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From Notion to Knowledge: Cancer Research Saves Lives

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Left to right: Theresa Werner, MD, Neeraj Agarwal, MD, Conan Kinsey, MD, Deborah Stephens, DO
Left to right: Theresa Werner, MD, Neeraj Agarwal, MD, Conan Kinsey, MD, Deborah Stephens, DO

Clinical trials at Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) help find better ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat cancer by testing the safety and effectiveness of new drugs and treatments. On average, there are between 150–200 clinical trials open to HCI patients at any given time. Here are just a few highlights.

A New Option for Ovarian Cancer Patients

This international clinical trial among women with aggressive ovarian cancers who received a new combination treatment of chemotherapy and a PARP inhibitor, followed by maintenance therapy with a PARP inhibitor, showed significant improvement relative to patients who received only standard-of-care chemotherapy. These findings were published in the New England Journal of Medicine in October 2019. Evaluation of this drug combination continues today to monitor side effects in patients and its impact on survival.

It is gratifying to see a potential new treatment as there are few options available in newly diagnosed ovarian cancer. This brings new hope to ovarian cancer patients everywhere.

Theresa Werner, MD
Associate Professor, Internal Medicine
PARP Inhibitor Trial Principal Investigator (NCTN 2470585) and New England Journal of Medicine paper co-author

Improving Outcomes in Advanced Prostate Cancers

The FDA approved the apalutamide drug from the TITAN clinical trial in 2019. This was an international study in which HCI played a major role. Apalutamide significantly increased overall survival in many men who have advanced prostate cancer. Though the drug is not a cure, it provides information to test other therapies for prostate cancer. This finding was published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2019.

A remarkable aspect of apalutamide is that not only does it significantly improve survival, it does so without adversely impacting quality of life.

Neeraj Agarwal, MD
Professor, Internal Medicine
TITAN Clinical Trial International Steering Committee Member (NCTN 02489318) and New England Journal of Medicine paper co-author

Progress on a Promising Pancreatic Cancer Treatment

Pancreatic cancer is an aggressive disease with few treatment options. In 2019, results published by Martin McMahon, PhD, and Conan Kinsey, MD, PhD, in Nature Medicine described an innovative laboratory study of a potential new pancreatic cancer treatment that showed promising early results. This study has now progressed to two Phase I clinical trials to test its safety and get an early look at efficacy in pancreatic and other gastrointestinal cancers. The doctors hope this new treatment will provide fewer side effects.

With every clinical trial, we get closer to understanding how to combat pancreatic cancer in better ways and get closer to a cure.

Conan Kinsey, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor, Internal Medicine
THREAD Clinical Trial Principal Investigator (NCTN 03820529)
UTAH Clinical Trial Principal Investigator (NCTN 04145297)

Expanding the Use of CAR T Cell Therapy

HCI is the first adult cancer hospital in the Mountain West to offer chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapy, an immunotherapy that has been approved for use in certain blood cancers. In addition, HCI is offering innovative CAR T clinical trials that expand options for patients who might benefit from an immunotherapy for their cancer. With CAR T trials already available for leukemia, lymphoma, and multiple myeloma, HCI anticipates opening new trials to patients with other types of cancer, including lung and genitourinary, in 2020.

Clinical Trial Phases

Infographic of clinical trial phases

Cancer touches all of us.