Promising Research

Kidney cancer drug delays progression of disease

In June, Cleveland Clinic oncologist Brian Rini, MD, reported that cancer progression in patients with previously treated advanced renal cell carcinoma — the most prevalent form of kidney cancer — was delayed by an average of two months when treated with axitinib versus sorafenib.

This is the first trial to compare these targeted therapies against each other in kidney cancer patients who have relapsed or been unresponsive to their treatments. Dr. Rini, the principal investigator on the international trial, presented the findings at the 47th American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting in Chicago, an event that attracts more than 30,000 oncology professionals from around the world.

“Before this study, we had limited proven options for previously treated patients. Now, we can better understand how to build an effective sequence of treatments for patients with relapsed or refractory kidney cancer,” says Dr. Rini, a staff member of the Department of Solid Tumor Oncology and Associate Director for Clinical Research at the Cleveland Clinic Taussig Cancer Institute. “Two months may not seem like long, but this extra time has a meaningful impact on patients’ outlook and quality of life.”

Researchers are now conducting a front-line trial of axitinib and sorafenib in a head-to-head study in both previously treated and previously untreated patients with advanced kidney cancer. “We expect axitinib to be much more active as a first-line therapy since it has shown such good results as a second-line therapy,” says Dr. Rini, who is a paid consultant for Pfizer Oncology, makers of axitinib.

Another study led by Dr. Rini, which this summer began enrolling the first of 330 patients in the United States and Europe, is testing the safety and efficacy of a therapeutic vaccine.

According to the American Cancer Society, about 58,240 new cases of kidney cancer are diagnosed in the United States annually, and there are roughly 13,000 deaths from kidney cancer each year. Five-year survival rates for patients with advanced, stage IV kidney cancer are below 10 percent in this country.

Importance of Clinical Trials

Clinical research studies, which test new ways to prevent, detect, diagnose or treat cancer, help current patients by giving them access to innovative treatments, and they help future patients by advancing the understanding and treatment of major illnesses.

At Cleveland Clinic, focus areas for clinical trials include cancer of the breast, bladder, GI tract, kidney, lung, prostate and throat as well as leukemia, lymphoma, myeloma and urological cancer.

Last year, 247 clinical trials were conducted at Taussig Cancer Institute and its regional locations. The institute is engaged in research on every front – understanding what causes cancer to develop, how tumors grow and spread, cancer risk and prevention, and new, more effective treatments. Clinical trials provide a bridge between the laboratory and clinical practice to transition more rapidly from scientific discovery into patient care. With physicians like Dr. Rini, Taussig Cancer Institute has the expertise to build the best clinical research program in the country. Philanthropy will make that possible.

To make a gift supporting the Taussig Cancer Institute or any area of Cleveland Clinic, visit our secure giving site or call Institutional Relations and Development at 216.444.1245 or toll-free at 800.223.2273, ext. 41245.

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