Announced in June 2017, the awardees included two Young Investigator Awards and two Development Research Program Grants.
Pembrolizumab, Gemcitabine and Concurrent Hypofractionated Radiation Therapy for Muscle-Invasive Bladder Cancer
Arjun Balar, M.D., New York University School of Medicine, New York, NY
The purpose of this trial is to assess the efficacy of pembrolizumab (MK3475) when added to concurrent radiation and gemcitabine in managing patients with muscle-invasive urothelial cancer who either decline or are not candidates for radical cystectomy. Investigators hypothesize that heightening immune surveillance (pembrolizumab is an anti-PD-1 inhibitor) may increase eradication both of the local tumor and the micrometastases.
Defining the translational landscape of metastatic bladder cancer and its role in therapeutic response to chemotherapy
Brian Winters, M.D., University of Washington, Seattle, WA
Winters aims to discover new biomarkers and previously unrecognized therapeutic targets in bladder cancer relative to cisplatin-based chemotherapy by conducting the first comprehensive analysis of chemotherapy-sensitive, chemotherapy-resistant, and metastatic bladder cancer translation, utilizing ribosome profiling, which, to date, has not been applied to bladder cancer. The investigation has the potential to revolutionize the overall understanding of bladder cancer pathogenesis and guide future, related research.
Characterization of Urothelial Cancer Circulating Tumor Cells with a Novel Selection-Free Method
Heather Chalfin, M.D., Brady Urological Institute, Johns Hopkins University
To date, most research investigating circulating tumor cells (CTCs) as biomarkers of urothelial carcinoma (UC) has utilized an assay whose sensitivity is limited because of its reliance on positive selection of CTCs expressing the cell surface protein EpCAM. Chalfin’s study utilized a novel selection-free method to enumerate and characterize CTCs in patients with UC across a range of stages. Study results proved positive: CTCs were detected at all UC stages and exhibited phenotypic diversity for cell size and EpCAM expression.
Identification of Molecular Subtypes in Non-muscle Invasive Bladder Cancer
Woonyoung Choi, Ph.D., The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Dr. Choi’s research strives to enhance our understanding of the molecular landscape of bladder cancer. The ability to identify molecular subtypes in non-muscle invasive bladder cancer may eventually support the use of personalized therapy in bladder cancer—that is, treatment aimed at targeting specific molecular characteristics of individual patients’ disease.