UAB conducts ground breaking abdominal cancer trials

The trial targets cancers that affect the abdomen.
The trial targets cancers that affect the abdomen.

There are new clinical trials at the University of Alabama Birmingham Comprehensive Cancer center to fight aggressive abdominal cancers.

The new method is very different from traditional chemotherapy.

The lab at the Comprehensive Center is the center of a major cancer study. Dr. Ruby Meredith is studying the case and is a doctor involved in the trial.

"The trial that we have open now is using a radio labeled antibody into the peritoneal cavity.  This is for patients that have disease that spread through the cavity," said Meredith.

She said the timing of the study was ironic.

"The original agent we were using became no longer available.  Now we are excited that a new agent has not only come along, has a lot of potential to be better than the prior agent."

Patrick Bourdet is the president and CEO of Areva Med, a subsidiary of Areva based in France. Areva is a leading nuclear energy supplier. The treatment uses "Radioactive lead 212."

"We extract it, which we derive in France and then there is a very interesting chemical process that allows us to make this lead compatible for medical needs," said Bourdet. "When it is done we ship it to this side of the Atlantic, where our friends at the University of Alabama Birmingham."

The Radio immunotherapy uses the radioactive isotope to fight cancers like pancreatic, ovarian, colon, gastric, endometrial and other which have spread to the abdomen. The method is less susceptible to resistance than chemotherapy.

It is still early in the FDA sanctioned trial, but Dr. Meredith said there is no evidence of toxicity for the patients so far.

"At some point, hopefully if everything works well, we will - as much as we can - try to combat other types of pathogens and other types of cancer," said Bourdet.

The clinical trials are expected to take about two years.

Copyright 2012 WAFF. All rights reserved.