Tag Archives: Daniel Von Hoff

clinical research advantage - vaccines

TGen, Scottsdale Healthcare study may help pancreatic cancer patients

A multi-center Phase III clinical trial demonstrates that Abraxane (nab-paclitaxel) plus gemcitabine is the first combination of cancer drugs to extend survival of late-stage pancreatic cancer patients compared to standard treatment.
The MPACT (Metastatic Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma Clinical Trial) study was led by physicians from Scottsdale Healthcare’s Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center Clinical Trials, a partnership between Scottsdale Healthcare and the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen).

Their findings show that Abraxane plus gemcitabine was well tolerated and resulted in clinically meaningful outcomes compared to gemcitabine alone, the current standard of care. The study abstract was released today and the data will be presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) 2013 Gastrointestinal Cancers annual meeting Jan. 25 in San Francisco.

“We are ecstatic that this clinical trial of Abraxane plus gemcitabine improves survival for patients with advanced stage IV pancreatic cancer,” said Dr. Daniel Von Hoff, international lead investigator for MPACT, chief scientific officer for Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center Clinical Trials at Scottsdale Healthcare, and TGen’s Physician-In-Chief. “It once again demonstrates that laboratory science based medicine can make a difference for patients.”

MPACT is the largest phase III clinical trial completed in advanced pancreatic cancer with more than 800 patients. Findings from the study showed a 59 percent increase in one-year median survival rates from less than a quarter of the patients (22 percent) to more than a third (35 percent). The two-year survival rate for this cancer is negligible, less than 4 percent, but that more than doubles (9 percent) with the nab-paclitaxel/gemcitabine combination.

One of those patients was Lynne Jacoby, 48, of Phoenix, who works as a director of compliance for a healthcare company. Jacoby was given only weeks to live when her Stage 4 pancreatic adenocarcinoma, a tumor the size of a golf ball, was first diagnosed in April 2012 — nine months ago.

“If you had to live your life in a year, and that is all the time you have, wouldn’t you do everything you could to experience this time,” said Jacoby, who for nearly a year before her diagnosis had experienced night sweats, indigestion, stomach pains, neck and back pain, and an elevated white-blood count.

She began the treatment of Abraxane plus gemcitabine in May 2012 and continues on the medications, saying now that she “feels awesome, wonderful.” She is scheduled to remain on the drug combination through May 2013.

“Life is priceless. No amount of money can be placed on life. I know I would be gone already if it was not for Dr. Von Hoff,” said Jacoby, who also refers to him as “Dr. Von Hope.”

The study showed significant improvement among some of the sickest patients including those with increased metastases. Significantly there was no increase in life-threatening toxicity. Other drug combinations that have demonstrated benefit have been limited by increased toxicities.

“This is a major improvement in a cancer with the lowest survival rates among all cancer types,” said Dr. Ramesh Ramanathan, medical director of Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center Clinical Trials at Scottsdale Healthcare and principal investigator for the clinical trial in the United States. “Advanced pancreatic cancer is fourth most common cause of cancer death in the United States and throughout the world. It is difficult to diagnose with a majority of the cases diagnosed at a late stage after the disease has already advanced.”

Abraxane wraps traditional chemotherapy, paclitaxel, in near-nano sized shells of albumin, a protein that the tumor sees as food. The tumor uses various mechanisms to preferentially attract the albumin, which then acts like a “Trojan Horse” to release its package of chemotherapy inside the tumor. It is approved in the U.S. for metastatic breast cancer and non-small cell lung cancer.

The pancreas is a gland behind the stomach that secretes enzymes into the upper part of the small intestine to help digestion. It also produces hormones, including insulin, which helps regulate the metabolism of sugars.

The incidence of pancreatic cancer is increasing worldwide with an estimated 279,000 cases per year, including nearly 44,000 in the U.S. in 2012, and resulting in more than 37,000 American deaths last year.

Individuals seeking information about eligibility to participate in clinical trials at the Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center at Scottsdale Healthcare may contact the cancer care coordinator at: 480-323-1339; toll free at 1-877-273-3713; or via email at clinicaltrials@shc.org.

molecular

Phoenix Children’s Hospital, TGen create Molecular Medicine Institute

Phoenix Children’s Hospital announced the creation of the Ronald A. Matricaria Institute of Molecular Medicine Tuesday, in a joint venture with The Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) and The University of Arizona’s College of Medicine.

The three organizations are joining forces with the hopes of unlocking genetic codes in child, adolescent and young adult cancer patients and develop drug therapies in real time to improve the outcome and treatment in these young demographics.

“Our goal is to bring genomics to the forefront of pediatrics,” said Robert L. Meyer, Phoenix Children’s president and CEO. “Research and development of novel treatments for pediatric diseases has fallen short over past decades.”

