All new therapies, biomarkers or other medical discoveries must be tested in patients through clinical trials. This complex and demanding process requires a high degree of compassion and medical expertise, as well as communication and organizational skills. Thus many specialized experts working closely as a team.
The IPCR has two integrated clinical trials teams: one focused on developing and testing therapies for advanced disease; and the other developing and testing therapies designed to be used with surgery and radiotherapy for treating localized prostate cancers (those in which tumors are only in the prostate and have not spread to other organs in the body).
Many of the clinical trials are unique to Seattle. Several new research studies, called novel studies, involve the first evaluation of new therapeutic treatments in people. Other trials involve more than one research institution and originate through cooperation with leading national clinical trials groups involving the major cancer centers in the United States and abroad.
IPCR clinical trials include some of the most innovative therapies currently being evaluated nationally. The institute includes one of 10 National Cancer Institute-funded prostate cancer Specialized Programs of Research Excellence (SPORE). As a result, IPCR physicians participate in new therapy trials often available only to that group, allowing UW Medicine patients to receive new, better treatments as quickly as possible.
IPCR clinical trials researchers are also members of the Department of Defense Prostate Cancer Clinical Trials Consortium and have access to many trials conducted by this special group of 12 leading prostate cancer centers in the United States.
Our clinical trial accomplishments
Molecular Studies in localized disease:
- Neoadjuvant therapy, giving other treatments before the traditional primary treatment for a localized disease, has improved the outcomes of many cancer patients. In the past, these therapies have been slow to reach many cancer patients because their success could be judged only after many years of follow-up and study.
IPCR researchers have helped pioneer a new, quicker approach for evaluating neoadjuvant therapies. At the time of the primary surgery or just before radiation therapy, physicians take a cancer specimen for molecular analysis. In this way, scientists are able to tell more quickly whether a new therapy is effective by looking at the way molecules in the cancer specimen react to the therapy.
- So far, the IPCR team has conducted large neoadjuvant molecular studies of chemotherapy drugs and, more recently, of newer hormone therapies. Many more molecular neoadjuvant studies are in the planning stages.
- Every tumor (and patient) has unique characteristics, dictated by gene variations. The molecular analyses of cancers provide an opportunity for researchers to develop a personalized approach to treating and following a patient’s particular cancer.
Innovative treatments for advanced disease:
- Although suppressing testosterone and administering chemotherapy prolong survival for men with advanced prostate cancer, most cancers eventually develop resistance to these interventions. IPCR investigators have conducted Phase I, first-in-human, trials designed to block tumors’ resistance mechanisms, allowing patients in the Northwest to be the first recipients of treatments resulting from these promising laboratory findings.
- Encouraging results from novel studies involving antibodies targeting the Insulin-like Growth Factor-1 Receptor (IGF-1R) and small molecules targeting the stress response protein clusterin, have led to clinical trials designed to substantially improve the longevity of men with advanced prostate cancer.
- IPCR investigators are also key participants in trials involving new effective therapies developed elsewhere, such as Provenge, abiraterone, and MDV-3100.