoglobin ≥9 g/dL or ≥5.6 mmol/L without transfusion or EPO dependency (within 7 days of assessment) - Renal.
  • - Serum creatinine OR Measured or calculated creatinine clearance (GFR can also be used in place of creatinine or CrCl) ≤1.5 X institutional upper limit of normal (ULN) OR ≥60 mL/min for subject with creatinine levels > 1.5 X institutional ULN Hepatic.
  • - Serum total bilirubin ≤ 1.5 X institutional ULN OR Direct bilirubin ≤ institutional ULN for subjects with total bilirubin levels > 1.5 institutional ULN.
  • - AST (SGOT) and ALT (SGPT) ≤ 2.5 X institutional ULN OR ≤ 5 X institutional ULN for subjects with Gilberts syndrome.
  • - Albumin >2.5 mg/dL.
  • - Coagulation.
  • - International Normalized Ratio (INR) or Prothrombin Time (PT) - Activated Partial Thromboplastin Time (aPTT) ≤1.5 X institutional ULN unless subject is receiving anticoagulant therapy as long as PT or PTT is within therapeutic range of intended use of anticoagulants.
≤1.5 X institutional ULN unless subject is receiving anticoagulant therapy as long as PT or PTT is within therapeutic range of intended use of anticoagulants.
  • - Creatinine clearance should be calculated per institutional standard.
  • - CT or MRI within 14 days prior of registration.
  • - An interval of at least 4 weeks (to registration) between prior surgical resection or one week for stereotactic biopsy.
  • - An interval of at least 12 weeks from the completion of radiation therapy to registration unless there is unequivocal histologic confirmation of tumor progression.
  • - Participants must have recovered to grade 0 or 1 or pre-treatment baseline from clinically significant toxic effects of prior therapy (including but not limited to exceptions of alopecia, laboratory values listed per inclusion criteria, and lymphopenia which is common after therapy with temozolomide).
  • - From registration, the following time periods must have elapsed: 5 half-lives from any investigational agent, 4 weeks from cytotoxic therapy (except 23 days for temozolomide and 6 weeks from nitrosoureas), 6 weeks from antibodies, or 4 weeks (or 5 half-lives, whichever is shorter) from other anti-tumor therapies (including vaccines).
No wash-out period required from TTF.
  • - Participants must have sufficient tissue from prior surgery revealing glioblastoma or variants for submission following registration.
The following amount of tissue is required:
  • - 1 formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tumor tissue block (preferred) OR.
  • - 10 FFPE unstained slides (5 μm thick) - Patients must be undergoing surgery that is clinically indicated as determined by their care providers.
Patients must be eligible for surgical resection with the expectation that the surgeon is able to resect at least 400mg of tumor with low risk of inducing neurological injury.
  • - Female subject of childbearing potential must have a negative urine or serum pregnancy within 72 hours prior to registration.
If the urine test is positive or cannot be confirmed as negative, a serum pregnancy test will be required. Women are considered post-menopausal and not of child bearing potential if they have had 12 months of natural (spontaneous) amenorrhea with an appropriate clinical profile (e.g., age appropriate, history of vasomotor symptoms) or six months of spontaneous amenorrhea with serum FSH levels > 40 mIU/mL and estradiol < 20 pg/mL or have had surgical bilateral oophorectomy (with or without hysterectomy) at least six weeks ago. In the case of oophorectomy alone, only when the reproductive status of the woman has been confirmed by follow up hormone level assessment is she considered not of child bearing potential.
  • - Women of child-bearing potential (WOCBP), defined as all women physiologically capable of becoming pregnant, must agree to use highly effective contraception during study treatment and for 120 days after study discontinuation.
Highly effective contraception is defined as either:
  • - True Abstinence: When this is in line with the preferred and usual lifestyle of the subject.
Periodic abstinence (e.g., calendar, ovulation, symptothermal, post-ovulation methods) and withdrawal are not acceptable methods of contraception.
  • - Sterilization: Surgical bilateral oophorectomy (with or without hysterectomy) or tubal ligation at least six weeks ago.
In case of oophorectomy alone, only when the reproductive status of the woman has been confirmed by follow up hormone level assessment (as described in item 3.1.16 above).
  • - Male Partner Sterilization (with the appropriate post-vasectomy documentation of the absence of sperm in the ejaculate).
For female subjects on the study, the vasectomised male partner must be the sole partner for that participant.
  • - Use of a combination of any two of the following: - Placement of an intrauterine device (IUD) or intrauterine system (IUS) - Barrier methods of contraception: Condom or Occlusive cap (diaphragm or cervical/vault caps) with spermicidal foam/gel/film/cream/vaginal suppository.
  • - Appropriate hormonal contraceptives (including any registered and marketed contraceptive agent that contains an estrogen and/or a progestational agent - including oral, subcutaneous, intrauterine, or intramuscular agents) - Male subjects must agree to use adequate method of contraception starting with the first dose of study therapy through 120 days after the last dose of therapy.

