Daily News: Disease

Providence Cancer Center researchers score promising results with experimental cancer treatment

Oregonian (Portland, OR)

11-29-13

Nov. 27--Local researchers have reported promising results in one of the hottest fields of cancer research today.

In a trial using human patients, Providence Cancer Center researchers reported using an antibody called OX40 to activate the immune system against a variety of invading cancers: melanoma, kidney, pancreatic and colon cancers.

The antibody revs up the immune system's T-cells go after tumor cells. And after one cycle of treatment, tumors in 12 of 30 patients were significantly reduced, while the number of cancer-fighting immune cells increased. The side effects reported were considered minimal to moderate: fatigue, fever and rashes.

The results, reported in the journal Cancer Research, are very preliminary, and the drug has a ways to go before it can prove itself safe and effective under Food and Drug Administration standards.

Still, the roundly positive early results are a coup for the home-grown drug, featured in a 2006 article by Oregonian reporter Andy Dworkin. It's an underdog story. Without major pharmaceutical industry funding, more than 250 donors chipped in to back OX40.The study was led by oncologist Brendan Curti of the Earle A. Chiles Research Institute at Providence Cancer Center, following on work his colleague Andy Weinberg began more than 15 years ago.

Many years of testing are yet to be done. Providence Cancer Center hopes to start the next round of clinical trials next year.

Stay tuned: we'll have more on this study and the researchers behind it next week.

--Nick Budnick

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