Patients with virtually any type of cancer have the opportunity to participate in one of nearly 250 research studies conducted by oncologists from the Wake Forest Baptist Comprehensive Cancer Center or by one of the other leading cancer researchers around the country with whom we collaborate.
Most of the studies combine conventional treatments such as surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy, with novel molecular therapeutic approaches.
Our Cancer Center also utilizes integrative approaches with complementary and alternative medicines, including vitamin and nutritional therapies, in both cancer treatment and symptom management research. We firmly believe that “research cures cancer” and so do the 1,000 or more of our patients per year who enroll in one or more of our innovative clinical trials. These trials originate from the Cancer Center or one of the national Cooperative Groups of which we are a member:
- American College of Surgeons Oncology Group (ACOSOG)
- Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology (Alliance)
- Children’s Oncology Group (COG)
- Adult Brain Tumor Consortium (ABTC)
- NRG Oncology
In addition, WFBCCC is a National Cancer Institute (NCI) funded Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP) Research Base, the only NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center Research Base. As such, it provides a conduit for community physicians to participate in NCI-supported trials, giving their patients enhanced access to high-quality research studies in their own communities. Currently, about 30 community sites located across the United States participate in cancer treatment and symptom management studies.
These studies address important issues such as:
- Treatment-related fatigue
- Weight loss
- Hot flashes
- Cognitive function
- Nutrition in cancers of the brain, breast, cervix, head and neck, lung, ovary and prostate
- Soft tissue sarcomas
- Metastatic disease
The major goal of the Clinical Research Program (CRP) of the WFBCCC is to serve as a hypothesis-driven incubator and catalyst for the clinical translation of novel therapeutic, diagnostic, and supportive care strategies.
This goal is achieved by:
- Translating advances in the understanding of cancer from the WFBCCC’s basic sciences and population science Programs into novel therapeutic strategies with correlative biomarkers of response.
- Promoting the development and conduct of innovative clinical trials for rare or difficult to treat cancers and sites of metastasis.
- Enhancing understanding in cancer-related symptom science, including leveraging the Wake Forest National Cancer Institute Community Oncology Program Research Base.
CRP research is comprised of two themes within these aims: experimental therapeutics and addressing health disparities, with particular focus on cancers of high incidence in the WFBCCC catchment area.
The Clinical Research Program of the WFBCCC has 3 Specific Aims:
The CRP continues to expand its translational therapeutic developments, reflecting the collective expertise within the CRP and collaborations between the basic science Programs (Cancer Biology and Biochemistry; Tumor Progression and Recurrence) and the population science Program (Cancer Prevention and Control). Examples include basic and clinical science studies of a novel agent targeting cancer-specific changes in mitochondrial metabolism within hematologic malignancies and solid tumors; erlotinib and smoking in patients with lung, head and neck, and esophageal cancers; an innate defense regulator for the treatment of oral mucositis; amplitude-modulated radiofrequency electromagnetic fields for patients with liver cancer; and high-frequency irreversible electroporation as a local modality in the management of patients with pancreatic cancer.
The CRP takes advantage of the unique capabilities of WFBCCC investigators and resources to promote the efforts and conduct of innovative clinical trials for advanced and rare or difficult-to-treat cancers. Research supporting this aim includes scientific advances in treating cancer in the elderly; peritoneal cancers (cytoreductive surgery plus hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy); gliomas (PCV chemotherapy, electric field therapy); brain metastases (microarray signatures and presence of driver mutations); and cancer that has metastasized or is not responding to treatment (precision medicine).
The CRP has benefited from integration with the WF NCORP RB, which provides an avenue of translation for CRP investigators to pursue research questions in well-designed phase II and III community-based trials. Examples include studies of donepezil in treating cognitive dysfunction in breast and brain cancer survivors; studies of genomic changes and cutaneous toxicity after radiation therapy for breast cancer; and interventions guided by MR imaging to reduce the late effects of cancer therapy in breast cancer patients.