September 11, 2009

VICC expands Phase 1 clinical trials program

VICC expands Phase 1 clinical trials program

Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center is expanding its Phase I Drug Development Program with newly dedicated clinical space and new leadership.

Jordan Berlin, M.D., associate professor of Medicine, has been named director of the Phase I cancer research program and Igor Puzanov, M.D., assistant professor of Medicine, has been named associate director.
Berlin currently serves as clinical director of Gastrointestinal Oncology for VICC.

Jordan Berlin, M.D.

Jordan Berlin, M.D.

Puzanov specializes in research on molecular targets for renal cell cancer and melanoma.

Igor Puzanov, M.D.

Igor Puzanov, M.D.

“I am very excited about this opportunity,” said Berlin. “Vanderbilt has an incredibly talented team of researchers and it is our goal to translate that research into exciting Phase I clinical trials.

“Having Dr. Puzanov on the leadership team is a real honor. He brings great foresight and energy to the program. We also have an incredibly dedicated clinical trials staff. Together we will be expanding the program at Vanderbilt.”

The Cancer Center is dedicating up to 15 rooms in the new Chemotherapy Infusion Clinic — a third of the VICC infusion space — for the Phase I program, based on patient need.

As a National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, VICC performs basic science research into the molecular underpinnings of cancer and translates that research into new treatment options for patients.

In the Phase I Program, those promising new anti-cancer compounds emerging from the laboratory are offered to patients who are interested in clinical trials. Clinical trials in this program are designed to define dose-limiting toxicities, to identify the maximum tolerated dose that can be used in subsequent Phase II and Phase III testing, and to describe the pharmacokinetic behavior of the compound.

Newer compounds with different mechanisms of action — such as angiogenesis inhibitors, signal transduction inhibitors, and growth factor inhibitors — are presenting an entirely new challenge to cancer investigators.

“Newly discovered genetic mutations in many types of cancer have revealed intriguing new treatment targets,” said David Johnson, M.D., deputy director of VICC.

“Under the leadership of these two experienced cancer investigators, we will be expanding our ability to test the most promising new cancer drugs.”

The expansion of the Phase I program confirms the Cancer Center's commitment to personalized medicine.

“We have made a substantial investment in individualized patient treatment by recruiting personalized medicine investigators as well as experts in drug discovery,” said Dan Beauchamp, M.D., associate director of Clinical/Translational Programs at VICC.

“With the expansion of our Phase I program, we are truly the only cancer center in the region providing the full spectrum of investigational research as well as treatment options for patients.”