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Massey awarded grant to collaborate with other elite cancer institutes on cutting-edge clinical trials

Jul 06, 2020

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VCU Massey Cancer Center has received a UM1 sub-award from the National Cancer Institute to participate in the North American Star Consortium (NASC), an association of leading cancer institutes that collaborate on novel National Cancer Institute (NCI)-sponsored clinical trials featuring some of the most promising cancer therapies available.

Other members of the NASC are Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, H. Lee Moffitt Comprehensive Cancer Center, Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center at UT Southwestern, Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey and Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University.

Massey physician-researcher Steven Grant, M.D., associate director for translational research, co-leader of the Developmental Therapeutics research program and the Shirley Carter Olsson and Sture Gordon Olsson Chair in Cancer Research at Massey, will serve as principal investigator for the sub-award, which will provide Massey with $735,000 for three years.

The funding will allow Massey to remain an active member of the NCI’s Experimental Therapeutics Clinical Trials Network (ET-CTN), a group of elite cancer centers that work with the pharmaceutical industry to conduct early clinical evaluations of innovative cancer treatments through phase 1 and phase 2 trials.

“This initiative provides Massey with the ability to participate in leading-edge cancer trials involving targeted chemotherapeutic drugs, immuno-oncology agents and radiopharmaceuticals, among others,” said Grant. “It also allows us to extend our own trials to include members of the NASC as well as other ET-CTN institutions.”

ET-CTN trials are intensively reviewed by the scientific community. Protocols are generally developed by a team of investigators including basic scientists, translational scientists and clinical investigators, all of whom are authorities on the involved drugs and/or diseases.

ET-CTN participation also grants Massey scientists access to ET-CTN Core Facilities, including the Molecular Characterization (MoCha) laboratory as well as laboratories focused on pharmacokinetics (the branch of pharmacology concerned with the movement of drugs into, through and out of the body), pharmacodynamics (the branch of pharmacology concerned with the effects of drugs on the body) or immuno-oncology. All trials are accompanied by robust correlative laboratory studies designed to understand the mechanisms responsible for success or failure of the drug regimen under examination.

The UM1 sub-award is based in large part on Massey’s participation over the last 15 years in NCI-based trials, as well as its strong track record in developing and conducting numerous laboratory-based studies in patients with cancer.

Other Massey physician-scientists participating in this award include Harry Bear, M.D., Ph.D., interim associate director for clinical research, the Walter Lawrence, Jr., Distinguished Professor in Oncology and chair of the Division of Surgical Oncology at Massey; Andrew Poklepovic, M.D., medical director of the Massey Clinical Trials Office; Gary Simmons, D.O. Mark Malkin M.D., director of the Division of Neuro-Oncology and the William G. Reynolds, Jr., Chair in Neuro-Oncology at Massey; Brian Strife, M.D., and Zhijian Chen, M.D., Ph.D.

“This award will have implications for virtually all cancer types, as trials proceeding through the ET-CTN broadly involve diverse hematologic malignancies as well as solid tumors,” said Grant. “Many of these trials involve tumor types with specific genetic abnormalities, therefore representing precision medicine-based trials.” 

Written by: Melissa Mitchell

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