Cancer Therapies

Cancer therapies are complex in that the disease that they are designed to treat is often life-threatening and in some cases these drugs can prolong survival or even improve the chance for cure. Many of the therapies, however, also have substantial side effects and clearly not everyone gains benefit. Thus patients are left with difficult decisions as they make choices about the best therapy for themselves. More recently, it has become apparent that personalized medicine (finding the best drug for each patient) is a critical step forward in improving the effectiveness and reducing the toxicity in the care of cancer patients. While several major advances in personalized medicine have been made recently, Indiana University plans to stay on the cutting edge with its involvement in the Indiana Institute for Personalized Medicine.

Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center fully supports research aimed at personalizing medicine. Since the foundations of personalized medicine are built on the premise that laboratory tests can accurately predict the response of individual patient to a particular treatment, investigators at the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center include correlative science when designing a clinical trial. Correlative science is a term used to show the relationship between molecular biology (i.e. biomarkers such as genes, proteins, etc) and clinical outcomes (i.e. disease progression). Research is conducted using tissue and/or biospecimens from human patients. The hope is that with correlative science and new technologies, combined with increased biological knowledge, it may be possible to predict which patients are most likely to benefit or suffer severe side effects from a new treatment.

Examples of core facilities that are used in the design of correlative science in a clinical trial are:

Immunohistochemistry (Sandusky): The Immunohistochemistry core provides high-quality immunostaining on cell lines, animal models, and human tissue for translational science biomedical research in the Indiana University School of Medicine and adjoining universities in the state.

Clinical Pharmacology Analytical Core (Jones): Pharmacokinetic and metabolism data provide important information to guide drug design and treatment. Using state-of-the art technology, CPAC supports the development of safe and more efficacious drug treatment for IUSCC investigatorspharmacokinetic testing. CPAC has contributed to the development of IUSCC-investigator initiated research to advance the lead in precision prescribing, which refers to the process of matching patients to drugs that will trigger the best response based on an individual's genetic makeup.

Therapeutic Validation Core (Pollok): The Therapeutic Validation core (TVC) assists clinical investigators to develop and perform correlative biological assays needed to validate mechanism(s) of action of candidate drugs/therapies and to develop and test new hypotheses. The TVC also provides technical and intellectual support in the development, implementation, and validation of predictive and pharmacodynamic biomarkers for novel, molecularly-targeted anticancer agents.

Some of the investigators at the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center have made personalized medicine a priority for their translational and clinical research. Their work can be found by following the links below:
Bryan Schneider, MD/ Associate Director of the IIPM