publication date: Jan. 27, 2017

How a “cool” trial in rare cancers was born

By Paul Goldberg

About a year ago, Sandip Patel, a young doctor who had just joined the faculty at University of California San Diego Moores Cancer Center, stopped by to see his mentor, Razelle Kurzrock, chair of the SWOG Early Therapeutics and Rare Cancers Committee.

The two physicians discussed how frustrating it was to see patients with rare cancers in clinic and have so little to offer them. Rare cancers often have no approved treatment options and clinical trials are few.

A national immunotherapy trial could benefit these patients, the two doctors agreed.

“These are the kind of patients that don’t necessarily have a home on a conventional disease team,” recalled Patel, assistant professor of medicine and assistant director of the clinical trials office at Moores. Phase I studies are often the only option. Alas, with rare cancers, one often faces the prospect of ending up with studies that accrue just one patient of a given rare histology, and it is difficult to draw meaningful scientific conclusions.

“Rare tumors are often characterized by unique biology, much of which remains unknown due to a historical lack of scale to study these diseases effectively,” said Patel, 34. “Wouldn’t it be nice to have a phase II trial, and … Continue reading How a “cool” trial in rare cancers was born

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