Norris receives $1.6-million grant for prostate cancer drug trial
Posted October 26, 2010 at 12:10 am in News
The National Institutes of Health awarded the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center a three-year $1.6-million grant for clinical trials of a new drug to treat prostate cancer.
After skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer among American men. The drug, AEZS-108, may offer hope to patients with few remaining options and could be a more effective and less toxic treatment for all sufferers of advanced prostate cancer.
âIâm very enthusiastic,â said Dr. Jacek Pinski, associate professor of medicine who led the research team. âThis particular drug offers a more direct treatment while reducing toxicity and decreasing side effects.â
Pinski and his team, which includes multiple oncologists, researchers and instructors from USC, received the grant after submitting a comprehensive amount of preclinical data to the National Institutes of Health.
âIts not easy to get these kinds of big grants from the NIH,â Pinski said. âWe had to ensure there was sufficient preclinical data in our proposal to demonstrate that the project is meaningful and the drug is effective.â
AEZS-108 allows for a more focused treatment as a result of the LH-RH peptide that is capable of recognizing a protein on the cancer cells and directing itself to them, reducing the detrimental effects on other healthy cells.
Pinskiâs former instructor and mentor, endocrinologist Dr. Andrew Schally received the Nobel Peace Prize after discovering the peptide LH-RH in 1977. The combination of the peptide with doxorubicin was first evaluated in clinical trials for women with different types of cancer in Europe. Those studies determined the drugâs relatively low toxicity, but this will be the first time it is assessed for the treatment of prostate cancer.
The clinical trial, which will take place at the Norris Centerâs Clinical Scientific Office, will include 55 participants, all of whom have metastasized and castration-resistant prostate cancer. The other qualification is that the patients must have failed treatment attempts with a traditional chemotherapeutic agent. Therefore, the drug is something of a last resort for many of the participants, Pinski said.
âThe traditional prostate cancer patient, or any patient with a localized disease, generally has success with surgical or radiotherapy treatments,â Pinski said. âBut in cases of reoccurrence and metastization there are significantly fewer treatment options. We hope to change that.â
The research team will conduct an abbreviated Phase I trial to gauge any toxicity differences in men. After that they will move on to Phase II, where they administer the drug and collect data via tumor measurements, CT and bone scans.
The Norris Center is collaborating with Dr. Yu-Chong Tai of the California Institute of Technology, whose newly developed porous artificial-membrane device will collect circulating tumor cells for analysis. The new device is meant to be quicker and more efficient, expediting the analysis process.
âAfter we collect the data weâre going to measure the reception of the tumor cells and correlate it to our clinical outcome measures,â Pinski said.
The trial is set to begin in the next few weeks according to the research team, which is waiting for the drug to be delivered. If the trial proves effective and noninvasive during the three-year study, Pinski said it will make great strides in the advanced prostate cancer treatment.