Research

The Brown Cancer Center is home to a robust clinical and basic science research program. Combining these research elements in a treatment environment provides the best opportunity for discovery of new techniques and therapies.

The James Graham Brown Cancer Center’s goal of “translational research” means that we are facilitating the rapid transfer of promising scientific discoveries from the laboratory to the patient’s bedside. This is also the goal of the National Institutes of Health and has been identified as the most important area of medical research for the next decade. The James Graham Brown Cancer Center’s strategic plan calls for the development of strong translational research, primarily focused on drug discovery and development. We have one of the most robust pipelines of anti-cancer drugs of any cancer center in the nation.

The University of Louisville, the community and state have made a considerable investment in the development of the Brown Cancer Center. This is beginning to pay off. The multidisciplinary clinics at the Center are providing state-of-the-art therapies in a patient-friendly environment. Brown Cancer Center scientists have made a remarkable number of important discoveries which have propelled us onto the international stage. These include:

First description of VSELs (Very Small Embryonic-like Stem Cells).

These “embryonic-like” cells, isolated from adult bone marrow, promise to revolutionize the clinical applications of stem cells and our understanding of cancer metastasis.

First development of a tobacco-based cancer vaccine.

Drs. Jenson and Ghim, Brown Cancer Center scientists who were the inventors of the world’s first 100% effective cancer vaccine, have extended their work to develop a less expensive vaccine with a broader spectrum of activity, which will be the world’s first vaccine produced in tobacco plants.

First clinical use of G-rich Oligonucleotide aptamer therapy for cancer.

Drs. Trent and Bates discovered a novel growth inhibitor activity of these oligonucleotides which have been quite effective in early phase clinical trials, with absolutely no toxicity in humans. This drug, AS1411, is now demonstrating remarkable results in Phase II clinical trials.

First atomic-level study of lung cancer metabolism in human patients.

Scientists in the Structural Biology Program, Drs. Lane and Fan, have been able to use Nuclear Magnetic Resonance analysis to follow the atoms of glucose metabolized by patients with lung cancer to demonstrate very unexpected differences between normal and malignant lung tissue.

First use of the cardiac drug, digoxin as a means to enhance the effects of chemotherapy in lung cancer.

Brown Cancer Center clinical investigators have used laboratory findings to design a clinical trial in which the cardiac drug, digoxin, is used to supplement chemotherapy treatment. Early results from this clinical trial suggest that this treatment will result in the highest response rate for melanoma ever reported. Lung cancer results are currently being analyzed.

First use of Beta-glucan as an immunostimulant for human cancer therapy.

Dr. Gordon Ross and Brown Cancer Center scientists discovered that beta-glucan, an orally available dietary stimulant, can markedly enhance the immune response of mice to injected tumors. This is now being tested for the first time in humans at UofL and at Sloane Kettering Cancer Center.

First discovery of novel, targeted drugs that inhibit cancer cell metabolism.

The Brown Cancer Center has a robust pipeline of more than fourteen individual novel cancer drugs. This includes several of the first drugs specifically targeted to cancer cell metabolism.

First use of colored berries to prevent cancer in high risk individuals.

Dr. Ramesh Gupta has been the first to show that colored berries can prevent the development of cancer in animals. He is now preparing the first human clinical trial using this approach.

Because of the rapid growth of its translational research programs, Brown Cancer Center scientists have already developed three novel cancer treatments which are currently in early phase trials. Additionally, they have at least twenty-seven new drugs or targets which are in various stages of preclinical testing. This is one of the most robust pipelines of any cancer center in the world. In order to ensure that these drugs are developed locally we have created Advanced Cancer Therapeutics (ACT), a biotech company which will be partially owned by the University of Louisville/Brown Cancer Center. ACT will fund the development of two to three new drugs per year through Phase I clinical trials.

Our clinical programs continue to develop as well. With the continued focus on our multidisciplinary approach to cancer treatment planning and patient care, we believe we are able to provide the highest quality patient experience possible. We are committed to continuing to develop and strengthen this approach to care with a continued focus on faculty recruitment and program support.

The future is bright, indeed. However, in order to achieve our goal of National Cancer Institute designation, we will need to continue to grow. Additional faculty recruitment and retention of our outstanding faculty will ensure that the Brown Cancer Center will become a truly preeminent cancer center. Most importantly, however, we will continue to work every day towards the goal of eradicating the cancer problem in Kentucky.

Several new approaches to treatment and prevention initiated by Brown Cancer Center researchers have been approved for use in clinical trials.