Charles Rosser

The University of Hawaiʻi Cancer Center, in partnership with The Queen’s Medical Center via the Hawaiʻi Cancer Consortium, is launching a new national clinical drug trial looking at the effectiveness of a promising new drug against non-muscle invasive bladder cancer, the most common type of bladder cancer with very high recurrence rates.

Unlike other national drug trials based on the mainland, this clinical trial is based in Hawaiʻi and is among the first to highlight Hawaiʻi as a growing healthcare center and focal point between Asia and the U.S. in the fight against cancer. The project also highlights the specialty inpatient unit at Queen’s, where these early clinical trials can be safely performed.

“The medical community does not yet have an effective means of preventing bladder cancer from recurring with currently available treatments,” said Professor Charles Rosser, a UH Cancer Center urologist and principal investigator of the trial. “Finding an effective treatment would go a long way toward preventing more people from suffering from this disease.”

The trial will examine the efficacy of ALT-803, a drug created by Florida-based Altor BioScience Corp. In early studies, the drug showed strong potential to stimulate the body’s immune system and create a protective and long-lasting effect against tumors. Altor BioScience has received a $1.2 million Small Business Innovation Research grant from the National Cancer Institute to test ALT-803 against non-muscle invasive bladder cancer for this Phase I/II trial.

Patients will be treated at Queen’s, in a six-bed unit located on the oncology floor. Queen’s has the only inpatient clinical trials unit focusing on translational research in Hawaiʻi, in particular Phase I/II trials. “This is the beginning of many future endeavors partnering with the UH Cancer Center to bring new cancer treatments/trials to Hawaiʻi,” said Darlena Chadwick, vice president of patient care at Queen’s. “Thanks to the establishment of the Hawaiʻi Cancer Consortium, we are able to attract and recruit innovative researchers like Dr. Rosser, who will engage and work with our local physicians in order to bring their new treatments to the people of Hawaiʻi.”

More on bladder cancer

Developing novel effective treatments for bladder cancer is important because bladder cancer has a high rate of recurrence, making it one of the most expensive cancers to treat on a per patient basis.

Up to 70 percent of patients with non-muscle invasive bladder cancer may develop cancer recurrence, making it one of the most prevalent cancers in the U.S. The National Cancer Institute estimates nearly 74,700 new cases in the U.S. will be diagnosed in 2014, and nearly 15,600 people will die from it. More than a half million people in the U.S. are bladder cancer survivors.

A University of Hawaiʻi Cancer Center news release