May 21, 2015:

The Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium (BTCRC) announces the opening of a clinical trial for patients with metastatic kidney cancer.

The study, known as BTCRC-GU14-003, involves a combination of pembrolizumab, a PD-1 inhibitor, with bevacizumab, a therapy that targets blood vessel formation in tumors, for the treatment of patients with metastatic kidney cancer.

The study is now open at the University of Illinois Cancer Center in Chicago. Additional member sites within the Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium will open the trial in the coming months.

Arkadiusz Dudek, MD, PhD, professor of medicine in hematology/oncology at the University of Illinois College of Medicine is the study’s sponsor-investigator.

Pembrolizumab, one of a new class of drugs called PD-1 inhibitors, works by targeting the PD-1 (programmed cell death-1) receptor on the surface of T cells. This receptor inhibits immune responses in normal physiologic function.

“Unfortunately, in the context of cancer, this inhibition is not desirable, because it causes the immune system to not recognize the tumor and causes tumor progression,” said Dr. Dudek. “With the use of this antibody, we remove the blockade, and therefore the immune response can be activated.”

This study consists of two parts, Phase Ib and Phase II.

The main goal for Phase Ib is to determine the maximum safe dose of pembrolizumab in combination with bevacizumab that can be given to patients whose cancer has grown or returned after receiving at least one prior type of treatment for metastatic clear cell kidney cancer.

The main goal for Phase II is to determine what effects pembrolizumab in combination with bevacizumab has on patients who have not received prior therapy for metastatic kidney cancer.

More information, including full eligibility criteria, is available at www.clinicaltrials.gov, using clinical trial # 02348008.

About the Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium: The Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium creates a unique team-research culture to drive science rapidly from ideas to treatment-changing paradigms. Within this innovative environment, today’s research leaders collaborate with and mentor the research leaders of tomorrow with the unified goal of improving the lives of all patients with cancer.

About the Big Ten Conference: The Big Ten Conference is an association of world-class universities whose member institutions share a common mission of research, graduate, professional and undergraduate teaching and public service. Founded in 1896, the Big Ten has sustained a comprehensive set of shared practices and policies that enforce the priority of academics in the lives of students competing in intercollegiate athletics and emphasize the values of integrity, fairness and competitiveness. The broad-based programs of the 14 Big Ten institutions will provide over $200 million in direct financial support to almost 9,500 students for more than 11,000 participation opportunities on 350 teams in 42 different sports. The Big Ten sponsors 28 official conference sports, 14 for men and 14 for women, including the addition of men’s ice hockey and men’s and women’s lacrosse since 2013. For more information, visit www.bigten.org.