The USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center has been designated a Phase I Clinical Trial Center of Excellence by the pharmaceutical company Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.
The collaboration will bring a number of new phase I clinical trials to USC Norris and will enable the center’s clinical and basic scientists to provide guidance in early phase drug development and trial design.
“The main mission of this partnership is drug development,” said Anthony El-Khoueiry, assistant professor of clinical medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and director of the phase I drug development clinical program at USC Norris. “This will enable us to expand options for our patients and provide them with the earliest possible access to new drugs.”
USC Norris is one of 39 centers in the United States designated as “comprehensive” by the National Cancer Institute.
Basic and clinical researchers are dedicated to studying the origins and prevention of cancer and developing novel therapies for the disease.
The center currently enrolls approximately 150 patients per year in phase I clinical trials, which test the safety and efficacy of promising new drugs and therapies.
Patients who enter phase I trials have usually tried the standard treatments and may benefit more from new treatments and novel drug compounds, El-Khoueiry said.
USC Norris is among a handful of global sites and one of two in the United States to be selected for this designation from the pharmaceutical company.
The selection was based on several factors, including the quality of the investigators and research staff, the clinical research infrastructure and the ability of the clinician-scientists to be active partners in the design of the clinical and translational research studies.
“The recognition is based on our expertise in clinical trials, early drug development and pharmacogenomics at USC Norris,” said Heinz-Josef Lenz, associate director for clinical research and co-leader of the Gastrointestinal Cancers Program at USC Norris.
The clinical studies conducted at USC Norris will cover a range of cancers, including blood cancers and solid tumors.