January 27, 2006

Contract boosts cancer trials’ menu

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Alan Sandler, M.D.

Contract boosts cancer trials’ menu

The Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center has been chosen by the National Cancer Institute to join an elite group of institutions asked to test the most cutting-edge cancer treatments in Phase II clinical trials in both solid tumor and hematologic malignancies.

“This is an opportunity to participate in novel drug studies of new agents being tested in a specific malignancy for the first time,” said Alan Sandler, M.D., director of Thoracic Oncology at Vanderbilt-Ingram, who was awarded the grant and will lead Vanderbilt's participation in the program. “This will provide our patients with access to top of the line treatments that may not be offered anywhere else.”

The contract provides funding based on patient accrual and runs from Jan. 1, 2006, through Dec. 31, 2011. Vanderbilt-Ingram will team up with several other cancer centers in the Southeast who will work together to recruit patients to conduct the Phase II trials for the NCI. Only nine sites will participate in the program.

“It was a competitive application process. 20-25 other consortiums competed for this and we are among only a half dozen or so who achieved it,” said Sandler.

“Having been chosen, we'll now work with the other centers in the consortium to conduct trials and study these new drugs for the NCI. Although it is wonderful doing industry-sponsored studies, it is nice to work with the NCI,” he added.

“I am really excited by Dr. Sandler's recent consortium contract to support Phase II studies for new drugs here at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center,” said Raymond DuBois, M.D., Ph.D., director of Vanderbilt-Ingram. “Alan will determine whether these new drugs are hitting their intended targets or doing something else. He will correlate these findings to the clinical outcome of the study patients. Moving forward, this kind of approach will be instrumental in developing effective novel therapies for our cancer patients.

Sandler said this new contract with the NCI compliments the current contract at Vanderbilt-Ingram to conduct Phase I clinical trials under the direction of Mace Rothenberg, M.D., Ingram Professor of Cancer Research.

“In the Phase II trials we'll be trying to determine whether the drug has activity in specific malignancies. We will also include correlative studies, requiring blood and/or tumor samples, in these trials.

“Therefore these types of studies will involve interactions between both the clinical and laboratory scientists at Vanderbilt. We want to try to understand why the drug did or didn't work to better understand the mechanisms and actions,” Sandler said.

He said Vanderbilt-Ingram hopes to be able to open up the Phase II trials for patients in the Cancer Center's affiliate network (VICCAN) as well, allowing a wider group of people in the community to benefit from the cutting-edge treatments.

VICCAN includes 12 locations in Tennessee, Kentucky and Georgia.

To find out more about enrolling in clinical trials at Vanderbilt-Ingram, log on to: www.vicc.org and click on the left column highlighting clinical trials.