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Meet the 2017 Finalists!


Dr. Chris Lominska, MD 

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Institution: University of Kansas Medical Center

Project Title: Combining the Rheumatoid Arthritis Agent Auranofin with Radiation Therapy to Improve Outcomes in Patients with Rectal Cancer

Project Description: Auranofin is an oral, gold-containing agent used for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, which has anticancer activity in a variety of tumor types. The research team has performed a series of preclinical studies showing that auranofin sensitizes colorectal cancer to radiotherapy while protecting adjacent healthy tissues. They propose a clinical trial to provide proof of concept that auranofin improves outcomes in rectal cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy.


 Dr. Michael Spiotto, MD, PhD

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Institution: University of Chicago

Project Title: Feasibility of Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs to Enhance Radiotherapy of Head and Neck Cancers

Project Description: Patients with advanced head and neck cancers are often treated with concomitant radiation and chemotherapy, yet have cure rates approximating 50%. The research team found retrospective data indicating that one class of cholesterol-lowering drugs, known as statins, improved local disease control after radiation therapy. Here, they propose a clinical trial to assess the feasibility of repurposing statin drugs as radiosensitizers in patients with head and neck cancer.


Dr. Paul Swiecicki, MD

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Institution: University of Michigan

Project Title: Old Drugs As New Therapies For Metastatic Thyroid Cancer

 Project Description: Metastatic thyroid cancer is an incurable malignancy for which there are limited effective therapies. Based on the knowledge gained from the genetic sequencing of thyroid cancer, the research team proposes a clinical trial evaluating if the combination of the repurposed drugs sirolimus and cyclophosphamide is an effective combination in metastatic thyroid cancer.


Dr. Bakhos Tannous, PhD


Institution: Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital

Project Title: Human Clinical Trial to Evaluate a Novel Combination of Drugs to Dramatically Increase Glioblastoma Survival Rates

Project Description: Every year nearly 10,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with glioblastomas (GBM), the most common and aggressive type of brain tumors in adults, whose five-year survival rate is less than ten percent. Mouse studies suggest that combining the FDA-approved drug hydroxyurea with temozolomide, the current chemotherapy of choice for GBM, can increase the survival rate of GBM and perhaps eliminate tumors completely.



Dr. Stephen Wong, PhD

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Institution: Houston Methodist Research Institute

Project Title: Repurposed Cardiac Glycosides to Treat Children with Central Nervous System Tumors

Project Description: Medulloblastoma is the most common malignant brain tumor of childhood, and overall it accounts for approximately 20% of all pediatric brain tumors. The research team will test a heart failure drug, digoxin, in patients with recurrent pediatric high-grade glioma and medulloblastoma to identify the toxicity, efficacy and the potential drug mechanisms of action.




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