Clinical Trials: Benefiting Patients Today and in the Future
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Published on March 11, 2019

lab tech piping samples for testing

Clinical Trials: Benefiting Patients Today and in the Future

New trials available with Avera Cancer Institute’s robust research program focus on two key areas of cancer treatment: genomic profiling to target therapy to a patient’s specific cancer mutations and immunotherapy to boost the patient’s immune system to fight the cancer cells.

The NSABP B-59 study is trialing an immunotherapy drug that research has shown to work well with cancers that have a high number of mutations, which typically occurs in triple-negative breast cancer, said Jason Jones, MD, one of two dedicated breast oncologists at Avera Cancer Institute.

The B-59 clinical trial combines immunotherapy and chemotherapy infusions in an effort to improve response to treatment and eliminate the tumor before surgery, which decreases the chance of recurrence, Jones said.

“Clinical trials, including the B-59, are a great opportunity to improve outcomes,” Jones said. “The hope for immunotherapy is it will work better long term with few side effects.”

Other Projects Underway

SPRING Clinical Trial through the Worldwide Innovative Networking (WIN) Consortium, meant to provide better treatments for metastatic non-small cell lung cancer by using a three-drug protocol, involving immunotherapy and targeted therapies.

Phase 1 Trials at Avera Cancer Institute Center for Precision Oncology to pinpoint the optimal multiple-drug protocols for various solid tumors, including breast and ovarian.

Questions and Answers with Dr. Jones

Jason Jones, MD, Breast Oncologist with Avera Cancer Institute, offers these insights on some common cancer-care questions.

What is immunotherapy?

Some cancers have developed mechanisms that allow cancer to bypass the immune system. New drugs interfere with this bypass and allow the cancer cells to be attacked by the immune system.

How do different treatment options to work together?

Cancer is like a dandelion. If you leave part of the plant or root, it will grow back. Surgery is like pulling the weed. Radiation is like spraying weed killer for local control. Immunotherapy or chemotherapy is like the weed preventer to help protect the whole yard, in case the seeds have spread. We are preventing cancer from spreading by administering chemotherapy or immunotherapy.

How is Avera’s research program different?

Our research program is robust and includes diverse clinical trials from Phase 1, to test safety and dosages, to Phase 3, to determine if it should
be standard of care. Patients here have access to opportunities that otherwise would not be available.

We have a dedicated team helping us to bring the most cutting-edge treatments to South Dakota.

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