Thursday, April 9, 2009 | 1:40 p.m.
Map of Nevada Cancer Institute
One Breakthrough Way, Las Vegas
A new cancer drug studied in clinical trials by a Nevada Cancer Institute doctor has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Dr. Nicholas Vogelzang, professor and chief of genitourinary oncology, led the study of Afinitor tablets, a kidney drug for patients with advanced renal cell carcinoma, which is cancer that arises in the lining of internal organs. Doctors would turn to this medicine after other drugs failed.
“What this means for kidney cancer patients, not only locally but nationally, is that there is another treatment option available for them when other regimens have not been successful,” said Dr. James Symanowski, senior biostatistician and interim head of the institute’s Clinical Trials Office.
Afinitor, created by the pharmaceutical company Novartis, is the first FDA-approved, once-daily pill treatment that targets a protein inside the cancer cell that controls tumor cell division and blood vessel growth.
The Nevada Cancer Institute, 1 Breakthrough Way in Summerlin, was one of the sites that tested this new drug on four Las Vegas patients.
Randy Irwin was one of those patients. He said he was excited to take part in a clinical trial that brought the drug to approval.
“It makes me proud that I was able to help others, both now and in the future,” he said.
Vogelzang said clinical trials such as those at the institute allow Nevadans access to the latest in cancer treatment.
In the U.S., kidney cancer accounts for about 3 percent of all adult cancers. Renal cell carcinoma is the most common type of kidney cancer, with rates rising steadily around the world due in part to smoking and obesity. About 54,000 new cases developed in the U.S. in 2008, and more than 13,000 people died from the disease.
For more information, visit www.nevadacancerinstitute.org or call 822-LIFE.