The reason why the Ronald A. Matricaria Institute of Molecular Medicine is focusing on young patients is because there have been hardly any new therapies introduced to this population in the past two decades. The new institute hopes that clinical studies on children will lead to a better understanding of specific differences between children and adults, which will hopefully lead to the development of safer, more effective and more age-appropriate drug treatments that can be provided in a faster amount of time.

“A challenge with existing molecular medicine programs is the amount of time it takes to develop a new drug or treatment,” Meyer said. “Our collaboration with TGen and University of Arizona opens the doors to making a portfolio of drugs and compounds available immediately.”

The institute will also focus their clinical studies based on underlying genetic and molecular functions of different pediatric cancers, rather than specifically on tumor type. Furthermore, physicians will then create various treatment plans specifically for each patient treated based on the drug therapy that will attack and correct the malfunctioning genes.

With the start of the new institute, a special team of physician scientists will be brought on board to help start out the genomic profiling: Dr. Timothy Triche, a pediatric pathologist and former director of the Center for Personalized Medicine at Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles; Dr. Robert Arceci, a pediatric oncologist from Johns Hopkins University; and Dr. Daniel D. Von Hoff, a medical oncologist at TGen.

“We are trying to figure out a way to have children get appropriate drugs,” said Dr. Robert Arceci. “We all want to know what causes diseases and how we can treat them and I think it takes a special team of people to do this and it takes a lot of unselfish commitment.”

A founding member from whom the institute gets its name, Ronald A. Matricaria, a member of the board of directors for the Phoenix Children’s Hospital, is excited and hopeful for what the new institute is capable of doing in the world of pediatric care.

“Based on my knowledge of the institute and many years of working in the medical field, I’m confident that we can chart a new course for addressing the unique needs of children with cancer and other life-threatening diseases,” Matricaria said. “We could have a huge impact on children’s live and what could be better than that.

 

medical.research

TGen Launches Website Focused on Rare Adrenal Cancer

A new website officially launched by the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) provides patients and their families with 24-7 access to essential and comprehensive information on Adrenocortical Carcinoma (ACC), a rare and deadly form of cancer.

Named in memory or Kirsten Sandstrom, Kirsten’s Legacy is TGen’s research and clinical program for defeating ACC. The site includes facts about ACC, links to valuable patient resources and the latest updates on progress being made by TGen researchers and clinicians studying ACC.

To all those who knew her, Kirsten was an extraordinarily caring and loving woman. As a wife, mother, daughter and friend, Kirsten displayed a level of grace and selflessness that lifted the hearts of her family and lent them strength as she endured a 21-month struggle with ACC that claimed her life in March of 2010.

As part of a $1.5 million gift to TGen in support of ACC research, Kirsten’s parents Gary and Barbara Pasquinelli of Yuma, Arizona, worked with their son-in-law Ed Sandstrom and TGen to establish Kirsten’s Legacy. The Pasquinelli’s made their donation as a challenge gift to help encourage others to support ACC research.
“We had trouble finding information on ACC, so we established the Kirsten’s Legacy website to provide timely information for patients, their families and friends as TGen pursues better treatments and moves toward a cure for this terrible disease,” said Gary Pasquinelli. “The website enables those dealing with ACC to know immediately that they are not alone — that there is hope— a place where you can get substantial information about ACC without having to go through what we went through.”

Prior to the Pasquinelli gift and the launch of the Kirsten’s Legacy website, ACC survivor Troy Richards established TGen’s ACC program and actively raised dollars for research through his Advancing Treatment for Adrenal Cancer (ATAC) fund.
In May 2005, Richards met with TGen Drs. Daniel Von Hoff and Michael Demeure to discuss establishing TGen’s ACC Research Program. Richards also developed a website and co-founded what is now the largest ACC support group on the Web. He continues to raise funds and be an advocate by helping patients worldwide to receive the best possible care.

After learning of the Pasquinelli gift, Richards and the Pasquinelli family chose to merge their efforts and today pursue a cure for ACC through the Kirsten’s Legacy program.
“The goal of the website, the entire program for that matter, is to educate others about ACC and support TGen scientists and clinicians,’’ said Troy Richards. “Our hope is that Kirsten’s Legacy continues the work we’ve started and paves the way to improved treatments and understanding of ACC, and ultimately, leads to a cure.”
ACC is rare: less than 2 individuals in 1 million are susceptible. When the numbers are that low, few federal or philanthropic dollars flow toward studying the causes or finding a cure. That means fewer advances in diagnoses or therapeutic treatments. Also known as cancer of the adrenal cortex or ACC, TGen scientists and clinicians conduct their work with a sense of extreme urgency, knowing the fight against ACC lingers and few institutions are working to defeat this deadly cancer.

“The Kirsten’s Legacy website will enable TGen to create a community of ACC patients and advocates around the world and to share our research progress and resources,” said TGen Foundation President Michael Bassoff. “The support of Troy Richards, the Pasquinelli’s and Ed Sandstrom, serves to remind us of the power and importance of collaboration, enabling TGen’s mission against ACC.”

