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From our labs to your patients: New clinical trials available Groundbreaking scientific research and discoveries are happening at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center. And now we are testing these discoveries in clinical trials, providing potentially new treatment options for your patients. At any given time we have more than 100 cancer clinical trials open for accruals. A phase Ib clinical study (HUM00052808) is testing a drug that has been found in preclinical studies to attack cancer stem cells – the 1% to 5% of cells that fuel the tumor’s growth and metastasis. The drug, reparixin, will be used in combination with standard chemotherapy for women with HER2-negative metastatic breast cancer.

cells and signs of inflammation. The study will also look at how effective this treatment combination is at controlling the cancer and impacting survival. U-M is one of three sites conducting the study and is the only site in Michigan. For men with castration-resistant metastatic prostate cancer, an NCI-sponsored phase 2 study (HUM00060473) will test whether patients who possess a genetic anomaly will respond better to abiraterone and whether combination therapy with a PARP inhibitor can maximize the anticancer effects in general but particularly in patients whose tumors harbor the genetic anomaly. The clinical trial is based on scientific findings that half of prostate cancers harbor a gene fusion

in which two genes translocate and fuse together to create a hybrid gene. Researchers believe this fusion is the triggering event for prostate cancer and may represent a novel therapy target. “We hope this study will help us understand why certain patients respond to therapy and certain patients do not. By better understanding the evolving biology of prostate cancer, we will have the ability to better treat the disease,” says the study’s principal investigator, Maha Hussain, M.D., professor of internal medicine and urology, and associate director of clinical research at the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center. The study is being conducted at 11 sites across the country, with U-M the only site in the state.

“This is one of only a few trials testing stem cell-directed therapies in combination with chemotherapy in breast cancer. Combining chemotherapy with stem cell therapy has the potential to lengthen remissions for women with advanced breast cancer,” says principal investigator Anne Schott, M.D., associate professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan. The study is primarily intended to test how patients tolerate the combination of reparixin, which is taken orally, and paclitaxel. Researchers will also look at how reparixin appears to be impacting markers for cancer stem

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Continued from page one..... For hematologic malignancies, we currently have more than 30 open clinical trials, many of them based on the large number of experimental drugs developed at U-M. The program is led by Moshe Talpaz, M.D., one of the world’s leading clinical investigators in hematologic malignancies. “One of our great strengths in treating patients with hematologic cancers is that our teams of worldclass physicians, clinical investigators, physician-scientists and laboratory scientists are so productive in developing therapeutic drugs. These, in turn, move into clinical trials, through which we are able to find which drugs are highly promising and potentially beneficial to patients,” says Talpaz, associate director of translational research at the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Novel therapeutic trials are available in leukemia, lymphoma, multiple myeloma and graft-vs.-host disease. As we look to partner with you more on clinical trials, look for regular communications about open clinical trials at the Cancer Center.

To learn more about clinical trial opportunities at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, call M-LINE at 800-962-3555 or visit

Alon Weizer named medical director

The University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center has named Alon Weizer, M.D., M.S., as medical director. In this role,

Weizer will be responsible for managing the day-to-day clinical outpatient operations at the Cancer Center.

malignancies. He is also interested in the development of quality indicators for cancer care.

Weizer is associate professor of urology at the U-M Medical School. His clinical and research interest focuses on prevention and early detection of bladder cancer, novel treatments for early bladder cancer, and the use of minimally invasive approaches to treat bladder, prostate, kidney, testicular and other genitourinary

Weizer earned his medical degree from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and completed a six-year training program in general surgery and urology at Duke University, where he was chief resident in urology. He then completed a urologic oncology and minimally invasive surgery fellowship at U-M before joining the faculty in

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2007. He has also completed the master’s program in clinical research design and statistical analysis at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. The medical director position was formerly held by Douglas Blayney, M.D. Weizer will work closely with Kathleen Cooney, M.D., who in January was appointed deputy director for clinical services for the Cancer Center. Weizer’s appointment was effective June 17.

New facult y

The U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center has added new faculty to enhance the multidisciplinary care offered throughout the center.

Megan Caram, M.D. Urologic Oncology Clinic Clinical Lecturer Hematology/Oncology. She completed her fellowship and residency here at the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, MI). Dr. Caram is a graduate of the New York Medical College (Valhalla, NY).

