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Issue 20

Spring 2011

Melanoma Clinical Research Update
In March of this year, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) approved Yervoy (ipilimumab). It is the first drug shown to prolong the lives of people with melanoma. Yervoy is currently under study at SCCA under the direction of Dr. Kim Margolin, professor of medical oncology at the University of Washington.

From Bench to Bedside
Getting the best new glioblastoma treatments to patients “From bench to bedside” is a concept that most all medical discoveries are based on. Physician researchers find new treatments in the laboratory and through clinical trials, bring them to patients.

New Leader of Lung Cancer Early Detection & Prevention Clinic
Dr. David Madtes is the new director of SCCA’s Lung Cancer Early Detection and Prevention Clinic. Madtes is an associate professor of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at the University of Washington.

Diamond-Blackfan Anemia Family Information Day
Seattle Children’s is hosting an event for those affected by Diamond-Blackfan anemia (DBA) on April 30, from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

SCCA NEWS $11.5 Million for Breast Cancer Translational Research and New Treatments
The National Cancer Institute awarded Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center’s Seattle Cancer Consortium Breast SPORE (Specialized Program in Research Excellence) 

New Proton Center Groundbreaking
Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and Northwest Hospital broke ground on March 22 to build the SCCA Proton Therapy Center, a ProCure Center.  


Melanoma Clinical Research Update

In March of this year, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) approved Yervoy Doc Margolin photo(ipilimumab). It is the first drug shown to prolong the lives of people with melanoma.

Yervoy is currently under study at SCCA under the direction of Dr. Kim Margolin, professor of medical oncology at the University of Washington.

“This is an altogether new approach to immunotherapy,” Margolin says, “in that it blocks the signals that T lymphocytes use to control normal reactions.” The result is that T lymphocytes and the cells that assist them in recognizing and eradicating tumor cells are re-activated.

“Since these T cells are already immunized to the tumor’s own antigens, it does not involve a vaccine or highly toxic drug, nor does it require specific patient selection like the new targeted therapies for melanoma or some of the other forms of immunotherapy,” Margolin says. “Future trials are likely to combine many different types of treatment with this molecule and to use similar treatments with improved qualities that don’t stimulate an autoimmune reaction side effect as ipilimumab can.”

Several patients at SCCA have benefited from Yervoy. More than 20 percent of the people who have received this drug in clinical studies have lived at least two years, and some of them much longer. But there is no way to predict which patients will benefit from the drug.

“I am very excited about this new drug,” Margolin says. “It’s a new era…many changes to our way of thinking about this dreaded disease.”

According to the American Cancer Society, there were about 68,000 new cases of melanoma in the United States in 2010, and 8,700 deaths, though the number of cases is rising. To learn more about melanoma trials offered at SCCA, go to
www.seattlecca.org/clinical-trials/melanoma.cfm.

 

From Bench to Bedside

Getting the best new glioblastoma treatments to patients “From bench to bedside” is a concept that most all medical discoveries are based on. Physician researchers find new treatments in the laboratory and through clinical trials, bring them to patients.

doc photoDr. Robert Rostomily, a leading neurosurgeon at University of Washington Medical Center, is conducting research with the Institute for Stem Cell & Regenerative Medicine that will have a direct effect on the patients he treats for glioblastoma tumors in the future.

Rostomily is learning how glioma cells invade the body to cause cancer metastasis. Epithelial to Mesenchymal Transition (EMT) is an invasion process that has been linked to cancer stem cell activity in gliomas. Glioma cancer stem cells may thus be important for tumor growth and metastasis.

“Understanding this process [cancer stem cell growth] will help us target treatments better,” Rostomily says. “The key regulatory function in gliomas may affect broader types of cancer, too. If we can target one, it may have a broader affect on treatment resistance in general.”

Stem cells and brain cancer

“Stem cells are a therapeutic delivery system,” Rostomily says. It’s figuring out how to get stem cells to do the work in treatment that will be the key to better patient outcomes.

Kiem photoDr. Hans-Peter Kiem is investigating using bone marrow (stem cell) transplants, with “protected stem cells,” for treating solid tumors, specifically glioblastoma.

“The concept is straightforward,” he says. “We’ve worked in the lab to make [bone marrow] stem cells resistant to chemotherapy. One of the genes we’ve been using makes [bone marrow] stem cells resistant to the key chemotherapies used for glioblastoma (GBM).”

In general, when certain chemotherapy drugs are used, GBM patients become neutropenic and their counts become too low to deliver enough chemotherapy to treat the cancer. The idea from Kiem’s lab is to perform a non-myeloablative (mini) bone marrow transplant, give patients stem cells that have been pre-protected with the resistance gene, and then treat the cancer with more doses of chemotherapy than can be used otherwise. Patients become neutropenic for only a couple of days and the entire treatment is done on an out-patient basis.

“The patient can then receive more chemotherapy drugs than would typically be possible to treat their cancer, which will result in better treatment and survival,” Kiem says. There have been three patients on this trial already. Two are still on the study and one is now off of the study. “We are continuing chemotherapy longer in these patients than in any other study currently,” Kiem says.

After they receive their transplant at SCCA, each patient is sent back to their neuro-oncologist.

“Time will tell if this will result in better outcomes, but we are very happy with the results,” he says. “We’ve had very good stem cell engraftment of these chemo-protective cells.”

