Personalized medicine helps cancer patients

TGen, Scottsdale Healthcare and Caris Dx clinical trial shows molecular profiling can result in specific treatments for individual patients that significantly limit the growth and spread of tumors

PHOENIX, Ariz. - April 19, 2009 - Some cancer patients can experience longer periods when their tumors do not progress under treatments based on their individual genetic profiles, according to a nationwide study by Phoenix-area healthcare organizations.

The study shows that molecular profiling of patients can identify specific treatments for individuals, helping keep their cancer in check for significantly longer periods, and in some cases even shrinking tumors.

Study results were released at the 100th annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research in Denver by Dr. Daniel Von Hoff, Physician-In-Chief of the Phoenix-based Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), and the study's Principal Investigator.

The study included 66 patients at nine centers across the United States, including Scottsdale Heathcare. Dr. Von Hoff also is the Chief Scientific Officer of TGen Clinical Research Services (TCRS) at Scottsdale Healthcare, a partnership between TGen and Scottsdale Healthcare that is administered by the Scottsdale Clinical Research Institute (SCRI) at Scottsdale Healthcare.

All of the patients had previously experienced growth of their tumors while undergoing as many as two to six prior cancer treatments, including conventional chemotherapy.

However, after molecular profiling identified precise targets, new treatments were administered that resulted in patients experiencing significant periods of time when there was no progression of their cancer.

"This clinical trial was unique because patients acted as their own control," said Dr. Von Hoff. "We compared each patient's progression-free (periods), following treatment based on molecular profiling, to how their tumors progressed under their prior treatment regimens, before molecular profiling."

In a significant number of patients, the targeted treatments provided significantly longer periods when tumors did not progress, or even shrunk, said Dr. Von Hoff, who also is a Medical Director of US Oncology and a former Director of the Arizona Cancer Center at the University of Arizona.

Dr. Von Hoff said the new study was done in a way that avoided issues surrounding tumor subtypes and differences in individual biology, which have confounded other clinical trials.

He said this clinical trial demonstrated the value of personalized medicine, in which treatments are prescribed based on an individual's specific genetic makeup. The type of drugs, dosages, their delivery and other treatment aspects - all are based on each patient's individual medical needs.

Among the patients, 27 percent had breast cancer, 17 percent had colorectal cancer, 8 percent had ovarian cancer and 48 percent had cancers that were classified as miscellaneous.

Patients experienced varying levels of improvement. Among those with breast cancer, the period when their tumors were progression-free increased for 44 percent of patients; for colorectal, 36 percent of patients; for ovarian, 20 percent of patients; and for miscellaneous cancers the improvement was seen in 16 percent of patients.

"With this trial, we are showing the power of personalized medicine using the tools we already have available to us. As these tools become more precise and more effective, the value of personalized medicine will increase," Dr. Von Hoff said.

The molecular profiling for this research study was performed by Caris Diagnostics (Caris Dx) in Phoenix.

These results are the first in a series of studies in support of Target Now™, a commercially-available oncology testing service offered exclusively by Caris Dx. Target Now uses cutting-edge molecular profiling techniques, including both DNA microarray and immunohistochemical (IHC) analysis, to provide individualized information about a patient's tumor as an aid to the treating oncologist.

"This trial is evidence of an important breakthrough in the treatment of cancer. We are excited to work with Dr. Von Hoff and TGen as we make this important molecular diagnostic information available to physicians to aid in therapy-selection decision making," said David D. Halbert, Chairman and CEO of Caris Diagnostics. "The valuable information provided through the Target Now panel of tests improves patient care while reducing costs for the payer."

Clinical studies were conducted by TCRS at the Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center at Scottsdale Healthcare Shea Medical Center. Scottsdale Healthcare is a primary clinical research site for TGen.

"Patients in our community have access to ground-breaking, world-class research right in their own backyard thanks to this collaboration," said Tom Sadvary, president and CEO of Scottsdale Healthcare. "Our goal is reducing the time it takes to get new treatment discoveries from the research lab to the patient. We are thrilled to see these advances in personalized medicine taking place right here in Scottsdale."

The recent clinical study was dubbed the Bisgrove Trial, after longtime Scottsdale Healthcare supporter Jerry Bisgrove. The trial was funded through a $5 million grant from Mr. Bisgrove's Stardust Foundation to the Scottsdale Healthcare Foundation. Mr. Bisgrove has been a patient at Scottsdale Healthcare and is a member of the Scottsdale Healthcare Foundation Board of Trustees. In honor of the Stardust gift, the research building at the Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center at Scottsdale Healthcare Shea Medical Center is named the Debi and Jerry Bisgrove Research Pavilion.

