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New investigational compound targets pancreatic cancer cells


World’s 1st patient treated at Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center at Scottsdale Healthcare

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - A new investigational drug designed to penetrate and attack pancreatic cancer cells has been administered to a patient for the first time at the TGen Clinical Research Services (TCRS) at Scottsdale Healthcare.

ASG-5ME is a potent, targeted compound designed to selectively kill cancer cells, said Dr. Daniel Von Hoff, a principal investigator in the Phase I clinical trial and Physician-In-Chief at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen).

More than 36,000 Americans are expected to die in 2010 from pancreatic cancer, making it the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the United States. Most patients with advanced pancreatic cancer die within one year of diagnosis.

“ASG-5ME is intended for pancreatic cancer patients who do not have a good prognosis with currently available therapies. We are very pleased to be able to offer this exciting agent in a clinical trial for patients with advanced pancreatic cancer,” said Dr. Von Hoff, Chief Scientific Officer at Scottsdale Healthcare. “Our goal is to deliver cell-killing medicine through the best possible individually targeted therapies, and ASG-5ME fits the bill.”

The new investigational compound uses a monoclonal antibody against a target found in more than 90 percent of pancreatic cancer patients. The monoclonal antibody delivers a highly potent molecule called monomethyl auristatin E (MMAE) to selectively kill the pancreatic cancer cells.

“It is a precision approach that is designed to avoid non-targeted cells, increasing antitumor activity in preclinical models and potentially reducing the toxic effects of traditional chemotherapy,” Dr. Von Hoff said.

The drug was co-developed by Seattle Genetics Inc. of Bothell, Wash., and by Agensys Inc., an affiliate of Tokyo-based Astellas Pharma Inc.

In Phase I clinical trials, researchers study a drug’s safety and identify maximum tolerated doses.

TCRS is located at the Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center at Scottsdale Healthcare, and is the world’s first site to offer patient access to ASG-5ME. Researchers hope to enroll up to 50 patients in clinical trials in multiple centers across the U.S.

The Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center at Scottsdale Healthcare opened in 2001 on the campus of Scottsdale Healthcare Shea Medical Center as the first major cancer center in greater Phoenix to offer comprehensive cancer research, diagnosis, treatment, prevention and support services in a single location. The Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons has awarded Accreditation with Commendation to the Scottsdale Healthcare cancer program.

Research at TCRS, a partnership of TGen and Scottsdale Healthcare, allows molecular and genomic discoveries to reach the patient bedside as quickly as possible through clinical trials of therapies directed at specific targets in a patient’s tumor.


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