Ongoing Research at Rowell Park

Dr. Wen Wee Ma explains how phase 1 clinical trials lead to better treatment options for advanced gastrointestinal cancers.

Through clinical research studies, we offer patients access to some of the latest therapies, drugs and cutting-edge strategies. Some areas of current research involving esophageal and other gastrointestinal cancers include:

  • Vitamin D: Evaluating the role of vitamin D in combination with chemotherapy drugs gemcitabine and/or cisplatin.
  • Novel targeted agents: Assessing potential new drugs that target different factors, such as growth factors, of the cancer cell.
  • New treatment combinations: Evaluating new therapy schedule for using Pralatrexate with Oxaliplatin. Assessing use of a drug that prevents the tumor from growing new blood vessels in combination with gemcitabine chemotherapy.
  • Cancer vaccines: Landmark trial of a vaccine that teaches the immune system to recognize, fight and remember cancer cells as foreign invaders is currently underway.
  • Cancer genetics: Studying the genetics of a cell to determine signs that would predict whether Barrett’s esophagus will progress to esophageal cancer.
  • Quality of life: Using anti-inflammatory drugs to improve tolerability of treatments.

Clinical Trials

In the past decade, Roswell Park offered 94 clinical trials for gastrointestinal cancer patients. Dr. Iyer stresses the importance of choosing a high-volume cancer center.

Any new treatment undergoes years, even decades, of study. Clinical studies, which involve people, encompass the final phases of cancer treatment research. Participating in a clinical study may be an important treatment option for many patients, who may be among the first to benefit from a new drug or therapy. About 50 percent of our patients are eligible for a clinical study. Whether or not you choose to participate is entirely your choice. Learn more about studies involving esophageal cancer.

On the Horizon: Personalized Therapy

Roswell Park is a leader in developing treatment programs that are individualized to each patient depending on the patient and tumor characteristics. Our Center for Personalized Medicine facilitates interaction with our clinical team to provide this state-of-the-art treatment planning.

We offer genetic testing, molecular profiling, tumor banking and other testing that contribute to the exploration of novel treatment options for this aggressive cancer. Although this is still in the research phase for esophageal cancer, there is progress every day.