Petros Grivas, M.D., Ph.D. Urologic Oncology Clinic Clinical Lecturer Hematology/Oncology. He completed his fellowship here at the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, MI) and his residency at Drexel University College of Medicine/Hahnemann University Hospital (Philadelphia, PA). Dr. Grivas earned his Ph.D. in Medical Oncology and his medical degree from the University of Patras School of Medicine (Patras, Greece).

Brian Parkin, M.D. Bone Marrow Transplant Program Clinical Lecturer Hematology/Oncology. He completed his fellowship and residency here at the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, MI). Dr. Parkin is a graduate of the University of Toledo College of Medicine (Toledo, OH).

Christine Veenstra, M.D. Gastroenterology Oncology Clinic Clinical Lecturer Hematology/Oncology. She completed her fellowship at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, PA) and her residency here at the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, MI). Dr. Veenstra is a graduate of Wayne State University School of Medicine (Detroit, MI).

If you would like an introduction to these or any of the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center’s faculty, please let Physician Liaison Laurie Powell know at or call M-Line at 800-962-3555.

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If you would like to schedule an appointment, transfer a patient, or request a consult, please call

M-LINE 800-962-3555 Please let us know what you think of this publication or if you would rather receive it electronically. You can contact Physician Liaison Laurie Powell or email us at

Clinical Happenings New Service for High Risk Prostate Cancer Patients

Patients that are considered should have a

and avoiding a vast majority of side

Gleason >8, PSA >20, staged at T3 ≥ and/

effects from the drug on the rest of the

or N1, or two or more of the following:


With close to 30,000 men dying from

T2b/c, Gleason 7, PSA 10-20. If you have

prostate cancer each year, we are now

a patient that might benefit from the high

offering a comprehensive service for

risk prostate cancer clinic, please call

those men at high risk of dying from

M-LINE at 800-962-3555.

their disease. This new clinic brings together specialists in urology, radiation oncology and medical oncology as well as molecular pathologists to create customized medical management options for care of these complex, high-risk patients.

New Treatment Benefits Patients with Melanoma or Merkel Cell

Studies have shown that if the disease is confined to a single limb, response rates are as high as 60-80% and many patients will achieve a complete response to treatment. To be eligible, patients must have stage IV melanoma or Merkel cell carcinoma

Two unique therapy options are getting

that is isolated to an extremity. Cancer

good results for patients with metastatic

can be in the lymph nodes and prior

melanoma or Merkel cell carcinoma

therapies are allowed. In-transit

that affects only an extremity.

metastases typically respond well.

Hyperthermic isolated limb perfusion

The multidisciplinary team , led by

and hyperthermic isolated limb infusion

Mark Cohen, M.D., assistant professor

Ganesh Palapattu, M.D., will provide

allows for a concentrated dose of

of surgery, is offering this procedure.

a thorough evaluation, including a

chemotherapy to be delivered directly to

comprehensive genetic screening, to put

the affected limb, targeting the tumors

into place a personalized treatment plan.

and tissues of the limb with the disease

To refer your patients for hyperthermic isolated limb perfusion or limb infusion, call M-LINE at 800-962-3555.

University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center Max S. Wicha, M.D., Director; Marcy B. Waldinger, MHSA, Chief Administrative Officer

Executive Officers of the University of Michigan Health System

The Regents of the University of Michigan

Ora Hirsch Pescovitz, M.D., Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs; James O. Woolliscroft, M.D., Dean, U-M Medical School; Douglas Strong, Chief Executive Officer, U-M Hospitals and Health Centers; Kathleen Potempa, Dean, School of Nursing.

Mark J. Bernstein, Julia Donovan Darlow, Laurence B. Deitch, Shauna Ryder Diggs, Denise Ilitch, Andrea Fischer Newman, Andrew C. Richner, Katherine E. White, Mary Sue Coleman (ex officio).

The University of Michigan, is a non-discriminatory affirmative action employer. © 2013 The Regents of the University of Michigan

University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center Update - August 2013  
University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center Update - August 2013  

Bi-annual newsletter highlighting new programs, physicians and news from the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center.