Clinical trials underway at the University of New Mexico Comprehensive Cancer Center could offer a new tool for fighting a deadly form of brain cancer too often immune to conventional treatments, such as radiation therapy, researchers said.
The first drug trials with people have shown promise in attacking glioblastomas, or solid brain tumors — the type of brain cancer that Sen. John McCain is battling and that took the life of his former Senate colleague Edward Kennedy in 2009.
In fact, McCain’s fight with brain cancer could bring the Arizona Republican to UNM for treatment if conventional treatments fail to effectively fight the disease, Dr. Cheryl Willman, CEO of the UNM Comprehensive Cancer Center, told an Albuquerque business group Wednesday.
The UNM Cancer Center is participating in Phase 1 clinical trials for a cancer-fighting drug manufactured by Bexion Pharmaceuticals, a privately held biotech company focused on the development and commercialization of innovative cures for cancer. Phase 1 trials are used for therapies that have never before been tried on human subjects.
“The patients treated at UNM Cancer Center are among the first in the world to be given this drug,” said Dr. Olivier Rixe, who oversaw the clinical trials’ national protocol development, and directed the trial in New Mexico and at other sites in the U.S. He is a professor of hematology/oncology and associate director for clinical research at UNM Comprehensive Cancer Center.