Phase 1 Trials & Clinical Investigations Research Program
Program Leader: Peter O'Dwyer, MD
The Clinical Investigations Program at Abramson Cancer Center is dedicated to the study of promising new drugs and combinations of drugs in treating cancer. It is through such studies that innovative agents discovered in the laboratory become useful cancer treatments.
All currently approved medical treatments for cancer initially go through phase I studies in order to evaluate their safety. Phase 1 studies define the proper dose and schedule for each new drug being studied. In the case of contemporary molecularly targeted therapies, phase 1 studies also seek to determine through analysis of blood samples and tumor biopsies whether the new drug has "hit" the intended target.
At any given time the Phase 1 Program at Penn offers a diverse menu of studies involving chemotherapy drugs, monoclonal antibodies, vaccine and other immune therapies, as well as oral "molecularly targeted" drugs. The latter are compounds that have been designed to block some of the molecular "switches" that cause cells to grow uncontrollably and become cancerous.
The principal goal of the program is to develop novel approaches for the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer, including new diagnostic strategies, and improved medical, surgical and radiotherapy techniques. The Clinical Investigations Program serves as link to other research programs that are focused more on basic, translational or cancer control research, with significant inter-programmatic collaborations with the breast cancer, melanoma, and stem cell biology and therapeutics programs.
The Clinical Investigations Program also offers phase 2 trials, often in collaboration with other major cancer centers, which seek to determine the effectiveness in the treatment of specific cancers of new drugs or new drug combinations that have successfully gone through phase 1 evaluation.