How Clinical Trials Advance Cancer

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s Director of the Early Drug Development Center, Geoffrey Shapiro, MD, PhD, addressed many questions that individuals often have regarding clinical trials. Additionally, he discussed how cancer treatment overall can be improved. The DFCI’s Early Drug Development Center specializes in conducting phase I clinical trials.

Shapiro discussed the importance of clinical trials noting that they are they are necessary in determining the safety and efficacy of new cancer drugs or drug combinations. He specifically noted the degree of care and attention to control necessary to generate a substantial enough amount of data that will ultimately allow medical scientists the ability to determine whether a drug is safe, what the appropriate dosage should be, and how effective the drug is.

When considering the advances made in clinical trials, Shapiro highlighted cell-cycle related agents, including CDK inhibitors. CDK inhibitors can prevent the proliferation of cancer cells and have transformed the treatment of estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer. Shapiro and his team are now extending the uses of these drugs to other diseases, including lung cancer, glioblastoma, and some forms of lymphoma and sarcoma.

While DFCI does extremely well in filling its clinical trials, nationally, the percentage of cancer patients participating in trials is alarmingly low. One of the most meaningful ways cancer patients can impact and continue to progress cancer treatment is by enrolling in a clinical trial. To learn more about Dana-Farber’s clinical trials, read Shapiro’s full interview.