Clinical trials are scientific studies that assess how well new treatments (that have already been studied in the laboratory) work in real-life situations. Clinical trials are the way cancer researchers examine how effective a new agent, a new combination of drugs, or new therapy is in a particular patient group, whether it works better than current standard treatments, or causes fewer, less toxic side effects.
The need for new treatments for metastatic breast cancer remains urgent. Current therapies may extend survival in some patients, but eventually, they stop working and the cancer progresses.
Roswell Park’s robust research program includes many ongoing trials for patients with metastatic breast cancer. More than a dozen trials are open and enrolling participants. These trials involve various methods and approaches, including:
- Novel chemotherapy agents, such as new anti-cancer drugs that interrupt the growth of rapidly-dividing cancer cells, including some that may be taken orally, rather than through an IV infusion.
- Novel targeted agents, are potential new drugs designed to hone in on the cancer cells (leaving other body cells alone) by targeting specific mutations within cancer cells, or by finding and attaching to specific proteins or receptors found only in the cancer cells.
- Immunotherapies, which aim to stimulate the body’s immune cells (such as T-cells) to recognize cancer cells as invaders and attack them. Immunotherapies have been less effective against breast cancer in part because the T-cells cannot get into the breast cancer cells. Roswell Park has clinical trials of several approaches to overcome this problem. These include new immunotherapy drugs, new combinations of drugs, injecting immunotherapy drugs directly into the tumor and cellular therapies that re-engineer the T-cells to improve their effectiveness.