Cutting-Edge Research Brings Advanced Therapies to our Community

January 13, 2009

Through their involvement in clinical trials, researchers at Floyd Memorial, the Joslin Diabetes Center Affiliate and the Cancer Center of Indiana are making major contributions to medical science. Because of these clinical trials, many patients in our community have access to advanced therapies that would not be available to them otherwise. Physicians and expert researchers, Vasti Broadstone, MD, Naveed Chowhan, MD and Eugene C. Fletcher, MD offered examples of the many trials currently in progress.

Floyd Memorial Hospital

“Two current trials involve inpatients who have developed serious diseases while on ventilators,” said Dr. Fletcher. “The first is for patients who have sepsis, or blood poisoning. Remarkably, the drug we are testing, Talactoferrin, is made from a protein in mother’s milk. When ingested, it blocks the secretion of chemicals that induce sepsis. The drug has no major side effects because it is a milk protein. Another trial is for pneumonia caused by MRSA, which are drug-resistant bacteria. Two drugs are effective against the disease. We are working to determine whether the newer drug is better.”

“One outpatient study currently enrolling,” said Dr. Fletcher, “is comparing two drugs that treat deep vein thrombosis, or blood clots. The current standard, Coumadin, is very effective, but has several drawbacks, such as requiring five days to become effective and five days to clear the system if bleeding becomes a problem. The new drug, Apixaban, doesn’t have these drawbacks. The study is enrolling qualified patients with an identifiable cause for blood clots.”

For more information on outpatient trials available at Floyd Memorial, call 812-948-5841.

Joslin Diabetes Center Affiliate

“We are always looking at new classes of drugs,” said Dr. Broadstone, “One very exciting study is for people with Type 2 diabetes whose condition is not well controlled by oral medications. When pills are not working, the patient needs to move to insulin. However, people who go on insulin are likely to gain weight if they don’t watch their diet carefully. We are now studying a class of medications that makes the body work better with sugar. The drug in this trial is an injectable medication called Taspoglutide, and it actually helps patients lose weight. It could be a very attractive therapy.”

Dr. Broadstone added, “Patients who participate in clinical trials are in a unique situation. The cutting-edge drugs can benefit them immediately and, in the long run, benefit many, many other people. They provide a valuable service and are like family to us.”

For more information on trials available at the Joslin Diabetes Center Affiliate, call 812-981-6684.

Cancer Center of Indiana

According to Dr. Chowhan, “The Cancer Center of Indiana currently has trials underway for breast, lung and colon cancer; a blood disease called ITP; lymphoma and myeloma. We also have trials available for all stages of breast cancer. For example, a few years ago, a gene was discovered that causes a very aggressive type of the disease. One drug we are studying is for that particular subset of patients. We are also doing a different trial for the women in that group with metastatic cancer.”

“We also participate in trials for many targeted therapies,” said Dr. Chowhan. “In these, patients receive the standard, approved chemotherapy. However, we add a drug that blocks the growth receptor site on the cancer cells or on the blood vessels that feed the tumors.” Another trial is for patients who have developed antibodies to their own blood platelets, which allow blood to clot. “They have only one-fifth to one-tenth the normal number of platelets,” he explained. “This drug looks promising in helping them produce more.”

For more information on trials available at the Cancer Center of Indiana, call 812-945-4000, option 2.