From bench to bedside, physician researchers work to put new medical discoveries into action to eventually become tomorrow’s treatment for patients. For more information about translational brain cancer research, contact Sandra Johnston, PhD, RN, researcher, at (206) 288-6365.

 

New Leader of Lung Cancer Early Detection & Prevention Clinic

Madtes photoDr. David Madtes is the new director of SCCA’s Lung Cancer Early Detection and Prevention Clinic. Madtes is an associate professor of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at the University of Washington. He is also the director of Critical Care Medicine and the Pulmonary Function Laboratory at SCCA. He has more than 20 years of experience in treating pulmonary problems among cancer patients. He understands the importance of early diagnosis of lung cancer and has a special interest in using minimally invasive methods for early lung cancer detection. In addition to his clinical expertise, his research focuses on the identification of gene expression profiles in lung cancer and in radiation-induced lung injury.

For more information about the clinic or to refer a patient, visit www.seattlecca.org/lung-cancer-early-detection-clinic.cfm or call (800) 804-8824.

 

Diamond-Blackfan Anemia Family Information Day

Seattle Children’s is hosting an event for those affected by Diamond-Blackfan anemia (DBA) on April 30, from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Please inform your patients and families about this event, where they can learn about medical updates and meet other patients and families affected by DBA. Attendees are asked to RSVP, by calling (206) 987-7021 or e-mailing kathleen.mcgregor@seattlechildrens.org.

Diamond-Blackfan anemia is a rare disease that is characterized by a shortage of red blood cells due to decreased production by the bone marrow. Platelets and white blood cell counts are typically normal. Some patients with DBA have malformed thumbs, or cleft lip or palate, receding chin, kidney abnormalities, or heart abnormalities, and may be short in stature. Some patients have no apparent clinical signs of this disease other than anemia.

Most patients will be diagnosed within the first year of life. However, some adults have also been diagnosed. Bone marrow transplantation (hematopoietic stem cell transplant) is curative for DBA. HLA-matched sibling donor transplants usually have better outcomes than unrelated donor transplants. At Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, the unrelated donor transplant results for bone marrow failure diseases are worth emphasizing as they are similar to those obtained using matched sibling donors. SCCA and Seattle Children’s hematologists work in partnership to care for adults with this disease.

Regular monitoring by a hematologist experienced in this disease is important, as anemia can improve or worsen over time. Regular monitoring also assist in the early detection of a malignancy should it occur.

Learn more about DBA on the web at www.seattlecca.org/diseases/diamond-blackfan-anemia-overview.cfm.

 

SCCA NEWS

$11.5 Million for Breast Cancer Translational Research and New
Treatments

The National Cancer Institute awarded Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center’s Seattle Cancer Consortium Breast SPORE (Specialized Program in Research Excellence) with $11.5 million for positively impacting breast cancer prevention, detection, treatment and care of women who have or are at risk for the disease.

Co-principal investigators Drs. Peggy Porter and Mac Cheever are members of the Human Biology and Clinical Research divisions, and will lead the consortium. Their mission is “to provide unique breast cancer treatment options that are developed from the science at the Center and the UW,” said Cheever, an expert in cancer immunotherapy who is working to move leading-edge science out of the lab and into the clinic, where it will be made available to cancer patients enrolled in clinical studies, a process known as translational research.

New Proton Center Groundbreaking

Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and Northwest Hospital broke ground on March 22 to build the SCCA Proton Therapy Center, a ProCure Center. This will be the first proton therapy center in the Pacifi c Northwest and only the 13th in the Unites States, of which the nearest is in southern California.

“The SCCA Proton Therapy Center represents the future of radiation therapy in the Pacifi c Northwest,” said Dr. Fred Appelbaum, SCCA executive director and president. “We are excited by the possibilities it offers, both for patients and research. It is a formidable new weapon we’ll have to combat cancer.”

Proton beams deliver precise doses of charged particles to tumors, thereby minimizing damage to surrounding healthy tissue. Compared to conventional photon-based (X-ray) radiation treatment, proton beams deliver more radiation precisely to the targeted tumor. Safer delivery of higher doses to tumors increase the likelihood that tumors will be killed.

Proton beams are used today to treat many solid tumor cancers such as those of the head and neck, eye, skull base and prostate. However, the potential exists to treat many more types of tumors, including those of the lung, breast and abdomen, according to Dr. George Laramore, chairman of the Department of Radiation Oncology at the University of Washington.

The SCCA Proton Therapy, a ProCure Center is scheduled to open in 2013.

Newsletter Executive Editor: Norman Hubbard, COO
Editor-in-Chief: Claire Beck-Keeler
Editor: Amy Poffenbarger
Medical Editor: James Dean, MD, PhD

Related Documents:

04-13-2011 SCCA 11.02_Leading Edge Newsletter_prod.pdf (2031kb)

Adult Bone Marrow Transplant News

The SCCA Adult Bone Marrow Transplant News is a publication presenting the latest information on bone marrow transplant research at SCCA, providing up-to-date information for all health care professionals caring for transplant patients.

Pediatric Bone Marrow Transplant News

Read about important outcomes research at the Fred Hutch that may benefit your patients.

Clinical Trials Monthly

Each issue of Clinical Trials Monthly highlights several of the more than 200 clinical trials that are currently recruiting patients at SCCA.

The Leading Edge Newsletter

Each quarterly Leading Edge newsletter will highlight a new topic to give you the latest news on leading-edge therapies that SCCA physicians are offering.