Research Discoveries

2015: UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center study shows dramatic trend of cost savings in lay navigation program for cancer patients. The Cancer Center launches two national clinical trials for lung cancer, the LUNG-MAP and The Adjuvant Lung Cancer Enrichment Marker Identification and Sequencing Trials, in which genetic screening is conducted to determine the genetic alterations that drive lung cancer and potentially could be inhibited by a molecularly targeted therapeutic.

2014: UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center forms cancer consortium with HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology in Huntsville. The center also launches its globalization and cancer initiative. Researchers in the UAB Division of Neuro-Oncology show that G207, a genetically modified herpes simplex virus, is safe when used in conjunction with radiation in the treatment of malignant gliomas.

2013: UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center unveils newly renovated Wallace Tumor Institute and installs TR24 Cyclotron, the most powerful of any academic medical center in the United States.

2012: A UAB study on brain tumors is hailed as one of the top clinical research advances of the year by the American Society of Clinical Oncology. The study was the first to implicate the deletion of a copy of a gene called NFKBIA as a contributing cause of glioblastoma.

2011: Researchers in the UAB Department of Radiation Oncology and the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Experimental Therapeutics Program found that using the drug cetuximab can induce a DNA repair defect in head and neck cancer cells, rendering the tumors susceptible to PARP inhibitors, which block enzymes that repair some types of DNA damage. This method prevents cancer cells from repairing the damage to the DNA as they grow, ultimately leading to cancer inhibition.

2010: Researchers in the UAB Department of Pathology discover a set of four biomarkers that help predict which patients are more likely to develop aggressive colorectal cancer and which are not. The findings also shed light on the genetics that result in worse colorectal cancer-treatment outcomes for African-Americans, compared with Caucasians.

2009: Leads study that finds a screening regimen that combines ultrasound and a blood test to detect the ovarian cancer marker CA125 fails to discover the disease in its early stages and often results in unnecessary surgery.

2009: UAB researchers find that a potent drug made from cottonseeds stopped the most lethal form of brain cancer for months in many patients enrolled.

2009: The UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center is awarded a prestigious $11.5-million SPORE (Specialized Program of Research Excellence) grant from the National Cancer Institute to study cervical cancer. The award is shared with Johns Hopkins University and the University of Colorado at Boulder.

2008: Implemented the Integrated Multidisciplinary Cancer Care Program, which brings together the various aspects of cancer treatment to provide a streamlined and more efficient process for patients and their families.

2008: Became the first in Alabama and the Southeast to offer da Vinci® robotic surgery for head and neck cancer patients. The Cancer Center was also the first in Alabama to offer robotic surgery for some cases of cervical cancer.

2008: The UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center became the first U.S. medical center to offer a speedier cancer radiation therapy. The new technique can turn a 20-minute radiotherapy session into a 90-second session for selected patients and saves healthy human tissue from unwanted radiation exposure at rates that are the same or better than other radiotherapy techniques.

2008: Boris Pasche, MD, PhD, Director of Division of Hematology/Oncology, discovers the first-ever genetic link between obesity and colon cancer risk, a finding that could lead to greater accuracy in testing for the disease.

2008: Patented a monoclonal antibody to death receptor 5 and carried out the first clinical trial with this reagent in patients with metastatic cancer.

2007: Edward Partridge, M.D., a lifelong Alabama resident and UAB faculty member of more than 30 years, is named director of the Cancer Center.

2007: One of only 11 institutions in the United States to receive renewal of the Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) grant in breast cancer. Three out of the four projects funded by the grant involve therapies and anti-cancer compounds developed at UAB.

2006: Scientists play an active role in the development of the first-ever vaccine proven to prevent cervical cancer.

2006: Established the Lynne Cohen Preventive Care Program for Women’s Cancers, which offers research, screening and clinical care for women at increased risk for ovarian and breast cancer.

2005: Researchers found that patients with JMML (Juvenile Myelomonocytic Leukemia) who received Zarnestra® experienced an “astounding” 60% response rate after only two months.

2004: Renewed as a “comprehensive” cancer center by the NCI after undergoing a rigorous external review process, placing the Cancer Center among the top research and treatment institutions in the nation. The Cancer Center has held the comprehensive designation since 1973.

2004: Became the first facility in Alabama, and only the 10th nationwide, to offer TomoTherapy, a highly advanced 3-D radiation system, for patients.

2004: Food and Drug Administration approved the use of Erbitux and Avastin for specific cancers.  The UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center was credited as a major patient registration site for the pivotal phase three clinical trials that helped both drugs win approval.

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