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15Dec 2017

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Novel study design improves cancer drug research

Promovenda Emilie van Brummelen

Novel designs for early clinical studies testing new anticancer agents can improve the results of these studies, Emilie van Brummelen concludes based on her PhD research. She investigated several new anticancer agents and potential applications of biomarkers. Van Brummelen will defend her thesis on December 18th at Utrecht University.

Emilie van Brummelen investigated several novel anticancer therapies in phase I studies in patients, such as the immunotherapies pembrolizumab and cergutuzumab amunaleukin, and combined MEK and HER inhibition in patients with KRAS mutant tumors. She also discovered that biomarkers such as BRAF can help select patients for treatment with antibodies against the EGFR protein. Moreover, she concludes that antibodies against drugs can have relevant clinical consequences in oncology, and that pembrolizumab shows promising effects in patients with mesothelioma (asbestos cancer). Lastly, Van Brummelen worked on optimizing clinical phase I trials, focusing on selecting the right patient groups, improving trial design, determining and overcoming resistance, and using biomarkers for future studies. So far, early clinical trials were often done with a standard method testing increasing doses in groups of 3 to 6 patients. Using models describing the relationship between dosage and side effects can shorten these studies with up to 10 months, while patients have a greater chance of being treated with an effective dose. Based on these results Van Brummelen recommends the use of these trials designs in order to make the development of new drugs more efficient.

Details of the defense
Emilie van Brummelen will defend her thesis on Monday December 18th, at 2.30 pm. Location: Academiegebouw, Domplein 29, 3512 JE Utrecht. The title of her thesis is: Early clinical development of novel anticancer agents. Her promotors are Jan Schellens and Jos Beijnen (Netherlands Cancer Institute).

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