April 21, 2014 | by Darrin Joy
Clinical trials are expensive and complex, but they’re essential for bringing new therapies to patients. Edward Newman, Ph.D., associate professor of molecular pharmacology, just boosted City of Hope's ability to conduct those studies with a five-year, $4.2 million grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI).
The grant is the largest awarded to a City of Hope investigator by the National Institutes of Health this fiscal year.
The funds support the collaboration of three National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer centers — City of Hope, the University of Southern California/Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center and University of California, Davis Cancer Center. The trio will participate as a consortium in the NCI Early Therapeutics-Clinical Trials Network.
The consortium of cancer centers has been conducting clinical trials together for two decades, evaluating new drugs in phase I studies.
Phase I clinical trials are the first step in testing new treatments in patients. Clinical researchers use them to look for a drug’s side effects, determine if a drug works in patients and find the maximum safe dose for a drug.
Bolstered by the grant, Newman and his colleagues will continue their efforts to speed promising therapies from the lab to patients — but they’ll take it a step further. They will study how the drugs interact with cancer cells on a molecular level. The findings could point to better ways of developing new and effective drugs for a variety of cancers.
“There’s always a need for better treatments,” said Newman, who also is co-director of our Analytical Pharmacology Core Facility. “If we can determine the mechanisms drugs use to impact cancer cells in the lab and in patients, and then compare those, we might find a way to streamline drug development.”
The group also will look for biomarkers — tell-tale signs of cancer such as unique proteins or DNA patterns — and how drug treatment changes those biomarkers in cancer cells. They then can compare how those biomarkers change with how well a patient responds to the new drug. This could lead to better ways of monitoring treatment progress so physicians can adjust therapy quickly to improve a patient’s prognosis.
Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health under grant number 1UM1CA186717-01. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.
Learn more about clinical trials at City of Hope.