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Sarcoma partnership expands treatment access

In an effort to broaden the scope of sarcoma treatment in the Midwest, six institutions have joined forces to establish the Midwest Sarcoma Trials Partnership

May 6, 2014

Sarcoma is a form of cancer that affects bone, muscle and other connective tissue. The goal of the Midwest Sarcoma Trials Partnership is to combine resources, share knowledge and increase patient recruitment for clinical trials in order to advance sarcoma care.

The partner institutions are Washington University School of Medicine, the Mayo Clinic, Northwestern University, the University of Iowa, the University of Minnesota and the University of Wisconsin.

“This is a valuable new resource available to patients in the Midwest from a group of leading cancer institutions that have agreed to work together,” said Brian Van Tine, MD, PhD, a Washington University oncologist at Barnes-Jewish Hospital.

“Sarcomas are a rare tumor population,” he said. “The standard of care for this cancer is a clinical trial. So we’ve come together to provide information, education and clinical trial opportunities to make sure that the quality of sarcoma care in the Midwest is the same as anywhere else.”

These major institutions all have dedicated sarcoma clinics, tumor boards and strong basic science and clinical research programs that are markers of high expertise in treating sarcomas, according to Van Tine.

First clinical trial underway

The newly formed partnership is already recruiting patients for its first clinical trial, a phase II study of tivozanib, a drug that inhibits a tyrosine kinase enzyme. The trial will test the drug in patients with soft tissue sarcomas that have metastasized and that are not able to be surgically removed.

“In this first trial, we are testing a new tyrosine kinase inhibitor in any soft tissue sarcoma,” Van Tine said. “Then we have two more trials opening soon behind this one. Our goal is rapid accrual of patients with high quality of care.”

Van Tine also points out additional opportunities provided by the partnership.

“Within this larger group, we are able to write our own trials,” he said. “We are also able to approach industry to test new drugs in a larger setting, and we hope potential industry partners will approach us to perform clinical trials as well.”

“Washington University on its own is one of the major centers in the Midwest in terms of patient volume,” Van Tine said. “With this larger partnership, we are able to provide expanded access to clinical trials so that patients don’t have to go to the East or West Coast for their sarcoma care.”