Providence selected for nationwide immunotherapy network

October 24, 2011

Providence Cancer Center was chosen by the National Cancer Institute as one of 27 research institutions in the United States and Canada to be part of the Cancer Immunotherapy Trials Network.

The selection is a prestigious one. Providence is the only center chosen to join CITN that is not a major academic medical center. Other members include Baylor, Stanford, Duke and Yale.

“That is a reflection of the quality of research that is done at Providence,” says Walter J. Urba, M.D., Ph.D., director of cancer research for the Robert W. Franz Cancer Research Center in the Earle A. Chiles Research Institute at Providence Cancer Center.

The selection builds on the cancer center’s long history of research on immunotherapy as a cancer treatment, which relies on enhancing the body’s ability to recognize and attack malignant cancer cells. It is a much different approach from traditional cancer therapy, although immunotherapy is combined with traditional therapy in some trials.

A new federal initiative in the field of immunotherapy, the CITN is a consortium of top specialists who will select, design and conduct early-phase trials with promising new immunemodulating drugs to quickly develop new treatments for cancer.

Being part of the CITN helps ensure that Providence Cancer Center patients will have first access to the most promising new drug trials. Providence Cancer Center led an international immunotherapy trial with ipilimumab in patients with melanoma. The results of this trial led directly to FDA approval in April, and represents the first time any drug has been shown to extend survival in patients with late-stage melanoma.