The Gateway for Cancer Research Puts Patients First by Supporting Clinical Studies for Treatments Now
The Gateway for Cancer Research always keeps one statistic in mind as it makes decisions on research to support: 1,500 cancer patients die each day.
“Our primary consideration in granting support is to improve treatment options and quality of life for cancer patients today,” says The Gateway President Lynette Biscotti, a 14-year cancer survivor. “We support truly innovative and promising research that has potential to positively impact the lives of cancer patients at the earliest opportunity. We’re not interested in cancer research that experiments on laboratory mice for years and years without cures.Virtually all endured the debilitating side effects of traditional treatments and left their loved ones to wonder whether anything else could have saved them. The Gateway wonders that too – and puts its money into research focused on saving lives now. The Gateway channels 99 cents of every dollar it receives directly into funding promising cancer research.
“The research we support is always and only about the patient and is focused in three areas--novel combination therapies, new drug investigations and complementary and alternative cancer treatments. Our mission is to speed clinical breakthroughs to the bedside to help cancer patients feel better, live longer and, ultimately, be cured.”
The Gateway’s aggressive approach involves providing funding to leading researchers at renowned institutions across the US and around the globe. These Treatment Innovators constantly push the boundaries of cancer treatment, looking for novel approaches through clinical trials.
The institutions to which Gateway has provided research funding include MD Anderson, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, John Hopkins University, Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research, UCSD Moores Cancer Institute and Washington University School of Medicine.
Clinical trials supported by The Gateway include:
• Phase I and Phase II focused on accelerating treatment and quality of life.
• Traditional and integrative therapies including complementary and alternative medicine (CAM).
• Novel use of existing drugs.
• Personalized medicine to optimize patients’ therapeutic care for all types of cancer.
• National and international studies.
At the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas, researchers are investigating a new way to administer curcumin to cancer patients who have not responded to traditional treatments – chemotherapy and radiation. Curcumin is a derivative of tumeric, a popular spice often used in Indian food, and has shown impressive antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anticancer activity in the human body.
This exciting new study employs nanotechnology, a manipulation of matter at the molecular level, to derive a new form of curcumin that is water-dispersible and easily absorbed into the bloodstream. This type of technology may allow a high level of curcumin to be achieved in the circulation, and this should increase its therapeutic efficacy. Funded by The Gateway, this is the first Phase 1 clinical study to use a newly designed, nanotechnology-enhanced curcumin compound in humans.
The clinical trial participants have metastatic cancer and short life expectancies. Among the study group, there are many forms of cancer. The theory is that curcumin fights cancer by inhibiting several cancer pathways, whereas most other drugs only inhibit a few. Launched in late 2011, the study has shown that this type of orally administered nanoparticle curcumin is well tolerated with few to no side effects. Although it’s early in the study, two patients have demonstrated tumor shrinkage, which in one case is already substantial.
“These results are preliminary, but if nanoparticle curcumin can shrink tumors without significant side effects, it has potential to be an appealing and cost-effective drug,” says Siqing Fu, MD, PhD, who is leading the team with Razelle Kurzrock, MD.
“Continued study will clarify results and may open new doors for patients living with cancer.” Dr. Fu credits The Gateway for having the insight to support the study. “Unfortunately, very few agencies will fund this type of study,” he says. “It would not have been possible without The Gateway support.”
Adds Dr. Kurzrock: “We are grateful to The Gateway for its commitment to the study of natural products. While curcumin has shown clear anticancer activity in the lab, it is essential that we continue our study with patients. Only then can we make progress in finding natural ways to stop disease progression and improve patients’ quality of life.”
Beyond the early promise of the curcumin itself, the two researchers say the landmark study could encourage more funding for rigorous research on the effects of natural products and the integration of leading-edge technology. One quarter of all drugs developed have originated with plants.
The Gateway has a proven track record in supporting studies that involve natural ingredients. Bisconti says “We support well designed CAM research because the role of complementary and alternative therapies in the fight against cancer holds immense promise and quite frankly, patients want this information. They want less-toxic, more effective treatment options.” Bisconti adds that this study is a prime example of what is possible when clinical trials by respected researchers are conducted using outside the box ideas.
For more information about Gateway-funded clinical trials, visit: demandcurestoday.org/research