Exclusion Criteria:

  • - Current or planned participation in a study of an investigational agent or using an investigational device.
  • - Has a diagnosis of immunodeficiency.
  • - Has tumor primarily localized to the brainstem or spinal cord.
  • - Has presence of diffuse leptomeningeal disease or extracranial disease.
  • - Has received systemic immunosuppressive treatments, aside from systemic corticosteroids (such as methotrexate, chloroquine, azathioprine, etc) within six months of registration.
  • - Has received anti-angiogenic or anti-VEGF targeted agents (e.g. bevacizumab, cediranib, aflibercept, vandetanib, XL-184, sunitinib, etc).
  • - Requires treatment with high dose systemic corticosteroids defined as dexamethasone > 4 mg/day or bioequivalent for at least 3 consecutive days within 2 weeks of registration.
  • - Has received prior interstitial brachytherapy, implanted chemotherapy, stereotactic radiosurgery or therapeutics delivered by local injection or convection enhanced delivery.
  • - Has history of known coagulopathy that increases risk of bleeding or a history of clinically significant hemorrhage within 12 months of registration.
  • - Has a known history of active TB (Bacillus Tuberculosis).
  • - Has gastrointestinal bleeding or any other hemorrhage/bleeding event CTCAE Grade > 3 within 6 months of registration.
  • - Has a known additional malignancy that is progressing or requires active treatment within 3 years of registration.
Exceptions include basal cell carcinoma of the skin, squamous cell carcinoma of the skin, or in situ cervical cancer that has undergone potentially curative therapy.
  • - Has active autoimmune disease that has required systemic treatment in the past 2 years (i.e. with use of disease modifying agents, corticosteroids or immunosuppressive drugs).
Replacement therapy (eg., thyroxine, insulin, or physiologic corticosteroid replacement therapy for adrenal or pituitary insufficiency, etc.) is not considered a form of systemic treatment.
  • - Has known history of, or any evidence of active non-infectious pneumonitis.
  • - Has an active infection requiring systemic therapy.
  • - Has a history or current evidence of any condition, therapy, or laboratory abnormality that might confound the results of the trial, interfere with the subject's participation for the full duration of the trial, or is not in the best interest of the subject to participate, in the opinion of the treating investigator.
Examples include but are not limited to symptomatic congestive heart failure, unstable angina pectoris, cardiac arrhythmia or psychiatric illness/social situations that would limit compliance with study requirements.
  • - Has known psychiatric or substance abuse disorders that would interfere with cooperation with the requirements of the trial.
  • - Has received prior therapy with an anti-PD-1, anti-PD-L1, anti-PD-L2, anti-CD137, or anti-Cytotoxic T-lymphocyte-associated antigen-4 (CTLA-4) antibody (including ipilimumab or any other antibody or drug specifically targeting T-cell co-stimulation or checkpoint pathways).
  • - Has a known history of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) (HIV 1/2 antibodies).
  • - Has known active Hepatitis B (e.g., HBsAg reactive) or Hepatitis C (e.g., HCV RNA [qualitative] is detected).
  • - Has received a live vaccine within 30 days prior to registration.
  • - Has a known hypersensitivity to any of the study therapy products.

Trial Details

Trial ID:

This trial id was obtained from, a service of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, providing information on publicly and privately supported clinical studies of human participants with locations in all 50 States and in 196 countries.


Phase 1: Studies that emphasize safety and how the drug is metabolized and excreted in humans.

Phase 2: Studies that gather preliminary data on effectiveness (whether the drug works in people who have a certain disease or condition) and additional safety data.

Phase 3: Studies that gather more information about safety and effectiveness by studying different populations and different dosages and by using the drug in combination with other drugs.

Phase 4: Studies occurring after FDA has approved a drug for marketing, efficacy, or optimal use.

Phase 1
Lead Sponsor

The sponsor is the organization or person who oversees the clinical study and is responsible for analyzing the study data.

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Principal Investigator

The person who is responsible for the scientific and technical direction of the entire clinical study.

Patrick Wen, MD
Principal Investigator Affiliation Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Agency Class

Category of organization(s) involved as sponsor (and collaborator) supporting the trial.

Overall Status Completed
Countries United States

The disease, disorder, syndrome, illness, or injury that is being studied.

Brain Cancer
Additional Details

PD-1 works to help tumor cells continue to grow and multiply. Pembrolizumab (MK-3475) is a humanized monoclonal antibody. Humanized monoclonal is an antibody that is designed to block the action of the receptor, PD-1. The FDA (the U.S. Food and Drug Administration) has not approved Pembrolizumab for Glioblastoma but it has been approved for other uses.

Arms & Interventions


Experimental: Pre-surgery MK-3475

-After a screening phase of 14 days, eligible subjects will be randomized into two groups. Pembrolizumab (MK3475) pre-surgery at pre-determine dosage followed by Pembrolizumab at pre-determine dosage every 3 weeks post surgery. MK-3475 will be administered intravenously

Active Comparator: No MK-3475 at Pre-Surgery

-After a screening phase of 14 days, eligible subjects will be randomized into two groups. Pembrolizumab (MK-3475) at pre-determine dosage every 3 weeks post surgery. MK-3475 will be administered intravenously


Drug: - MK-3475

Contact a Trial Team

If you are interested in learning more about this trial, find the trial site nearest to your location and contact the site coordinator via email or phone. We also strongly recommend that you consult with your healthcare provider about the trials that may interest you and refer to our terms of service below.

University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California



University of California, Los Angeles

Los Angeles, California, 90095

University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California



University of California, San Francisco

San Francisco, California, 94143-0372

Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts



Massachusetts General Hospital

Boston, Massachusetts, 02114

Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts



Dana Farber Cancer Institute

Boston, Massachusetts, 02115

Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer, New York, New York



Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer

New York, New York, 10065

UT, MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas



UT, MD Anderson Cancer Center

Houston, Texas, 77030

Huntsman Cancer Institute, Salt Lake City, Utah



Huntsman Cancer Institute

Salt Lake City, Utah, 84112