Every year, the Conquer Cancer Foundation of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) funds research grants that provide critical start-up funding for young physician-scientists, with the goal of enabling them to develop a successful career in cancer research so that they can bring new treatments into the clinic and improve the lives of patients with cancer. Clearly, the programs are working: three studies featured in the recently released “Clinical Cancer Advances 2012: Annual Report on Progress Against Cancer From the American Society of Clinical Oncology,” which identifies the top advances of the year in clinical cancer research, were funded in part by Conquer Cancer Foundation of ASCO Career Development Awards (CDAs). The three researchers are also past recipients of the Foundation’s Young Investigator Award (YIA).
Identified as a major advance in the report, a study led by Arti Hurria, MD, (2002 YIA, 2005 CDA) reveals factors that predict risk for chemotherapy side effects in older adults. Older patients with cancer are generally more vulnerable to harmful side effects of chemotherapy, but it is difficult to determine which elderly patients are at higher risk. This study proposes a predictive model to address this concern and provides a sorely needed tool to inform chemotherapy decision making for elderly patients with any type and stage of cancer.
A study led by Paul Paik, MD, (2011 YIA, 2012 CDA) identifies new therapeutic targets for squamous cell lung cancer through molecular testing of tumor samples. Squamous cell carcinoma accounts for approximately 40% of lung cancer cases, and the development of new drugs for this cancer has been slow because few “druggable” targets have been discovered, until now.
A phase II trial led by Mark Dickson, MD, (2009 YIA, 2011 CDA) shows that the targeted drug PD0332991 (PD), a CDK4 inhibitor, has promising effects in a subset of patients with liposarcoma, which is the most common soft tissue sarcoma in adults. After 12 weeks of treatment with PD, 70% of patients on the trial had no disease progression. This is the first positive trial of a CDK4 inhibitor in sarcoma.
For nearly 30 years the CDA and YIA programs have been supporting the training of cancer researchers. Multiple other grantees led key studies in their fields that were spotlighted in the report as being important advances in 2012. These include Jose Baselga (1992 YIA, 1994 CDA; breast cancer), Alan Ho (2012 CDA; thyroid cancer), Pasi Janne (2001 YIA; lung cancer), and Yael Mosse (2003 YIA, 2004 CDA; pediatric cancers). The Foundation’s support of these oncologists as young investigators enabled them to launch successful careers working to create a world free from the fear of cancer.
To learn more about the studies led by Foundation-funded researchers and other top advances of 2012, an illustrated and interactive version of the report can be viewed at www.cancerprogress.net/cca and the original scientific report can be read in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. To support the research of young scientists like these, visit www.conquercancerfoundation.org/donate. More information about the Career Development Award and Young Investigator Award can be found at http://www.conquercancerfoundation.org/cancer-professionals.