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Investigators

Award advances retrospective analysis of HCRN LUN14-179

Investigators working on the HCRN LUN14-179 study, which involved the use of concurrent chemoradiation with consolidation pembrolizumab for unresectable stage III non-small cell lung cancer, anticipated that some patients would experience pneumonitis. But they did not know which of their patients might be more susceptible than others.

To learn more about the rates of pneumonitis among study participants, and whether biomarkers could be identified that might predict whether a patient might be more susceptible, researchers at the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center launched a retrospective analysis of the study data. Read More

Alistar a compassionate innovator in GI cancer research

Angela Alistar, MD, has long considered both the emotional and physical well-being of patients as mutually paramount. A medical oncologist with Atlantic Hematology Oncology, Atlantic Medical Group, and the medical director of GI Medical Oncology at Carol G. Simon Cancer Center at Morristown Medical Center, Dr. Alistar held this conviction even before she pursued a career in medicine.

“Throughout my training and my career I have gravitated towards trying to understand the impact that illness has on patients and their families,” Dr. Alistar said. “Oncology seemed the appropriate fit for me because patients with cancer have high emotional needs and require tremendous support from their families and from their doctors,” she reflects. “This is why oncology is my path in medicine.”

For Dr. Alistar, compassion walks hand-in-hand with scientific passion. Before assuming her current role, she developed a research portfolio for GI cancers at Wake Forest School of Medicine, including investigator-initiated studies and Phase I studies in pancreatic cancer, cholangiocarcinoma, and colon cancer.

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Genomic analysis and biorepository research study takes aim at metastatic bladder cancer

Hoosier Cancer Research Network is partnering with the Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network (BCAN) to conduct a large-scale bladder cancer genomic analysis and biorepository research study.

Known as UC-GENOME (HCRN GU15-217), the research study is the first project of the Bladder Cancer Genomics Consortium (BCGC), a collaborative effort between BCAN and major medical centers. The BCGC’s goal is to develop an enriched understanding of the genomic profile of bladder cancer to facilitate the development of novel therapeutics.

The research study is open to accrual at the University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center in Chapel Hill, N.C. Additional sites are expected to open soon. Read More

HCRN study tests mFOLFIRINOX combined with ramucirumab in advanced pancreatic cancer

Researchers investigating many types of cancers have celebrated significant breakthroughs over the years. Yet, some cancers lag well behind these successes.

Pancreatic cancer remains one of the most difficult to treat cancers. In 2016, about 53,000 new pancreatic cancer cases were diagnosed in the United States, and nearly 42,000 people died of their disease. Despite these statistics, there are glimmers of hope on the horizon.

Recent studies have shown that certain combination therapies can lead to improved outcomes over single agent therapy in pancreatic cancer. For example, a study of FOLFIRINOX (a combination of the drugs fluorouracil (5-FU), irinotecan, oxaliplatin, and leucovorin) was shown to improve one-year survival compared to gemcitabine alone.

As immunotherapies have gained prominence, pancreatic cancer researchers are now looking to take combination therapies to a new level. Read More

Study tests combination immunotherapy in advanced bile duct cancer

Cholangiocarcinoma, also known as bile duct cancer, is steadily rising in incidence worldwide. Symptoms often go undetected until the disease is far advanced. Surgical resection of tumors is considered the best approach toward attempting a cure, but less than half of patients whose tumors are surgically resected survive past five years, and those whose tumors are not surgically removed face a median survival time of just nine months.

A new Hoosier Cancer Research Network study may help researchers learn whether an investigational combination of immunotherapy drugs might lead to improvements in tumor response in cholangiocarcinoma patients who have received prior therapy for their cancer.

The study, known as HCRN GI16-263, is now open to accrual at the Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center in Washington, D.C. Additional sites will open the study in the near future.

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Study tests nivolumab, ipilimumab in treatment-naive kidney cancer

Hoosier Cancer Research Network (HCRN) announces the opening of a study for patients with advanced renal cell carcinoma who have not received prior treatment for their kidney cancer.

The phase II clinical trial, known as HCRN GU16-260, involves front-line therapy with nivolumab and salvage therapy with nivolumab and ipilimumab. The study may help researchers determine the activity of nivolumab, an agent already approved for patients with previously treated kidney cancer, in patients who have not received prior treatment.

