TGen researchers go to bat for cancer patients in two innovative clinical trials for pancreatic cancer patients
Mattress Firm-funded trials seek to shrink tumors in advanced cases
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Pairing new combinations of drugs to shrink pancreatic cancer tumors, the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) and HonorHealth Research Institute have launched a pair of groundbreaking clinical studies.
The two studies, which are being funded in part thanks to a $1.5 million contribution to TGen from Mattress Firm, are relying on cutting-edge approaches to how new therapies are combined to determine the best way to treat the disease.
One of the two studies, known as the Grand Slam, opened for enrollment today for its first group of patients. Grand Slam is a unique five-drug regimen that blends a combination of chemotherapy, immunotherapy and a special form of Vitamin D. It builds upon the positive findings from TGen Triple, the first of the two clinical trials, which paired three drugs and resulted in high percentage shrinkage of tumors for the patients that were treated.
“Both of these clinical trials are new stepping stones, building on previous TGen-led studies that have produced the current FDA-approved treatments for patients with advanced pancreatic cancer,” said Dr. Daniel D. Von Hoff, TGen Distinguished Professor and Physician-in-Chief, and Chief Scientific Officer for the HonorHealth Research Institute. Dr. Von Hoff is the architect of both studies. Dr. Erkut Borazanci and Gayle Jameson, N.P., both of HonorHealth and TGen, are the principal investigators for the studies.
TGen Triple uses two anti-cancer agents, gemcitabine and (albumin-bound) nab-paclitaxel, the current standard of care for patients with advanced pancreatic cancer. It adds a third drug, platinum-based cisplatin, to boost its effectiveness.
Grand Slam, also known as the NAPPCG clinical trial, relies on those three chemotherapy drugs plus two additional elements: nivolumab, an immunotherapy drug designed to inhibit proteins that block the body’s immune system from attacking cancer cells, and paricalcitol, which is a Vitamin D derivative that researchers hope will extend patients’ survival. Dr. Von Hoff hopes this new trial will prove to be a significant next step in the treatment of this devastating disease that strikes so quickly and aggressively.
The clinical trials are taking place at HonorHealth in Scottsdale, and could expand to other facilities, including Mayo Clinic in Arizona.
Bristol Myers Squibb is providing the immunotherapy drug nivolumab, plus other partial support, for the Grand Slam clinical trial. Nivolumab, initially approved by the FDA in 2014 for treatment of advanced melanoma, and more recently lung cancer, works by inhibiting a protein called PD-1, which otherwise blocks the body’s immune system from attacking cancer cells.
Both studies are supported by funding from Mattress Firm, the nation’s largest bedding specialty retailer based in Houston, Texas, which is dedicated to stopping pancreatic cancer. This year, pancreatic cancer will kill nearly 42,000 Americans, surpassing breast cancer as the third-leading cause of cancer-related death. By 2020, it is predicted to surpass colon cancer to become the second-leading cause of cancer death; second only to lung cancer. Pancreatic cancer has a five-year survival rate of less than 10 percent, the lowest among all cancer types in the U.S.
“Many of our colleagues, their families and friends have been affected by this terrible disease,” said Steve Stagner, Executive Chairman of Mattress Firm. “We are backing TGen in this extraordinary effort because we have a duty to be part of their incredible journey toward improving lives and finding a cure for pancreatic cancer.”
Michael Bassoff, President of the TGen Foundation, voiced high praise for Mattress Firm’s commitment to TGen research: “Steve Stagner, Ken Murphy, and the entire Mattress Firm team are bringing hope to thousands of patients and their families across the nation and around the world. Their latest contribution, and the launch of the Grand Slam trial, adds to the incredible legacy that this extraordinary company is building through its fight against pancreatic cancer.”