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Massey research leads to multi-institutional phase 1 clinical trial for relapsed/refractory aggressive lymphomas

Feb 24, 2015


Virginia Commonwealth University Massey Cancer Center researcher Steven Grant, M.D., is the co-principal investigator (PI) on a National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) grant funding a phase 1 clinical trial testing the drugs volasertib and belinostat in patients with relapsed and refractory aggressive B-cell and T-cell lymphomas. The $453,852 award will help implement the clinical trial at Massey, Yale Comprehensive Cancer Center and Johns Hopkins’ Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The multi-institutional clinical trial is based on pre-clinical research from Grant’s laboratory that found that Polo-like kinase 1 (PLK1) inhibitors such as volasertib interact synergistically with histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors such as belinostat to kill leukemia and lymphoma cells. Grant, Shirley Carter Olsson and Sture Gordon Olsson Chair in Cancer Research, associate director for translational research, co-leader of the Developmental Therapeutics research program and member of the Cancer Cell Signaling research program at Massey, is world renowned for developing novel chemotherapy combinations for the treatment of hematologic malignancies.

“We are enthusiastic about partnering with Johns Hopkins and Yale to translate this promising research,” says Grant. “Our primary goal in this trial is to establish the maximum tolerated dose of these drugs. However, if we are successful and side effects are acceptable, we are hopeful that further research will allow us to determine in a more definitive way whether this strategy offers benefit to lymphoma patients.”

At Massey, the clinical trial will be led by Beata Holkova, M.D., Harrison Endowed Scholar in Cancer Research and member of the Developmental Therapeutics research program at Massey. The NCCN grant requires that the trial commence by September 2015 and be completed within two years, though it may begin enrolling patients sooner, depending on the approval of institutional review boards.

Written by: John Wallace

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