Every year, the Conquer Cancer Foundation of the American Society of Clinical Oncology funds research grants that provide critical start-up funding for young physician-scientists, with the goal of enabling them to develop successful careers in cancer research so that they can bring new treatments into the clinic and improve the lives of patients with cancer. Clearly, the programs are working: Three of the studies featured in the recently released Clinical Cancer Advances 2012: ASCO’s Annual Report on Progress Against Cancer, which identifies the top advances of the year in clinical cancer research, were funded in part by Conquer Cancer Foundation of ASCO Career Development Awards (CDAs). All three researchers are also past recipients of the Foundation’s Young Investigator Award (YIA).
Major Advances Highlighted
Identified as a major advance in the report, a study led by Arti Hurria, MD, (2002 YIA, 2005 CDA) reveals factors that predict risk for chemotherapy side effects in older adults. Older patients with cancer are generally more vulnerable to harmful adverse effects of chemotherapy, but there are no objective factors to determine which elderly patients are at elevated risk. This study proposes a predictive model to address this concern and provides a sorely needed tool to inform chemotherapy decision-making for elderly patients with any type and stage of cancer.
A study led by Paul Paik, MD, (2011 YIA, 2012 CDA) identifies new therapeutic targets for squamous cell lung cancer through molecular testing of tumor specimens. Squamous cell carcinoma accounts for approximately 40% of lung cancer cases, and the development of targeted drugs for this cancer has been slow compared with development of drugs for other cancers, because few druggable targets have been discovered, until now.
A phase II trial led by Mark Dickson, MD, (2009 YIA, 2011 CDA) shows that the targeted drug PD0332991, a CDK4 inhibitor, has promising effects in a subset of patients with liposarcoma, which is the most common soft tissue sarcoma in adults. After 12 weeks of treatment with PD0332991, 70% of patients on the trial had no disease progression, which exceeded what was anticipated from historical controls.
To learn more about the advances led by these three Foundation-funded researchers, read the 2012 report recently published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology at www.jco.org or at www.cancerprogress.net/cca. For more information about the Career Development Award visit www.conquercancerfoundation.org/cda. ■
© 2012. American Society of Clinical Oncology. All Rights Reserved.