Children, adolescents and young adults with cancers that do not respond to traditional treatments continue to find new treatment options because of CHOC’s extensive efforts and active engagement in clinical trial research.
The Hyundai Cancer Institute at CHOC is a member of the Children’s Oncology Group (COG) and one of only 21 elite facilities in North America and three in California that has received a prestigious Phase 1 clinical trial designation to offer COG’s investigational, potentially promising and innovative clinical trials. COG is the most experienced organization in the world when it comes to the research and development of new therapeutics for children and adolescents with cancer.
“I’ve witnessed the dramatic progress made in the survival of our pediatric patients because of clinical trials,” says Dr. Ivan Kirov, medical director of oncology and the Hyundai Cancer Institute at CHOC. “Clinical trials are the mortar behind our successes here at CHOC.”
CHOC currently offers more than 140 clinical trials in varying phases, including multiple pharmaceutical industry-sponsored clinical trials. Besides membership in COG, CHOC is also a member of the Therapeutic Advances in Childhood Leukemia & Lymphoma consortium (TACL), which offers novel treatments in Phase 1 studies for childhood leukemia and lymphoma; the Lymphoma consortium; and the UC Children, Adolescent and Young Adults Cancer Consortium, which includes all of the University of California pediatric oncology programs.
Among the research at CHOC is an upcoming clinical trial for the treatment of diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG), a highly aggressive and one of the most difficult-to-treat childhood tumors.
“We are in the process of opening and initiating this clinical trial which, in my opinion, will be extremely important for patients in the future,” Dr. Kirov says. “DIPG is a brainstem tumor which is universally deadly, and very few patients survive more than a year, or even six months. CHOC, the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston and Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago are the only three sites where this new study will be offered. This study will explore a new vaccine for the treatment of DIPG in combination with checkpoint inhibitors. We’re hoping this study will be open in the next several months to offer hope to patients with this disease.”
While clinical research is fundamental to advancing pediatric oncology treatments, Dr. Kirov said the trials themselves are only part of CHOC’s comprehensive approach to helping children and young adults survive cancer.
“These cutting-edge medications and products we are testing, including new targeting agents, monoclonal antibodies and various types of small molecules and vaccines, for example, require an extremely strong supportive and clinical research infrastructure, which CHOC can offer,” says Dr. Kirov. “Our highly educated clinical research coordinators, physicians-scientists, nurses, educators, pharmacists, and other professionals, along with our unparalleled supportive services for both patients and their families, such as social workers, psychologists, child life specialists, palliative care experts and spiritual services, make our patients’ experiences at CHOC unique, and I think this is why CHOC truly stands out. In fact, many patients who come to CHOC for Phase 1 studies express their desire to stay here even after the study is completed, which really speaks very highly of CHOC and the continuum of care and support we provide to young patients and their families.”
CHOC Hospital was named one of the nation’s best children’s hospitals by U.S. News & World Report in its 2020-21 Best Children’s Hospitals rankings and ranked in the cancer specialty.