Op-ed: Basic research at UC and Children's led to trial of a promising brain cancer drug

Posted at 10:00 AM, Aug 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-11 10:00:18-04

Dr. Thomas Herzog is clinical director of the University of Cincinnati Cancer Institute and a professor in the Division of Gynecologic Oncology at the UC College of Medicine.

Dr. William Barrett is a professor and chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology, UC College of Medicine and  director of the UC Cancer Institute

The hope for every medical scientist and physician is to make a positive difference in patients’ outcomes and quality of their lives. However, this laudable goal may take decades of painstaking laboratory bench and clinical research. Many efforts result in findings that are not translatable into patient benefit.

Dr. Thomas Herzog

This goal of potential patient benefit was recently realized by University of Cincinnati researcher Dr. Xiaoyang Qi, a UC College of Medicine faculty and UC Cancer Institute member who saw his laboratory discoveries advance to the stage where they can finally be tested in patients with cancer.

On July 18, Bexion Pharmaceuticals announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration cleared its application for a first-in-human Phase I clinical trial with the compound BXQ-350 for treatment of advanced solid tumors and glioblastoma multiforme, an extremely deadly and common type of brain cancer.

Dr. William Barrett

Locally, the trial will be conducted within the Phase I Experimental Therapeutics Program at UC -- the only program of its kind locally -- and led by Dr. John Morris, who is also a College of Medicine faculty and UC Cancer Institute member.

He discovered the combination of two natural, cellular components, called SapC-DOPS, that could cause cell death in human cancer cells while sparing normal cells. This led to his partnership with Bexion to create the BXQ-350 compound.

We want to congratulate Dr. Qi for his perseverance, dedication and a true desire to help others, especially considering the current challenges of securing research funding.

Dr. Xiaoyang Qi

This process -- from a discovery in a lab to a partnership with industry, and now, an actual exploratory therapy for patients -- is emblematic of the strengths that an academic medical center like the University of Cincinnati and its affiliate partners at Cincinnati Children’s and UC Health can provide. This rigorous discovery process will potentially help our patients medically, our community economically, and could potentially impact thousands of patients with this cancer globally.

We often talk about “translational” research, where findings in the lab are transformed into patient care. This potential breakthrough is a shining example of what we’re striving to do each and every day.