The method of treating cancer patients who have genomic abnormalities with drugs designed specifically to target those abnormalities has resulted in higher response rates than have been previously seen. Often times these discoveries are made as part of a clinical trial. Patient participation in clinical research studies contributes to the advancement of scientific discovery and the development of the next generation of cancer treatments. Innovation of clinical trial design and the need to assess and streamline established processes for developing and executing these studies is more important than ever before. A $600,000 gift from Jewels of Charity is fueling a comprehensive clinical trial initiative at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey that will address those needs.
The effort is known as the Institutional Multidisciplinary Paradigm to Accelerate Collaboration and Translation (IMPACT). The aim -- as illustrated in the acronym -- is to enhance the way cancer discoveries are translated from the laboratory bench to patient bedside and back again. Further development of the IMPACT initiative will require increasing scientific depth to enable new approaches to improve the prevention, early detection, diagnosis and treatment of cancers.
Showing its commitment to clinical research and making a significant investment in this effort, the Cancer Institute earlier this year recruited a new Associate Director for Clinical Science. Howard L. Kaufman, MD, FACS, a leader in clinical and translational research, is nationally known for his work in cancer immunotherapy and melanoma. As part of the IMPACT initiative, Dr. Kaufman will lead six new specialized clinical trials aimed at molecular targets, as opposed to a specific tumor type, utilizing the strengths and capabilities of the Cancer Institute. The Jewels of Charity gift will enable $100,000 to be devoted to each of the six studies.
One of the six clinical trials will focus on a new approach that utilizes T cells (part of the white blood cells) from cancer patients in which the cells are genetically modified to attack only cancer cells. This approach requires specialized centers such as the Cancer Institute that have the capability of preparing these cells. These cells already have shown major clinical responses in patients with certain blood cancers, such as B cell lymphomas, chronic lymphocytic leukemias and in Hodgkin's lymphoma patients that have not responded to other treatments. It is expected that this approach will first be tested in patients with lymphoma and then in solid tumors, such as melanoma, ovarian cancer and lung cancer. The aim is to confirm the effectiveness and safety of these new agents and provide the best possible care for patients with difficult to treat cancers or those that have not responded to more established treatment options.
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