Working to find a cure for cancer

SPARTANBURG — As scientists and physicians work to find a cure for cancer, they are constantly testing and evaluating new treatments and medications through research.

In order to receive FDA approval, new cancer treatments are evaluated in a series of carefully controlled clinical trials. Phase I trials are generally the first phase of evaluating new drugs in people.

Gibbs Cancer Center & Research Institute is one of the few community cancer centers in the nation with a Phase I clinical trials program, giving patients an avenue to medications they wouldn’t normally have access to. Many of the most exciting new drugs are only available to patients as part of a Phase I clinical trial. Gibbs Cancer Center & Research Institute is currently screening patients now for several trials.

Co-directors of the Phase I Program at Gibbs are Caio Rocha Lima, MD, Associate Center Director for Translational Research and Melanie Thomas, MD, Associate Center Director for Experimental Therapeutics.

Both Thomas and Rocha Lima joined Gibbs in January 2015 and have extensive experience with conducting and publishing Phase I clinical trials.

“Most Phase I programs are at larger universities so it is very unique for a community center of our size to offer this,” Dr. Rocha Lima said. “Our patients will now have access to these high end trials without getting in the car or on a plane to travel a long distance to a university center.”

Pharmaceutical companies are highly selective in choosing cancer centers to participate in Phase I trials. Gibbs activated two Phase I trials in 2015. Both are evaluating a novel drug that protects the immune system of lung cancer patients receiving standard chemotherapy. Gibbs is one of only five sites in the United States to open these trials.

“These are very complex trials that involve extensive safety measures and companies are very selective with sites where they open Phase I trials,” Thomas said. “It is very competitive.”

Conducting Phase I trials requires the coordinated efforts of an experienced team including doctors, nurses, research coordinators, research pharmacists and other specialists.

“Once a patient has tried standard treatment options, Phase I trials can be added as another layer of treatment,” Thomas said. “Phase I trials increase the treatment options for a patient. Demonstrating that the drug is safe and can help patients is the top priority.”

For more information on clinical trials available at Gibbs Cancer Center & Research Institute, please call 1-800-DNA-GIBBS.

About Gibbs Cancer Center & Research Institute

Gibbs Cancer Center & Research Institute is a nationally recognized cancer treatment and research facility associated with the National Cancer Institute Community Cancer Center program and the Medical University of South Carolina. Named for benefactors Marsha and Jimmy Gibbs and with locations in Spartanburg, Gaffney and Greer, Gibbs is a proven leader in providing effective cancer treatment through advanced technology, professional expertise and an exceptional level of personalized care. Gibbs’ oncology program, which also includes the Bearden-Josey Center for Breast Health, has been recognized by the Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons as offering high-quality cancer care. In 2012, Gibbs joined forces with Bon Secours St. Francis Health System to expand world-class oncology services and clinical research in the Upstate. In 2013, the Gibbs expanded its research efforts by opening a 7,500-square-foot state-of-the-art facility at Pelham Medical Center.

About Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System

Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System (SRHS) offers a full spectrum of services through four hospitals: Spartanburg Medical Center, Pelham Medical Center, Spartanburg Hospital for Restorative Care and Union Medical Center. SRHS also includes Ellen Sagar Nursing Center, 113-bed long-term care, skilled nursing facility that offers nursing care and rehabilitation services. SRHS provides unparalleled oncological care through the Gibbs Cancer Center & Research Institute. The multidisciplinary Medical Group of the Carolinas has more than 300 physicians across seven counties in two states. SRHS employs nearly 6,000 associates and offers outpatient surgery centers, a vibrant post-acute division, a Level I Trauma Center, and Advicare, a licensed Health Maintenance Organization (HMO). Advicare provides Medicaid services to residents throughout the state of South Carolina. U.S. News and World Report ranked Spartanburg Medical Center the No. 1 regional hospital in South Carolina in 2014-15. The Commission on Cancer gave Gibbs Cancer Center & Research Institute its Outstanding Achievement Award.

This story was submitted by the Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System.
Gibbs Cancer Center conducting Phase I clinical trials

This story was submitted by the Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System.

This story was submitted by the Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System.