TGen Drs. Kimberly Bussey and Michael Demeure lead a team of scientists and clinicians who, for the first time, have completed the first whole genome sequencing of ACC tumors. This offers new insight into the possible causes of this extremely rare and aggressive form of cancer by identifying all 3 billion chemical DNA bases of ACC tumors. Researchers compare the cancer DNA to a patient’s normal DNA to discover what’s different; what mutations might cause the disease.

The ACC research team at TGen is eager to work with all investigators on efforts to improve treatments for affected patients.

Visit Kirsten’s Legacy at: kirstenslegacy.org.

medical.research

Golf tournament benefits TGen pancreatic cancer research

Nearly 450 participants, including 288 golfers, are expected Dec. 7-8 at the 10th anniversary Seena Magowitz Golf Classic, benefiting pancreatic cancer research at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen).

The weekend charity tournament at the world-famous Arizona Biltmore Resort and Spa is sponsored by the Seena Magowitz Foundation, which helps fund TGen’s global effort to eradicate pancreatic cancer, the nation’s fourth leading cause of cancer death.

The Golf Classic, which this year is expected to raise more than $500,000, also will feature celebrity emcees and two leading scientists in the field of cancer research.

“If we continue working together in a hard-fought campaign to curb this brutal disease, I’m confident that our efforts will make a life-changing difference,” said Leggett & Platt COO Karl Glassman, this year’s tournament Honorary Chairman, who lost his mother to breast cancer and a good friend to pancreatic cancer.

Following the golf tournament on Dec. 8, Derrick Hall, President and CEO of the Arizona Diamondbacks, will co-emcee an awards luncheon with journalist and television personality Tara Hitchcock.

The luncheon’s featured speakers are: Keynote Speaker Dr. Daniel Von Hoff, TGen’s Physician-In-Chief and one of the world’s leading authorities on pancreatic cancer; and Dr. Victor Velculescu, a Professor of Oncology at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions.

The weekend event kicks off from 6-11 p.m. Dec. 7 with a special Monte Carlo casino welcome, including live jazz from renowned trumpeter Jessie McGuire.

The golf tournament begins at 7 a.m. Dec. 8 with breakfast and registration, followed at 8:25 a.m. by McGuire’s special rendition of the National Anthem, which will begin the tournament’s shotgun start.

The luncheon — with special guests, a live auction and raffle — starts at 1 p.m.

The event caps off with an 8 p.m. Anniversary Music Concert, staring: pop artist Alyssa Bonagura, who just released a new album, Love Hard; Ira Dean, former member of the band Trick Pony; and Brooke Burrows.

“A decade ago, I don’t think any of us could have foreseen the tremendous progress that has been made by TGen to help conquer this disease,” said Roger Magowitz, President of the Magowitz Foundation, which he founded in honor of his mother, Seena, who died of pancreatic cancer in 2001. “The advent of TGen’s whole genome sequencing and the ability to search out each patient’s genetic vulnerability is a phenomenal biomedical advance.”

TGen’s use of whole genome sequencing in analyzing three pancreatic cancer patients was recently documented in a scientific study, funded in part by the Magowitz Foundation, and published in October by the Public Library of Science.

In addition, the Magowitz Foundation helped support a study that concluded in November that a new cancer drug combination demonstrated significant improvement in overall survival of late-stage pancreatic cancer patients, according to a clinical trial led by Scottsdale Healthcare’s Virginia G. Cancer Center Clinical Trials, a partnership with TGen.

“TGen’s groundbreaking pancreatic cancer research receives a tremendous boost from the Seena Magowitz Foundation’s annual December events,” said Michael Bassoff, President of the non-profit TGen Foundation. “Industry leaders like Leggett & Platt and Mattress Firm are making a difference in the lives of pancreatic cancer patients today.”

Pancreatic cancer annually takes the lives of more than 37,000 Americans. A staggering 74 percent of those diagnosed die within the first year, and only 6 percent survive more than five years.

Major tournament sponsors include: Leggett & Platt, Mattress Firm, Sealy, Mattress Discounters, Sleep Inc., Serta, Comfort Revolution, Ellman Family Vineyards, General Wholesale Beer Company, Morley Company, Simmons, Raymond James, Customatic, and the Arizona Diamondbacks.

A golf foursome, including the welcome and luncheon, is $1,750. Individual golfers are $450. For those who don’t play golf, and still want to participate, the welcome is $100 per person, while the luncheon is $150 per person.

Corporate sponsorships are available, ranging from $500 to $100,000. Sponsors may contact: Roger Magowitz at 602-524-7636 or roger@seenamagowitzfoundation.org; Liz McBeth, Tournament Director, at 757-773-7622 or liz@seenamagowitzfoundation.org; or Alison Bassoff, Vice President of Development, 602-361-7006 or Allison@seenamagowitzfoundation.org.