Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey Investigators Present Research at National Conference

From precision medicine to immunotherapy to population research and more, investigators from Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey presented their findings on the latest developments in cancer research at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting in Chicago.
 

Howard L. Kaufman, MD, FACS
Kaufman

 Lorna Rodriguez, MD, PhD
Rodriguez
Shridar Ganesan, MD, PhD
Ganesan
Kim M. Hirshfeld, MD
Hirshfield
Grace Lu-Yao, PhD, MPH
Lu-Yao


Studies include a global study led by Howard L. Kaufman, MD, FACS, associate director for clinical science at the Cancer Institute of New Jersey, which shows advanced-stage melanoma patients have significant improvement in durable response rate and a trend toward improved survival when treated with a genetically-modified form of a herpes virus, whose native form causes the common cold sore. Dr. Kaufman and colleagues conducted the first ever randomized, prospective Phase III clinical trial of an oncolytic virus in patients with cancer and previously reported that the investigational drug, called talimogene laherparepvec, reduced the size of melanoma tumors injected with the treatment as well as tumors that spread to other parts of the body that were not injected.

As part of a precision medicine study at the Cancer Institute, investigators found that utilizing next-generation sequencing as part of an arsenal of tools to determine tumor diagnosis complements and aids in the pathological diagnosis of rare rumors. Lorna Rodriguez, MD, PhD, head of the precision medicine team, along with Associate Director for Translational Science Shridar Ganesan, MD, PhD and medical oncologist Kim M. Hirshfield, MD, report that next-generation sequencing complements expert analysis from physicians, geneticists, systems biologists, pathologists and others in identifying genomic abnormalities in rare and poor prognosis tumors.  These changes can then be targeted with certain therapies, thus providing benefit for the patient.

And in what is believed to be the largest U.S. population-based long-term study on screen-detected prostate cancer treated conservatively shows that the 15-year survival outcome has improved significantly for those patients diagnosed in the era of the prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test. Cancer Institute researcher Grace Lu-Yao, PhD, MPH, and colleagues examined national data from more than 12,000 men aged 65 and older who had screen-detected localized prostate cancer and did not receive any surgery, radiotherapy or androgen deprivation therapy within six months of being diagnosed.  The 15-year risk of prostate cancer-specific mortality for men aged 66 to 74 with early-stage disease and a Gleason score of between 5 and 7 was about 6 percent as compared to 17 to 23 percent of men diagnosed during a time when the PSA test was not widely used as a screening tool.  Similarly, substantial improvement also was seen in patients with higher Gleason scores.