GHS hosts regional cancer moonshot summit as part of national event

GREENVILLE, SC—Some of the clinical trials being discussed at the national conference are already underway at GHS’ Cancer Institute and its Institute for Translational Oncology Research, which works closely with pharmaceutical innovators to develop and test new therapies.

“Immunotherapy advances have tremendously accelerated over the past two years,” said Jeff Edenfield, MD, medical director of ITOR and the founder of GHS’ Rare Tumor Center.  “While we’ve been able to fight cancer using tools like surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, we’ve only just begun to arrive at the point where we can activate the human body to take the fight directly to the cancer cells. The work being done now – nationwide and here – will be a game-changer.”

Some of the key GHS trials that use innovation pairings include the following:

  • A GHS-developed rare tumor trial will use a one-two punch of two different immunotherapy medications (MEDI4746 and tremelimumab) to fire up and strengthen cancer-fighting T cells. The trial will launch in summer and is expected to attract patients from around the nation. GHS laid the groundwork for the trial with its Rare Tumor Clinic, which opened in 2014. This is the first basket trial specifically targeting rare cancers.
  • A trial opening this summer will target ways to inhibit function of ATR, a protein known to promote DNA repair, cancer survival, while at the same time strengthening a protein known as p53, which helps suppress cancer formation. (It’s the p53 protein that’s thought to give cancer immunity to elephants.) The trial will target non-small cell lung cancer and triple negative breast cancer.
  • In the fall, GHS will launch a trial that pairs the same cancer-detection/fighting medication used to treat former President Jimmy Carter’s brain cancer with a monoclonal antibody that’s thought to enhance immune function. That trial will target advanced solid tumors through the use of keytruda and an inhibitor called AMG 820. Edenfield called it the “onion trial” because, just like peeling an onion to get to the center, researchers will try to peel away the cancer’s protective mechanisms in order to reach its vulnerable cellular core.

Information on trials will be available on

The local summit is organized by the Cancer Support Community at GHS Cancer Center. It will be held on the second floor of the GHS Life Center on Wednesday, June 29.  The schedule is as follows:

8:30-9 a.m., Opening remarks and continental breakfast

9-9:30 a.m., Vice president Joe Biden’s live-streamed remarks

9:30-9:45 a.m., Discussion of survivorship – research studies and changing behaviors to increase quality of life and prevent relapse

9:45 – 10 a.m., Overview of new immunotherapies

10-10:30 a.m., Discussion of new clinical trials and how the direction of cancer treatment is changing

10:30-11:30 a.m., Physician-patient panel discussion and closing remarks

To attend, please pre-register by calling 455-5809.

The White House Cancer Moonshot Task Force, chaired by Biden, will focus on making the most of federal investments, targeted incentives, private sector efforts from industry and philanthropy, patient engagement initiatives and other mechanisms to support cancer research and enable progress in treatment and care.

The national summit, which brings together scientists, oncologists, donors and patients, is intended to galvanize Biden’s final-year push to double the pace of research toward curing cancer. The goal of the moonshot is to double the rate of progress toward a cancer cure – to essentially make a decade’s worth of advances in five years.

“At the GHS Cancer Institute, we share the vice president’s urgency to accelerate progress to prevent cancer, to detect it early, to ensure wide access to treatment and to encourage researchers to share data,” said Mark O’Rourke, the medical director of GHS’ Center for Integrative Oncology and Research. “The prospects have never been greater to make progress in controlling cancer and the vice president’s moonshot programs have the potential to make large steps forward for mankind.”

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