Only offered locally at UC, these trials will study bioengineered antibodies being used to stimulate the immune system to attack cancerous cells for a more direct and effective approach to treating cancer.
“These trials are Phase I trials, meaning they are the first step in testing therapies in humans; they are trials intended to evaluate safe dosages, the best methods of administration of a therapy and frequency of administration,” says John Morris, MD, professor of medicine at the UC College of Medicine, UC Health oncologist and principal investigator on these trials. Morris also leads the UC Phase I Experimental Therapeutics Program, which is the only program of its kind locally. “Phase I trials typically include less than 30 people and are administered in a closely-monitored setting where patients can be observed and followed,” he adds.
Research like this is an example of the university’s innovation agenda, one of the key platforms of Next Lives Here, UC’s strategic direction.
For the first trial, looking at therapies for lung cancer, researchers are studying a bioengineered antibody with two parts—one of which binds to programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1), an immune-suppressing protein produced by cancer cells which affects anti-cancer activity of T cells, and the other part binding to and blocking transforming growth factor-beta 1 (TGF-β1), a protein that stimulates cancer cell growth and decreases the body’s immune responses, in an effort to ramp up immunity and fight off cancerous cells.