Members of the TumorGraft Trial Team at Monmouth Medical Center include, seated from left, Mark Hirko, M.D., chairman of surgery; David Sharon, M.D., medical director of the Leon Hess Cancer Center at Monmouth; Seth Cohen, M.D., medical director of oncology clinical research; Robert Braun, system vice president, oncology; and breast surgeon Renee Georges, M.D.; and standing from left, Michael Goldfarb, M.D., program director for surgery; Kimberly Chow, oncology clinical research coordinator; Deanna Tiggs, director, Oncology Data Center; breast surgeon Aron Gornish, M.D.; and Kristy Lupo, oncology research nurse. (Monmouth Medical Center)

Monmouth Medical Center has joined with Champions Oncology to launch a research clinical trial aimed at developing personalized approaches to improve breast-cancer treatment.

Monmouth is the first site in New Jersey offering access to a groundbreaking research trial that will use a leading-edge treatment model called Champions TumorGraft developed by Hackensack-based Champions Oncology. By removing a piece of a patient's tumor and growing it in multiple mice, the trial seeks to better predict which drugs are most effective in treating individual tumors.

"All tumors are different - even those that appear the same - so drugs that work for some patients don't work for others," said Seth Cohen, M.D, Medical Director, Oncology Clinical Research at Monmouth Medical Center. "This trial is very exciting because it will potentially enable patients to get the most effective medications for their particular type of tumor, and more lives will be saved."

Trial participants receive the TumorGraft testing - which could cost thousands of dollars - for free, and potentially identify the most effective treatment for their cancer. This model is a form of personalized medicine - initiatives that identify the most effective treatments for individual people. Eligible participants will be able to enroll in the trial through Monmouth Medical Center beginning end of November.

Upon being selected for inclusion in the trial, a small piece of a patient's tumor that is removed during surgery will be implanted by Champions Oncology into a group of immune-deficient mice. Champions will treat the mice from each patient with different oncology drugs and measure which drugs are most effective against the tumors. This information will be used to personalize the choice of drugs that will be used to treat that specific patient. The Champions TumorGraft process - from implantation in the mice through testing - typically takes four to eight months. While the patient awaits the possible results of the TumorGrafting, the patient will continue to receive standard medical treatment from their treating physician.

To be eligible for the trial, patients must require surgical removal of a malignant breast tumor as part of their standard treatment. Patients must also meet at least one of the following criteria:
·         Breast cancer that has spread (metastasized) to a different part of the body.
·         The tumor initially tested negative for ER, PR, and HER2 (Estrogen receptors, progesterone receptors, and the protein HER2 that controls cancer growth and spread. Estrogen and progesterone receptors are found in breast-cancer cells that depend on estrogen and related hormones to grow. These tumor features may change between primary tumors and metastatic tumors.)
·         The tumor initially tested positive for HER2.
·         The tumor was treated with chemotherapy prior to surgery and remains malignant.

"This partnership is part of Monmouth Medical Center's continuing commitment to be on the forefront of cancer care. We look forward to helping patients both locally and globally through this important research," said Dr. Cohen.

For more information on the trial or to apply to participate, contact Kimberly Chow at the Leon Hess Cancer Center's Oncology Clinical Research Program, 732-923-6564.