For about five months, Christine Snyder has been travelling from her home to the Wilmot Cancer Institute to take part in a clinical trial. Synder is a patient with ovarian cancer says that to be involved in a clinical trial is not insignificant to her by any means. She said that she has firm belief in the research and anything that can be done to evade cancer.
She goes there every 3 weeks for treatment as a part of an ongoing study to assess whether chemotherapy alone could be as effective as chemo and surgery for repetitive ovarian cancer.
The trial is among the several which were opened in 2016 at Wilmot through the National Cancer Institute and NRG Oncology, a non-profit cooperative group that carries out and leads clinical research with institutions in the country. These trials address pertaining questions regarding treatment for gynaecologic cancers, like cervical, endometrial and ovarian. In addition to the national treatment trials, Wilmot also provides trials which are available only in Rochester, and that includes one which is evaluating potential molecular biomarkers for risk prediction of a pelvic mass that becomes cancerous.
Sajeena Thomas, M.D., said that they are a part of a movement to change the future of gynaecologic oncology. And continued that it is phenomenal to give patients trials that will play a role in shaping which will become the standard of care giving.
For several gynaecologic cancers, progress in survival has been slow, and there have been very few advances in the last decade. Researchers are into finding options beyond the conventional chemotherapy, and many of the trials at Wilmot mainly focus on targeted therapies. Chemotherapy cannot relatively discriminate with its impact on cancerous cells and normal cells; there targeted therapies can act on specific genes or other bio molecules responsible for the growth, progression and spread of cancer.
Richard Moore, M.D, said that they are presently learning more about how cancer develops, what are their weaknesses and ways to exploit them. He said that regularly, new targets are identified and so also novel drugs that can successfully target them.
Among the novel class of drugs are the PARP inhibitors, which block an enzyme in cancerous cells that help to repair damaged DNA. These under trial drugs are showing promises in delaying the repetition of ovarian cancer among women who carry BRCA gene mutations and for those with different genetic profiles.
Moore said that at a centre like this, it’s essential to offer a community cutting-edge care and allow an access to drugs which are not widely available.
Though targeted therapies and precision medicine are very promising, their very nature means they don’t work on every cancer, and Wilmot scientists are looking for more and better possibilities.
Moore leads a team for Gynaecologic Cancers who are on the verge of finding new molecules that one day could become therapies that leverage various features of tumours. For example, they focus on molecules which could counteract a protein called HE4, a marker for ovarian cancer.
Their team is also part of a clinical trial studying tumour cells which circulate the blood of women who have a pelvic mass. Their aim is to identify biomarkers and formulate a test that uses them and estimate the chances of the mass are malignant. Wilmot is the only site in the U.S. to take part in this study and a parallel study is being conducted in Europe as well.
With this, we conclude. Keep looking into this space for more informative articles to come.
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