Generating New Hope Through Pelotonia-Funded Research

Pelotonia funds support cancer drug development projects at Ohio State. Here’s a brief look at a basic-science study of a targeted agent that may improve cancer-killing virus therapy, and two clinical trials on novel drug combinations – one for patients with acute myeloid leukemia and the other for patients with triple-negative breast cancer.

Low Dose of Targeted Agent Could Improve Cancer-Killing Virus Therapy

Giving low doses of a particular targeted agent with a cancer-killing virus might improve the effectiveness of the virus in treating cancer. Viruses that are designed to kill cancer cells – called oncolytic viruses – have shown promise in clinical trials for the treatment of brain cancer and other solid tumors. This cell and animal study, led by principal investigator Balveen Kaur, PhD, and published in the journal Clinical Cancer Research, suggested that combining low doses of the drug bortezomib with a particular oncolytic virus might significantly improve the ability of the virus to kill cancer cells during oncolytic virus therapy.

Testing a 2-Drug Combination Against AML

Adult and pediatric patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) have a poor prognosis overall, but Alison Walker, MD, leads a phase I clinical trial for a two-drug combination that could significantly improve AML remission rates. Her team observed that patients with higher levels of a substance called miR-29b in their blood respond better to the chemotherapy drug decitabine than those with lower levels. Patients in this trial first receive a drug called AR-42, developed at Ohio State by a team led by Ching-Shih Chen, PhD, to raise their miR-29b levels, followed by decitabine therapy. Researchers want to see whether this combination will help more patients achieve complete remission.

Targeting Triple-Negative Breast Cancer

OSUCCC – James researchers are investigating novel combinations of targeted agents for patients with triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), an aggressive malignancy with a high rate of recurrence and poor prognosis. Erin Macrae, MD, is principal investigator for a phase II clinical trial in which patients with TNBC initially receive a drug called trametinib, followed by trametinib in combination with a drug called GSK2141795. The investigators hypothesize that these agents may stop the growth of tumor cells by blocking enzymes needed for the cells to grow. “By blocking these cancer-promoting pathways simultaneously, you have the potential to stop a cancer’s ability to become resistant to treatment,” says sub-investigator Maryam Lustberg, MD. Macrae notes that TNBC tumors fail to respond to targeted regimens currently available. “Our study explores a regimen that we hope will help these patients,” she says.

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