Advanced clinical trials on cancer treatment coming to RMC
by Patrick McCreless
pmccreless@annistonstar.com
May 05, 2012 | 3745 views |  0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Certain Regional Medical Center patients will soon have access to cutting-edge treatments for cancer as part of research to fight the disease.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Cancer Care Network is enrolling patients for the first phase of a new clinical trial for the treatment of certain cancers. Patients eligible for the trial are those being treated at the Cancer Care Network’s affiliates, including RMC. The Anniston hospital was one of the first affiliates to join the network last year.

“This is something we’re looking forward to working out the details on,” said RMC spokeswoman Hilary Folsom.

Patients chosen for the trial will benefit from RMC’s affiliation with UAB by not needing to travel excessively to participate, said Ruby Meredith, lead scientist over the clinical trial and professor of radiation oncology at UAB.

“As things get in place more, a patient might be able to do more follow ups there and not have to go to Birmingham as much,” she said.

Sponsored by a Maryland-based medical research company called AREVA Med, the two-year-long, phase one clinical trial will focus on patients with ovarian, pancreatic, colon, gastric, endometrial or breast cancers that have metastasized to the abdominal region. Excluded from participation in the research are patients who are younger than 19 years old, female patients who are breastfeeding and patients with certain allergies.

The procedure being tested involves specifically targeting cancer cells in patients without damaging their healthy cells. Through the procedure, a certain type of radioisotope is attached to an antibody, which is then injected into a patient. The antibody automatically travels to the cancer cells of the patient and then exposes them to the short-range isotope, theoretically killing the diseased cells without harming healthy tissues.

The new procedure differs from current accepted cancer treatment methods such as chemotherapy, which targets cancer cells but also damages healthy cells, causing various side effects in patients, said Bill Chambers, director of clinical cancer research and immunology for the American Cancer Society.

Chambers said scientists have researched variations of UAB’s test procedure for several years –- mainly on breast cancer –- and that the studies show promise.

“This is very actively being pursued –- it’s very exciting, actually,” he said. “This is another approach to targeting cancers other than breast cancer. It’s something to be hopeful for.”

Meredith agreed. She said UAB did a related study years ago that had good results, but had to stop because it ran out of the necessary isotope and antibody.

“It took us a while to get another agent that is available … a different one that we think is better,” she said.

Though the clinical trial is gearing up, residents should not expect the treatment to be readily available in hospitals anytime soon. Meredith said that after the first phase, the procedure will move to a second phase of research, testing to see just how effective it is in destroying cancer cells. The research will then move into a third and final phase, comparing the procedure to standard care and determining if it could replace or should just be combined with cur-rent available treatments.

Patients who want to know more about the clinical trial and might want to participate should visit www.targetedtrials.com or www.uabradonc.com.

Staff writer Patrick McCreless: 256-235-3561. On Twitter @PMcCreless_Star

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