Kidney Cancer Clinical Trials
Reaching for new ways to cure kidney cancer
While surgical treatments for localized kidney cancer are quite successful, patients who are not surgical candidates and those with metastasized disease must turn to other options. As a cancer research center, Roswell Park Cancer Institute affords patients the clinical experience of a high-volume facility, access to the newest drugs and opportunities to be among the first to benefit from cutting-edge treatments and new protocols.
High-volume immunotherapy experience
Treatment with immunologic agents, like high-dose Interleukin-2 stimulates the body’s immune system to change the way it responds to cancer cells. Interleuken-2 (IL-2) in particular is a potent anti-cancer weapon. “It helps about 20 percent of selected patients,” explains Dr. Pili. “About 5 percent to 7 percent achieve a complete response. The tumor disappears and the patient remains in remission for a long time. However, IL-2 is highly toxic and patients must be in very good clinical conditions.”
The IL-2 clinic established by Dr. Michael Wong at RPCI is one of the busiest in the nation, serving patients from several countries including Canada. The clinical staff has developed a high level of expertise in selecting the patients and delivering the immunotherapy safely. Patients are carefully screened for cardiopulmonary, kidney and liver functions plus response-related characteristics.
Trials of new drug combinations
Several research protocols are underway at RPCI that study how to improve the effectiveness of existing FDA-approved drugs used in the treatment of kidney cancer. “At Roswell Park we have an active program in our laboratories to develop new therapies for the treatment of advanced kidney cancer” says Dr. Pili
- Combining high-dose Interleukin-2 with entinostat (an HDAC inhibitor). After positive results in animal studies, this National Cancer Institute-sponsored trial adds entinostat, which modulates immune response, to IL-2 in the hope of boosting the 15 percent to 20 percent response rate seen with IL-2 alone.
- Adding an anticoagulant to Sunitinib. This study looks at the effect of combining sunitinib, an FDA-approved drug for kidney cancer which inhibits the formation of new blood vessels to the tumor and the anticoagulant heparin. Coagulation is part of the mechanism for forming new blood vessels and metastases, and Dr. Pili hopes the combination improves the success of these drugs.
- Combining an HDAC and an mTOR inhibitor. Based on very promising results in mice this combination is also aimed to reduce the blood flow and to inhibit tumor growth in patients who have been already treated with sunitinib.