TGen, Scottsdale Healthcare lead worldwide study of new drug for patients with pancreatic cancer

November 19, 2012

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- A new cancer drug combination demonstrated significant improvement in overall survival of late-stage pancreatic cancer patients compared to those receiving standard treatment, according to results of a Phase III clinical trial led by physicians from Scottsdale Healthcare's Virginia G. Cancer Center Clinical Trials, a partnership with the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen).

Physicians at the Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center at Scottsdale Healthcare were first to design a clinical trial to determine the safety, tolerability and effectiveness of nab-paclitaxel (Abraxane) in combination with the standard drug gemcitabine in patients with advanced pancreatic cancer. Results of that multicenter study chaired by Dr. Daniel Von Hoff were encouraging enough that it led to one of the largest international studies ever done in pancreatic cancer, with 861 patients.

Full results are expected to be presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) 2013 Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium in Jan. 24-26 in San Francisco.

"This is a great example of rapid bench to bedside development of new treatments for cancer. We're ecstatic that we will have a new treatment for patients with late stage pancreatic cancer," said Dr. Von Hoff, international lead investigator and Chief Scientific Officer for the Virginia G. Cancer Center Clinical Trials at Scottsdale Healthcare and TGen's Physician-In-Chief.

The pancreas is a gland behind the stomach that secretes enzymes into the upper part of the small intestine to help digestion. It also produces hormones, including insulin, which helps regulate the metabolism of sugars. Advanced pancreatic cancer is fourth most common cause of cancer death in the United States and throughout the world. It is a difficult to diagnose and treat cancer with the lowest survival rates among all cancer types.

Nab-paclitaxel (Abraxane) is an albumin-bound formulation of paclitaxel, produced by Celgene Corp. Dr. Von Hoff said that results of the MPACT (Metastatic Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma Clinical Trial) study will lead Celgene to submit for FDA approval.

"Pancreatic cancer incidence is increasing worldwide with almost 220,000 cases per year, and we are optimistic that this will have worldwide impact for treating advanced pancreatic cancer," added Dr. Ramesh Ramanathan, Medical Director of Virginia G. Cancer Center Clinical Trials at Scottsdale Healthcare and principal investigator for the United States.

Dr. Von Hoff credited the support of Scottsdale Healthcare Foundation, Stand Up to Cancer and the Seena Magowitz Foundation for advancing the study at the Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center at Scottsdale Healthcare. He noted that TGen and International Genomics Consortium scientists in collaboration with scientists from Abraxis Bioscience found that in pancreatic cancer, an albumin-binding protein called SPARC was present at high levels in cells within the pancreatic tumor microenvironment. They hypothesized that the albumin formulation of nab-paclitaxel may be taken up by tumor and surrounding cells with high SPARC expression.
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Individuals seeking information about eligibility to participate in clinical trials at the Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center at Scottsdale Healthcare may contact the cancer care coordinator at 480-323-1339; toll free at 1-877-273-3713 or via email at clinicaltrials@shc.org.

About the Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center at Scottsdale Healthcare

The Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center at Scottsdale Healthcare in Scottsdale, Ariz. offers comprehensive cancer treatment and research through clinical trials, diagnosis, treatment, prevention and support services in collaboration with leading scientific researchers and community oncologists. Scottsdale Healthcare is the nonprofit parent organization of the Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center at Scottsdale Healthcare, Scottsdale Healthcare Research Institute, Scottsdale Healthcare Osborn Medical Center, Scottsdale Healthcare Shea Medical Center and Scottsdale Healthcare Thompson Peak Hospital. For more information, visit www.shc.org.

Press Contact:

Keith Jones
Public Relations Director
Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center at Scottsdale Healthcare
480-323-1383
kjones@shc.org

About TGen

The Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) is a Phoenix, Arizona-based non-profit organization dedicated to conducting groundbreaking research with life changing results. Research at TGen is focused on helping patients with diseases such as cancer, neurological disorders and diabetes. TGen is on the cutting edge of translational research where investigators are able to unravel the genetic components of common and complex diseases. Working with collaborators in the scientific and medical communities, TGen believes it can make a substantial contribution to the efficiency and effectiveness of the translational process. For more information, visit: www.tgen.org.

Press Contact:

Steve Yozwiak
TGen Senior Science Writer
602-343-8704
syozwiak@tgen.org

The Translational Genomics Research Institute

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