iCureASPS Supports Three Clinical Projects at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute

Cure Alveolar Soft Part Sarcoma (iCureASPS) is currently supporting three initiatives that hopefully will bring us closer to the day when a cure for Alveolar Soft Part Sarcoma is a reality.

Here is a progress report on those projects.

1. The GVAX clinical trial – Opened on January 2006, the first cancer vaccine trial for ASPS is still open and continues to recruit more patients. This tumor vaccine is tailored for each patient based on his/her own tumor. The GVAX technology was developed by Glenn Dranoff, M.D., Director of the Human Gene Transfer Laboratory Core, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Co-Leader Cancer Vaccine Center, Department of Medical Oncology, Dana-Farber, Harvard Medical School. In the current trial, Dr. Dranoff incorporates experience that he accumulated over 10 years of cancer vaccine studies in patients with metastatic melanoma and lung cancer. This clinical trial is led by Dr. Glenn Dranoff, Dr. Steve Hodi, and Dr. John Goldberg.

2. The creation of an Alveolar Soft Part Sarcoma tumor transplant in mice (NEW PROJECT) – Many new cancer therapies are developed and tested in clinical trials. How could one predict the efficacy of a drug against ASPS? The goal of this project is to grow ASPS tumor fragments in mice. The resulting ASPS tumors can then be propagated in more mice and used as a preclinical model to test candidate drugs.
This project is led by Massimo Loda, M.D., Professor of Pathology, Harvard Medical School, Dana Farber Cancer Institute. In his lab, Dr. Ewa Sicinska, Dr. Carmen Priolo and Dr. Joseph Brito make up the team working on this project. We encourage ASPS patients who are operated at the Dana Farber to donate their fresh tumors to the Massimo lab. More material obtained means better chances for successful transplant lines.

3. Identification of Kinase Inhibitors that target ASPS (New PROJECT) – During the last few years, much progress on understanding the biology of ASPS was made through studies that were done in the laboratory of David Fisher MD, PhD, Director Melanoma Program in Medical Oncology & Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Children’s Hospital Boston, Harvard Medical School, in collaboration with John Goldberg, MD, Fellow in Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Children’s Hospital Boston. In this study Dr. Fisher and Dr. Goldberg will try to identify “weak links” in ASPS that can be targeted by kinase inhibitors.

Following is a message from Dr. Fisher and Dr. Goldberg to the iCureASPS community:

“Dear iCureASPS and supporters,

We at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute would like to express our gratitude for your support of our efforts to find a cure for alveolar soft part sarcoma, and we applaud your participation in the Pan Mass Challenge. We share your goal of bringing laboratory based findings into clinical trials as rapidly as possible for this insidious cancer. Over the coming year, our efforts will focus on targeting specific molecular switches that research has demonstrated to be potential weak points in ASPS. The first action will be to initiate a specific clinical trial with a biotechnology company to treat ASPS with a targeted kinase inhibitor. While there is no guarantee that any one targeted agent will help ASPS, we are working with many companies to insure that no stone goes unturned in our quest for a cure and that no weapon is left behind in this effort. These trials will involve both treating the patient and learning as much as possible from them to improve the future protocols. Both laboratory and clinical research are heavily resource dependent, but our patients need new therapies and science is pointing the way to many promising options. Of course, we will continue to monitor the progress of patients who received study vaccine on DFCI 05-115 (The GVAX clinical trial), which is an ongoing project here. We will also continue our efforts to find new targets in these cancers in the laboratory through the analysis of upregulated genes and activated proteins.


John M. Goldberg, MD
David E. Fisher, MD, PhD”


Yosef Landesman, Ph.D.
President & Cancer Research Director
Cure Alveolar Soft Part Sarcoma International (iCureASPS)