July 2016 — Pennsylvania Cancer Consortium Established to Conduct Phase 2 Clinical Trials under New Award from the National Cancer Institute
UPCI’s Phase 1 clinical trials team, under the leadership of Edward Chu, MD and Jan Beumer, PharmD, PhD was recently awarded a three-year supplement to their UM1 Phase 1 grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to support the conduct of Phase 2 clinical trials of novel anti-cancer agents and/or combination regimens in solid tumors and hematologic malignancies. UPCI is one of only twelve lead academic centers in the US that is part of the NCI Experimental Therapeutics Clinical Trials Network (ETCTN). For this new Phase 2 effort, UPCI has formed a partnership with the Abramson Cancer Center (ACC) at the University of Pennsylvania to establish the Pennsylvania Cancer Consortium (PCC), which represents a collaborative effort between the two largest NCI-designated comprehensive cancer centers in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Watch Dr. Chu discuss this new collaboration in the video below.
June 2016 — New NCI Grant Funds Collaborative Effort to Improve Early Detection of Pancreatic Cancer
A majority of pancreatic cancer patients (>80%) present with a surgically unresectable primary tumor with distant metastasis at the time of diagnosis due to the lack of associated symptoms and lack of methods for early detection. While the overall 5-year survival rate of pancreatic cancer is low, significantly better outcomes have been reported for early stage, smaller tumors.
Supported by a newly funded grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), Randall Brand, MD, Professor of Medicine, Academic Director of the GI Division at UPMC Shadyside, and Director of the GI Malignancy Early Detection, Diagnosis and Prevention Program, and his colleagues both at the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Nebraska are developing novel biomarker-based blood tests that may detect pancreatic cancer earlier and distinguish between dangerous and benign pancreatic cysts. Specifically, the research team has conclusively established that overexpression of the glycoprotein mucin is a hallmark of pancreatic cancer, and has identified several biomarkers (MUC5AC and its 2 glycoforms, MUC4 and a glycoform of endorepellin) that hold promise for clinical benefit in pancreatic cancer detection and risk prediction. Watch Dr. Brand discuss these studies in the video below.
May 2016 — Big Data Researchers Aim to Build Better Models to Predict Cancer Outcomes
A team of “big data” researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University, in collaboration with UPMC and the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center, are working to develop better methods for integrating, analyzing and modeling large volumes of diverse data on cancer patients. The ultimate goal of this project, which is supported by a $5 million, three-year Commonwealth Universal Research Enhancement (CURE) grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Health, is to produce more accurate predictions of patient outcomes and to enable clinicians to tailor care for each patient.
Watch Gregory Cooper, MD, PhD, Professor and Vice Chair of Biomedical Informatics and Contact Principal Investigator for this Big Data for Better Health (BD4BH) grant, discuss the ongoing work of their collaborative team, and read the initial press release here.