Gateway supports Phase I and Phase II human clinical trials to engage in new drug discovery and the novel use of existing drugs, and to pilot complementary and alternative therapies. Phase I and Phase II clinical trials are underfunded, yet have the greatest patient impact in conquering cancer. Some specific research types we have supported include:
- Targeted Therapies: While conventional chemotherapy acts against all actively dividing cells, targeted therapies are drugs that more precisely address the molecules promoting cancer cells. By halting the growth and/or survival of those cells, targeted therapies have the potential to slow and/or eliminate cancer without the degree of toxicity and side effects experienced with chemotherapy.
Dr. Edward Lin of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center is conducting a Gateway-funded Phase II clinical trial. His treatment targets chemo-resistant colorectal cancer stem cells by combining oral chemotherapy with an anti-inflammatory drug. Following clinical trials, approximately 40% of Dr. Lin’s 150 patients now have little or no detectable presence of cancer – a much higher survival rate than average.
- Epigenetics: By turning a gene ‘on’ or ‘off,’ epigenetic research can target the body’s own cells to support treatment.
Dr. Weili Sun of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles is using new epigenetic approaches to target cancer gene characteristics among children suffering from acute myeloid leukemia. Children with this disease experience high relapse rates because as their cancer progresses, specific genes are suppressed and they become less responsive to treatment.
- Integrative Modalities (CAM): CAM therapies include mind-body methods, biologically based practices, body based practices, energy medicine and whole medical systems. These therapies are not currently part of standard medical care because they are not viewed as being backed by rigorous research—Gateway is investing in that research. Often, these therapies make the most difference in quality of life and response to cancer treatment. We cannot relegate them to the fringes of cancer treatment when they have not yet been fully explored.
Dr. Gary Deng at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center is piloting the use of acupuncture as a complementary modality for reducing symptoms and improving overall quality of life for cancer patients.
We are re-defining “cure.” While helping people live longer is the ultimate goal of most cancer research, we are simultaneously re-defining what we mean when we say we are seeking a “cure.” Success must include subjective measures like a patient’s quality of life and hope for the future, as well as the burden of the treatment on a patient’s life.
Additionally, we need to ensure increased opportunities for next generation clinical trial enrollment so more patients can receive innovative treatment options. At Gateway, we believe the journey to treat and cure cancer should require less struggle and more life.
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