Clinical trials for bile duct cancer

Through our clinical trials program — one of the most extensive in the nation — bile duct cancer patients can often access promising new anti-cancer drugs and technologies not available elsewhere.

Some of our current research projects include:

Trametinib (Mekinist®) is a targeted therapy drug that can stop tumor development by removing enzymes necessary for bile duct cancer cells to grow, and City of Hope is part of a Phase II trial to see if this drug is more effective than combination therapy for patients with advanced or recurrent bile duct cancer. This trial will also evaluate the side effects differences between these two regimens to see which less toxic and easier to tolerate.

In many cases, combining chemotherapy and radiation (chemoradiation) can be more effective than either therapy alone, but it can also lead to more severe side effects as well. In a Phase I clinical trial, City of Hope researchers are seeing if combining the cancer drug gemcitabine (Gemzar®) with radiation therapy is well tolerated in bile duct cancer patients and if so, determine the optimal dose for cancer-fighting effectiveness.

Overexpression of the HER2 protein in some bile duct cancers can be exploited for imaging purposes, since they will take in more trastuzumab (Herceptin) than normal tissues. Using this knowledge, researchers are investigating whether linking trastuzumab to imaging agent 64Cu-DOTA results in better visualization of tumors in a positron emission tomography (PET) scan.