|| Akron General McDowell Cancer Institute Chosen As Prostate Cancer Trial Site

Akron General McDowell Cancer Institute Chosen As Prostate Cancer Trial Site

Akron, OH - Akron General Medical Center is teaming up with one of the nation’s leading hospitals to test a new treatment option for men with hard-to-treat advanced prostate cancer.

Johns Hopkins University Medical Center in Baltimore is spearheading the study to determine if a new combination therapy eases symptoms and shrinks tumors for patients after standard treatment approaches fail.

The Akron General McDowell Cancer Institute is the only other site nationwide involved in the pilot trial, which is being funded by the Akron-based One-in-Six Foundation.

Akron attorney J. Bruce Hunsicker started the nonprofit group to support screenings and cancer research after he was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer in 2004.

He died at age 55 in 2010.

“This is the kind of thing that might have saved his life,” his wife and One-in-Six Foundation President Laura Hunsicker said of the new research.

The researchers want to enroll five patients at Akron General with prostate cancer that has spread to other parts of the body despite a conventional course of treatment with two medications — Xtandi (enzalutamide) and docetaxel, a chemotherapy drug.

The new treatment being studied combines the hormone blocker enzalutamide with a steroid called dexamethasone.

Enzalutamide works by blocking the connection between hormones and hormone receptors in the body that cause the tumors to grow. The steroid has been shown to reduce inflammation and relieve pain, fatigue and loss of appetite caused by cancer.

The hope is that the steroid will “resensitize” patients to the hormone blocker after that drug has stopped working, Dr. Esther Rehmus, head of Akron General’s cancer protocol review committee and local principal investigator for the study.

For patients in which standard treatments have failed, the new approach being studied “could buy them some time and comfort,” Rehmus said.

“It’s another option,” she said. “We’ll be looking for the patients as the study opens in the fall. If it makes a substantial difference, the number of patients in the study would be increased.”

The One-in-Six Foundation provided thousands of dollars in seed money for the first phase of research beginning five years ago to Johns Hopkins research and oncologist Dr. Samuel R. Denmeade, who was among the doctors treating Hunsicker after his diagnosis.

When Denmeade sought additional support to expand the trial to another site, Hunsicker agreed, saying: “That would be great. And I’d like to do it in Akron, Ohio.”

“We’ve always wanted to bring a project to an Akron hospital,” she said. “…This is a dream come true. I just know this is something that would have made Bruce incredibly happy.”

The foundation is providing a total of $70,000 to support the Phase II clinical trial.

Phase II trials are designed to test whether new treatments are effective and safe before larger, Phase III trials are launched to confirm effectiveness, monitor side effects and compare results to other commonly used treatments.

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Laura Hunsicker
One-In-Six Foundation President