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HCRN study compares sequence of immunotherapy and anti-angiogenic drugs in metastatic kidney cancer

A new Hoosier Cancer Research Network study may help researchers learn whether the order in which two drugs are given has any effect on progression-free survival — the length of time it takes for cancer to grow or spread.

The randomized phase II study, known as HCRN GU15-223, will compare overall progression-free survival for two groups of subjects with metastatic renal cell carcinoma (kidney cancer). One group will receive first-line sunitinib, an anti-angiogenic drug, followed by second-line avelumab, an investigational immunotherapy drug. The other group will receive first-line avelumab followed by second-line sunitinib. Patients will have an equal chance of being randomized to either group.

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Gbolahan receives Fisher Young Investigator Award

Hoosier Cancer Research Network, formerly known as Hoosier Oncology Group, recently honored Olumide Gbolahan, MD, as the 2016 recipient of the George and Sarah Jane Fisher Young Investigator Award.

Dr. Gbolahan grew up in Nigeria where his interest in medicine took root in high school. “My aptitude was really more toward the health sciences, biology core sciences,” he said. “I found myself moving in the direction of medicine. Once I found myself in medicine, I did not see that I could do anything else.” Read More

Study tests safety, efficacy of pembrolizumab and Y90 in locally advanced hepatocellular carcinoma

Hepatocellular carcinoma is an aggressive cancer that is often difficult to treat due to the typical accompanying diagnosis of cirrhosis. For patients who qualify for curative treatment, surgery and liver transplant may be considered. However, most patients are not eligible for curative therapy, and instead may be offered liver-directed or systemic therapies that may extend overall survival, but outcomes remain poor for these patients.

A new Hoosier Cancer Research Network study led by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will help determine whether adding an immunotherapy drug to standard local radiation therapy for patients with high-risk hepatocellular carcinoma could lead to further improvements in overall survival.

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Results from three HCRN studies presented at GU ASCO

Three Hoosier Cancer Research Network studies were featured in poster sessions during the 2017 Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium, Feb. 16-18 in Orlando.

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HCRN study combines bone-targeting drug with androgen deprivation therapy for metastatic prostate cancer

Hoosier Cancer Research Network (HCRN) announces the launch of a cancer clinical trial for subjects with newly diagnosed metastatic prostate cancer with bone metastases.

The study, known as GU13-170, will compare the good and bad effects of adding Radium-223 dichloride, a bone-targeted drug, to androgen deprivation therapy, the usual treatment for this type of cancer.

The study is now open to accrual at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center. Subjects who enroll on this study will be randomized by chance to one of two groups. The first group, called Arm A, will receive androgen deprivation therapy with bicalutamide. This is the usual treatment. The second group, called Arm B, will receive androgen deprivation therapy with bicalutamide plus the study drug, Radium-223 dichloride. Read More

New study evaluates efficacy of immunotherapy drug in treatment of incurable germ cell tumors

Hoosier Cancer Research Network (HCRN) recently launched a cancer clinical trial evaluating the efficacy of the PDL-1 inhibiting drug pembrolizumab in the treatment of patients with incurable platinum refractory germ cell tumors.

The study, known as HCRN GU14-206, is now open to accrual at the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center. This is a single arm study in which all subjects will receive the study drug, pembrolizumab.

Men and women age 18 and older who have incurable platinum refractory germ cell tumors (testicular or ovarian) may be eligible for this study. Other criteria must be met to fulfill eligibility requirements. Read More

Galsky presents oral abstract on GU10-148

In an oral abstract session at the 2016 Genitourinary Cancers Symposium, Matthew Galsky, MD, reported on the HCRN GU10-148 study, a phase II trial of gemcitabine and cisplatin plus ipilimumab as first-line treatment for patients with metastatic urothelial carcinoma. Dr. Galsky (pictured), of the Tisch Cancer Institute, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, is sponsor-investigator of the multi-center trial. Read More

Investigators report on QL12-153 study

In a new journal article published online ahead of print in Supportive Care in Cancer, Hoosier Cancer Research Network investigators reported on results of QL12-153, a phase II study of fosaprepitant + 5HT3 receptor agonist + dexamethasone in patients with germ cell tumors undergoing 5-day cisplatin-based chemotherapy. The multi-center study was led by sponsor investigator Lawrence H. Einhorn (pictured), of the Indiana University School of Medicine. Read More

HCRN study combines immunotherapy and chemotherapy in advanced colorectal cancer

Hoosier Cancer Research Network recently opened a cancer clinical trial for subjects with advanced colorectal cancer. The study, known as GI14-186, involves the study drug called pembrolizumab, given in combination with mFOLFOX6, a standard chemotherapy regimen for advanced colorectal cancer. The study is currently open to accrual at the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center, The Ohio State University, and Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University.

