Tag Archives: drug development

Imagining What’s Possible for Patients

18 Mar

Dr. Susan Desmond-Hellmann explains her translational vision for
fighting cancer during her recent keynote address to UCSF’s breast oncology leaders. She describes 1997 to 2001 as oncology’s golden years. Rituxan, Herceptin and Gleevec debuted and changed the face of cancer treatments. Dr. Desmond-Hellmann believes that academia can today play a critical role in introducing “the platinum age” of cancer drug development.

“Cancer research is too slow, too expensive, too inefficient and too uncertain…we need to understand earlier and with greater confidence what the best ideas are,” she says. Read the full article here.

I-Spy Trial Offers Key Insights Into Locally Advanced Breast Cancer

30 May

Dr. Laura Esserman, director of UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Breast Care Center is spearheading the development of a clinical trials model designed to accelerate and improve the efficiency with which experimental breast cancer therapies are assessed.  The strategy, which involves the use of molecular markers and MRI, utilizes “adaptive design,” in which drugs are assessed over the course of months – rather than decades – and the information used in real time to direct the course of a trial.

The series of studies are known as I-SPY (investigation of serial studies to predict therapeutic response with imaging and molecular analysis) and are being carried out  in patients with locally advanced i.e., aggressive – breast cancer. The goals of I-SPY  are to establish a clinical trials model that supports the identification of drugs targeting the molecular profiles of aggressive cancers, and to reduce the duration of the drug-assessment process from the current 15 to 20 years down to a few years.

Dr. Esserman’s team presents several findings at ASCO today.  One provocative finding shows that large, locally advanced forms of breast cancer often emerge between regular mammogram exams. These “interval” cancers present an important opportunity for doctors and patients to take advantage of neoadjuvant therapies in advance of surgery, with the hope they would be responsive. The other finding is that using molecular markers, UCSF researchers identified a subset of patients who do well regardless of how they respond to neoadjuvant treatment. They also identified a subset  with poor prognosis for whom response to neoadjuvant therapy is a good predictor of long term outcome.

Read the press release:
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How Translational Research Will Make a Difference for Women With Breast Cancer

31 Jan

“From Bench to Bedside to Market — Envisioning How Translational Research Will Make a Difference for Women With Breast Cancer” — UCSF’s 2009 Breast Oncology Program Scientific Retreat — was held this week. The focus was on experimental therapeutics, molecular markers, clinical trials and early detection. Among the topics discussed was “How siRNA will Change Cancer Therapy.” Here are a few take-aways:

  • Many mutant proteins are not druggable. Cancer can adapt to tolerate targeted therapies.
  • Current process of developing cancer drugs is not working.
  • UCSF is developing a new paradigm of drug development through its pioneering siRNA research.
  • Ultimately these siRNA discoveries will help eliminate the pharma industry R&D “valley of death.”

To learn more, visit  UCSF’s Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center site.