The latest treatment options are available to patients, including access to both standard and investigational therapies. Over the course of their careers, most doctors will never encounter a case of adrenal cancer. The University of Michigan adrenal specialists typically see 10 to 15 adrenal cancer patients each week. The U-M Endocrine Oncology Program is the only program in the U.S. with sufficient patient volume to conduct a Phase II adrenal cancer trial. This fact has allowed a leading pharmaceutical company to partner with the U-M to launch one of the only large, multi-institutional Phase II trials for adrencal cancer.
Research is conducted through the University of Michigan’s Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Endocrine Oncology Program also headed by Dr. Gary Hammer. This program is fully integrated into the research infrastructure at Michigan, including expertise in cancer stem cell, stem cell and basic cancer biology. This makes it possible for investigators to explore the basic biology of adrenal growth, and to develop new treatments including targeted biological-based therapies with the potential to attack cancer cells while sparing healthy tissue.
Dr. Hammer and the U-M team have increasingly been approached to coordinate collaborative research with academic institutions and pharmaceutical companies around the world. Such partnerships are essential when tackling a rare cancer. As a direct result of research efforts and collaborations centered at Michigan, three new clinical trial protocols in adrenal cancer are currently open and available to patients at the UMCCC- an unparalleled volume of activity to be focused on such a rare disease.
Ongoing research includes studying the genetics and stem cell biology of adrenal cancer, identifying novel genetic mutations and signaling pathways that could ultimately lead to targeted therapies. Because the adrenal gland shares an embryological origin with the testes and ovaries, this research could lead to better understanding of those cancer types as well.
(Adrenal Cancer Program Brochure, University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, 2010)