Cancer cells often create proteins called PD-1 that act as signals to turn off part of the immune system that recognizes cancer as foreign. Pembrolizumab blocks this signal and allows the immune system to recognize and attack these cancer cells.

The use of pembrolizumab in combination with mFOLFOX6 is investigational. This means that the FDA has not approved this combination of drugs for this type of cancer. This study will allow researchers to know whether adding pembrolizumab to the usual chemotherapy drugs makes the treatment work better, the same, or worse than the usual approach.

Participants in this study must have advanced colorectal cancer, and have not had prior systemic therapy for advanced or metastatic disease. Additional criteria must be met to be eligible for this study. Read More

HCRN forms new working group for symptom management

Hoosier Cancer Research Network recently launched a Symptom Management Clinical Trial Working Group. The group grew out of a desire of many to see improvements in quality of life for patients, from diagnosis through survivorship.

Formation of the group was sparked by Julie Otte, PhD, RN, OCN from the Indiana University School of Nursing and her commitment to enhancing the patient experience. “It’s one thing to do this great research, but it has to be something that eventually makes it to the patient,” said Otte, co-chair of the group. Read More

Danielson award winner Rahma exploring immunotherapy in GI cancers

In 2009, Osama Rahma, MD, was settling in to the National Institutes of Health as part of a team that focused on the development of cancer vaccines and the emerging field of cancer immunotherapy. It was a time when the interaction between the immune system and cancer cells was just starting to become clear.

“We were pretty naïve in thinking that you can just stimulate these immune cells by injecting the vaccine with a specific target in patients and try to stimulate the immune response,” he recalls, “but later on we started learning about what we now call immune checkpoint inhibitors. Those are more powerful drugs that actually target the break in the immune system and unleash the immune system to attack the cancer cells.”

Six years later, Dr. Rahma is now an assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Hematology/Oncology at the University of Virginia School of Medicine, and the promise of immunotherapy has begun to bear fruit. Read More

Zon, Hussain nominated for ASCO leadership roles

Former Hoosier Cancer Research Network vice chair Robin T. Zon, MD, FACP, FASCO, has been selected by the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Nominating Committee as a candidate for president-elect. Dr. Zon (pictured left) is a vice president and senior partner at Michiana Hematology-Oncology, P.C. She served as HCRN vice chair from 2006 to 2009 and as chief community officer from 2009 to 2010. She has been a member of ASCO since 1997.

In addition, Maha H. A. Hussain, MD, FACP, FASCO, has been nominated for election to the Board of Directors. Dr. Hussain (pictured right) is associate director of clinical research at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, which is a member of Hoosier Cancer Research Network. She was instrumental in the formation of the Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium. Read More

Chiorean exploring targeted therapies in GI cancers

Those who follow the trends in modern cancer research know we have entered a new era of discovery. The old strategy of indiscriminately attacking the body to rid it of cancerous cells is giving way to more targeted approaches to treating disease.

E. Gabriela Chiorean, MD, associate professor of medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine and recipient of the 2014 Danny Danielson Translational Innovation Award, has been steadily gathering tumor samples and blood through clinical studies she has conducted. Biospecimens such as these, collected from consenting patients, are crucial for investigators to learn more about the biomarkers that fuel the development of specific cancers.

Correlative studies built around these biospecimens can help scientists learn why some patients respond to treatment while others do not, and in turn, better predict which patients will be good candidates for specific therapies. Read More

Moore joins HCRN Board of Directors

Hoosier Cancer Research Network, a nonprofit cancer research organization in Indianapolis, recently welcomed Annette Moore, MD, as a member of its board of directors.

A medical oncologist/hematologist at Community Howard Regional Health in Kokomo, Ind., Moore earned her medical degree from the University of Mississippi and completed her internal medicine residency and fellowship in hematology/oncology at the Indiana University School of Medicine. Read More

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