"The Stardust Foundation is proud to have played a key role in the advancements in cancer research represented by Dr. Von Hoff's clinical trial. We believe we are closer than ever to finding a cure for this devastating disease that affects so many millions," Mr. Bisgrove said.


About Scottsdale Healthcare
Scottsdale Healthcare is a primary clinical research site for TGen. TGen Clinical Research Services (TCRS) at Scottsdale Healthcare is housed in the Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center at Scottsdale Healthcare, located on the Scottsdale Healthcare Shea medical campus. Scottsdale Healthcare is the not-for-profit parent organization of the Scottsdale Healthcare Shea, Scottsdale Healthcare Osborn and Scottsdale Healthcare Thompson Peak hospitals, Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center, Scottsdale Clinical Research Institute, TGen Clinical Research Services at Scottsdale Healthcare, Scottsdale Healthcare Home Health Services, Scottsdale Healthcare Community Health Services, and Scottsdale Healthcare Foundation. For additional information, visit

About Scottsdale Clinical Research Institute (SCRI)
SCRI, established in 2005, provides infrastructure and support for the clinical research at Scottsdale Healthcare. Start-up funding for SCRI was provided by a lead gift of $4.5 million from the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust in 2005. An additional $5 million was provided by the Stardust Foundation to support this multi-site molecular profiling study of targeted therapies for treatment refractory cancers coordinated by SCRI. A defining feature of SCRI is a focus on genomics and personalized medicine as well as clinical and translational research. The basic science arm of SCRI is provided by a partnership with the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen). Innovations from TGen's laboratory are taken to the bedside at SHC by our joint clinical research program, TGen Clinical Research Services (TCRS) at Scottsdale Healthcare. Additional research collaborations include the University of Arizona, Arizona State University, other local health care delivery systems and participation in the Arizona NIH Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) program initiative. Areas of study at SCRI include Cancer, Cardiovascular, Trauma, Metabolic and Nanomedicine.

Press Contact:
Keith Jones
Public Relations Director
Scottsdale Healthcare
[email protected]


About TGen
The Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) is a non-profit organization dedicated to conducting groundbreaking research with life changing results. Research at TGen is focused on helping patients with diseases such as cancer, neurological disorders and diabetes. TGen is on the cutting edge of translational research where investigators are able to unravel the genetic components of common and complex diseases. Working with collaborators in the scientific and medical communities, TGen believes it can make a substantial contribution to the efficiency and effectiveness of the translational process. For more information, visit:

Press Contact:
Steve Yozwiak
TGen Senior Science Writer
[email protected]


About Caris Diagnostics
Caris Diagnostics (Caris Dx) is a leading provider of the highest quality diagnostic, translational development and pharmaceutical services encompassing anatomic pathology and molecular testing. Caris Diagnostics provides world-class pathology services to physicians who treat patients in the community setting. The company provides academic-caliber medical consults through its industry-leading team of subspecialty fellowship and expert-trained pathologists in gastrointestinal and liver pathology, dermatopathology and hematopathology. Caris Diagnostics provides the highest levels of service to its customers and their patients through its state-of-the-art laboratories; proprietary, advanced clinical and technology solutions; and rigorous quality assurance programs. Through the molecular testing expertise of the Caris Molecular Profiling Institute (Caris MPI) at Caris Dx, the company also offers advanced molecular analyses of patient samples through prognostic testing services and genomic and proteomic profiling to provide critical information to physicians treating cancer and other complex diseases. In addition, Caris MPI supports pharmaceutical companies and other researchers in their clinical trials for targeted therapeutics with custom genomic and proteomic analyses, analyte preservation, tissue procurement and comprehensive reporting services. The company has strategic relationships with the International Genomics Consortium, US Oncology, the Translational Genomics Research Institute, and the Biodesign Institute of Arizona State University. More than 2,000 physicians nationally use Caris Diagnostics. Formed in 1996, the company is headquartered in Irving, Texas and operates four laboratories: Irving, Texas; Phoenix, Arizona (2 sites); Newton, Massachusetts. Additional information is available at

Press Contact:
Brian Wright
Caris Dx
(602) 358-8916
[email protected]

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