AL COPELAND FOUNDATION SETS GOAL TO RAISE FUNDS FOR CLINICAL TRIALS IN THE GULF SOUTH REGION

06/10/2016

For Release: Immediately, Contact: Jenny Lacoste, Public Relations Manager, jlacoste@alcopeland.com, (504) 620-3764

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AL COPELAND FOUNDATION SETS GOAL TO RAISE FUNDS FOR CLINICAL TRIALS IN THE GULF SOUTH REGION

LSUHSC/Stanley S Scott Cancer Center has been selected as a site to open the new immunotherapy trial for Merkel Cell Cancer.

 

NEW ORLEANS, LA – The Al Copeland Foundation (ACF) is working to ensure that critical funds are raised to open the new immunotherapy trial for Merkel Cell Cancer.  LSUHSC/Stanley S Scott Cancer Center has been selected as a site to open the new immunotherapy trial for Merkel Cell Cancer entitled “Testing an experimental medication (MK-3475) for the Treatment of Merkel Cell Cancer”.  The trial is scheduled to open once approved by the university authorities.

 

ACF is also working to assist the recruitment of patients in need of this ground breaking treatment.   At this time, the closest site for the local community to enroll in this trial is in Tampa, FL.  This initiative is expanding the Al Copeland Foundation-LSU Health Science Center Partnership in Viruses, Cancer and Immunotherapy to ensure this treatment and the cure for all cancers are available locally to save the lives of the Gulf South community.

 

Scientists reported Tuesday, April 19 on two new studies showing that the medications, which marshal the body’s own immune defenses, are now having some effect against recurrent, difficult-to-treat head and neck cancer and an extremely lethal skin cancer called Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC). The phase II clinical trial had durable responses, and responses that were seen in those whose cancers were driven by a virus as well as those whose cancers were induced by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light, according to research presented in New Orleans at the AACR Annual Meeting 2016, April 16-20.

 

The new studies appear to be the first to find that “virus-driven cancers can be amenable to treatment by immunotherapy,” said Paul Nghiem, MD, PhD, affiliate investigator of the Clinical Research Division at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle and professor of medicine, Division of Dermatology, at the University of Washington School of Medicine.  “In this clinical trial, patients with metastatic Merkel cell carcinoma who received pembrolizumab had an objective response rate of 56 percent, which is similar to chemotherapy outcomes, but the duration of response to pembrolizumab appears to be significantly longer than that for chemotherapy,” stated Ngheim.  “While the study is still ongoing, the vast majority of patients [86 percent] who responded to pembrolizumab are still experiencing excellent disease control more than six months after starting therapy.”

 

“Currently there are no FDA-approved drugs for the treatment of MCC. We are expanding this trial to recruit additional patients and we hope that this data will contribute to meaningful new therapeutic options becoming available for these patients,” Nghiem said.

 

This study is also being simultaneously published in The New England Journal of Medicine. For more information visit www.alcopelandfoundation.org, contact Kathleen Gross by phone at 504-620-3727 or by emailing kgross@alcopeland.com to join ACF in Changing the Course of Cancer.

 

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