Newswise — Cancer patients throughout New Jersey will have greater access to the latest generation of clinical trials, including several never offered before, as part of a research program funded by a $4.25 million federal grant whose two leading recipients include Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey.
Clinical trials that test new more targeted medications offer patients additional opportunities when standard therapy is not effective for their cancer.
The five-year grant from the National Cancer Institute will allow Rutgers to pool resources and expertise with the University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center to develop clinical trials, and have access to additional clinical trials as part of a network of cancer centers throughout the nation.
This grant comes at what may be an especially opportune time – when an approach to treating cancer called “precision medicine” has gained traction and importance.
Precision medicine includes treatments that are tailored to the specific genetic profile of each patient’s cancer, according to Robert DiPaola, director of the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, and is widely seen as a major advance over previous methods of treatment for many cancers, which often used a one-size-fits-all approach.
DiPaola, who has overseen his institute’s efforts to develop new forms of precision medicine as well as clinical trials to help put them into use, says the combined resources of the two institutions can both broaden the scope of research on new cancer treatments and move it forward more quickly. “By working together with colleagues at UW Carbone Cancer Center,” DiPaola explains, “we have enhanced opportunities to develop new mechanisms by which to guide more tailored therapies for patients.” The two institutions will also be able to make data from their clinical trials more valuable by drawing patients from the heavily populated states of New Jersey and Wisconsin, as well as from other cancer centers across the country.
As one of the first cancer research collaborations with a fellow Big Ten University since Rutgers became a member of the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC), the academic arm of the Big Ten Conference, this clinical trial project is also part of a major expansion in the overall scope of Rutgers research. The consortium comprises 15 top-tier universities, including the University of Chicago, the members of the Big Ten and the Big Ten’s incoming members – Rutgers and the University of Maryland. Rutgers joined the CIC last July, a year before its entrance to the Big Ten.
The Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey is the only NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center in the state, and one of just 41 across the country.