Rutgers Cancer Institute One of Few Centers on East Coast to Offer Immunotherapy Clinical Trial Targeting Leukemia/Lymphoma
Article Image

Newswise — New Brunswick, N.J., September 8, 2015– Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey is one of a few East Coast sites to offer a clinical trial investigating an experimental drug known as REGN1979 in the treatment of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) and chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). The drug – designed to use the body’s own defenses to fight illness – targets a specific protein (called CD20) found in these particular types of cancer and targets another protein (called CD3) found on T-cells, a type of cell in the immune system. REGN1979 is designed to help T cells find and destroy B cells, including those cancerous B cells found in NHL and CLL. The goal is to determine how much of the drug can be given safely to patients who have the CD20 protein on their lymphoma or CLL cells.

“By harnessing the body’s own natural defenses, there is an opportunity to provide alternate therapies for patients with NHL and CLL whose disease has stopped responding to standard treatments,” notes Rajat Bannerji, MD, PhD, medical oncologist and principal investigator of the trial at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey and associate professor of medicine at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

Participants are expected to be involved in the study for at least one year. Patients enrolled into the study will receive an infusion of the study drug through a vein. Participants also will be asked permission for scientists to study tissue samples taken from tumors or bone marrow collected during certain clinic visits.

Adults aged 18 and older who are diagnosed with NHL or CLL and have had prior treatment with a particular antibody therapy (anti-CD20) are eligible to take part in the trial, provided they meet additional entry criteria. Prior to being enrolled into the study, participants would be required to undergo a number of tests including blood work and a physical exam.

For more information on how to take part in this trial, sponsored by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc., individuals should call the Cancer Institute’s Office of Human Research Services at 732-235-8675 or e-mail cinjclinicaltrials@cinj.rutgers.edu.

Clinical trials, often called cancer research studies, test new treatments and new ways of using existing treatments for cancer. At the Cancer Institute, researchers use these studies to answer questions about how a treatment affects the human body and to make sure it is safe and effective. There are several types of clinical trials that are currently underway at the Cancer Institute, including those that diagnose, treat, prevent, and manage symptoms of cancer. Many treatments used today, whether they are drugs or vaccines, ways to do surgery or give radiation therapy, or combinations of treatments, are the results of past clinical trials.

As New Jersey’s only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, the Cancer Institute offers patients access to treatment options not available at other institutions within the state. The Cancer Institute currently enrolls more than 1,200 patients in clinical trials annually, including approximately 17 percent of all new adult cancer patients and approximately 70 percent of all pediatric cancer patients. Enrollment in these studies nationwide is fewer than five percent of all adult cancer patients.

About Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey
Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey (www.cinj.org) is the state’s first and only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center. As part of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, the Cancer Institute of New Jersey is dedicated to improving the detection, treatment and care of patients with cancer, and to serving as an education resource for cancer prevention. Physician-scientists at the Cancer Institute engage in translational research, transforming their laboratory discoveries into clinical practice, quite literally bringing research to life. To make a tax-deductible gift to support the Cancer Institute of New Jersey, call 848-932-3637 or visit www.cinj.org/giving. Follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TheCINJ.

The Cancer Institute of New Jersey Network is comprised of hospitals throughout the state and provides the highest quality cancer care and rapid dissemination of important discoveries into the community. Flagship Hospital: Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. System Partner: Meridian Health (Jersey Shore University Medical Center, Ocean Medical Center, Riverview Medical Center, Southern Ocean Medical Center, and Bayshore Community Hospital). Major Clinical Research Affiliate Hospitals: Carol G. Simon Cancer Center at Morristown Medical Center and Carol G. Simon Cancer Center at Overlook Medical Center. Affiliate Hospitals: JFK Medical Center, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Hamilton (CINJ Hamilton), and Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset.