Clinical Trial Insight – What’s New in Oncology Medicine?
OHC offers the Greater Cincinnati area the largest group of Medical Oncology specialists providing access to cutting-edge research. Participating in clinical trials allows patients access to new treatments before they are widely available and helps the advancement of science and improved medical care. This includes access to new medicines or treatment protocols.
All research protocols go through a rigorous Investigational Review Board (IRB) approval process which includes the development of an Informed Consent Form which details all of the risks and benefits of participating in the study and is discussed in detail with the patients prior to enrolling in a study.
OHC partners with the Sarah Cannon Research Institute (SCRI) to obtain research protocols to provide to its patients. SCRI is a global strategic research organization focusing on advancing therapies for patients. It is one of the largest clinical research programs, conducting community-based clinical trials in oncology as well as cardiology through affiliations with a network of more than 700 physicians in the United States and United Kingdom. SCRI is unique because it focuses not only on serving the drug development industry and other principal investigators, but also on developing its own innovative SCRI-sponsored research.
The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting held in June 2013, included presentations on a myriad of cutting-edge, novel therapies that are coming to the forefront of contemporary clinical research. Many of these involved clinical trials that were available to OHC patients. Dr. David Waterhouse, OHC’s Chief of Research Department, offered the following evaluation of this year’s meeting:
This advance has only happened as a result of the extraordinary strides in the past few years in genomics research and the ability to sequence individual patient’s DNA and in particular the individual patient’s cancer’s DNA.
Significantly, cancers from different anatomic locations may share common molecular characteristics or may be affected by the same molecular pathways, such that therapies used for one tumor type may be used for other anatomically different but molecularly similar malignancies. We are already seeing the applications of this principle – HER2 targeting in breast cancer or gastroesophageal cancer, or the use of imatinib in chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) or gastrointestinal stromal (GIST) tumors.
Likewise, the BRAF mutation can be found to a greater or lesser degree in melanoma, liver cancer, renal cell carcinoma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, metastatic colorectal cancer, papillary thyroid cancer, non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), adenocarcinoma of the lung and hairy cell leukemia. Similarly, PD-1 (programmed death 1), which limits the body’s immune response to cancer and has previously been associated with breast cancer, has now been found in melanoma, NSCLC and renal cell carcinoma. Anti–PD-1 therapy was included in several key presentations at the ASCO meeting. Many more cross-tumor molecular pathways have been identified that may change how personalized medicine is viewed and how patients with cancer are treated.
We soon expect clinical trials that will target biomarkers of specific pathways, independent of the cancer of origin. Still, barriers to such trials have been identified and are being addressed at both local and national levels. There remain many questions, such as who will pay for biomarker testing and genomic sequencing? How will trials be designed and executed, recognizing that the target population may represent only a very small percentage of patients with their type of cancer? Due to the volume of potential targets, how will investigators prioritize such studies? How can targeted agents be combined, and how will they fit into our current armament of cytotoxic chemotherapies?
It is very reassuring and exciting to know that OHC, through its partnership with the SCRI, is on the cutting edge of these initiatives. Putting a patient in a clinical trial is the ultimate way to put patients first.
Dr. David Waterhouse (M.D., M.P.H) is chief of OHC’s Research Department and a principal investigator supporting the area of lung clinical research trials. You can contact Dr. Waterhouse via our form or toll free at 1-800-710-4676. You may also refer a patient here.