3rd Research & Compliance Conference
Tuesday, April 29, 2014
12:30 p.m. - 4 p.m.
Rushmore Plaza Holiday Inn, Dakota Ballroom
The 3rd Research and Compliance Conference features special guest, Dr. Dennis Slamon.
Who Should Attend
Everyone knows someone who has had cancer. Join us for this free conference to learn more about breast cancer research.
For more information about the Regional Health Research and Compliance Conference, call Deb at (605) 755-9020.
Submit a Question
We encourage questions for Dr. Slamon.
Please submit question here
Living Proof is a 2008 Lifetime Television movie, starring Harry Connick, Jr. based on the true life story of Dr. Dennis Slamon.
If you would like to watch "Living Proof" prior to the conference, please contact Deb Ross at (605) 755-9020 to check out a copy.
Meet Dr. Dennis Slamon
Dennis Slamon's work on the discovery of the HER-2 gene alteration in breast cancer, its association with disease outcome, and the therapies targeting HER-2-positive breast cancer serve as a paradigm for translational cancer research. In this paradigm, physician-scientists like Dr. Slamon translate laboratory findings directly into treatments in the clinic.
His past and present efforts involve identifying important molecular genetic mutations in human disease and demonstrating their effects on growth and progression of disease. In the case of HER-2, he used the knowledge he gathered in the laboratory to create a drug called Herceptin (generic name: trastuzumab) that used HER-2 as a target in breast cancer cells. He directly generated or participated in the Phase I, II, and III clinical trials leading to Herceptin's approval, and his laboratory designed the Phase I and II trials. Herceptin was the first drug of its kind, a monoclonal antibody, to be used to target cancer cells by zeroing in on a genetic mutation.
Twenty-five to thirty percent women diagnosed with breast cancer test positive for the HER-2 non-inherited genetic mutation. Dr. Slamon's group found that these women had significantly shorter disease-free and overall survival on standard therapy. This work initially sparked controversy between supporters and naysayers. Dr. Slamon persisted and his observations were confirmed by several groups.
Next, the Slamon laboratory began studies to determine whether HER-2 was simply an indicator of a worse prognosis or if it directly affected cancer growth and progression. Their studies demonstrated that when HER-2 was present it changed several biologic parameters of breast cancer cells, which increased their growth rate, increased tumor aggressiveness, increased their ability to spread (metastasize) and altered dependence on and response to hormones. These data provided direct evidence that HER-2 had increased growth of aggressive cancer.
With these data, Dr. Slamon sought whether the mutation could be an effective drug target. He demonstrated that several antibodies could inhibit the growth of cancer cells that overexpressed HER-2. He then sought to know how antibodies might be used with standard therapy. His laboratory was first to show that anti-HER-2 antibodies were more effective when used with several different chemotherapy drugs.
Most recently, the Slamon laboratory published the first studies demonstrating the synergistic effects of anti-HER-2 antibodies combined with radiation therapy. These studies found that while Herceptin inhibits cancer growth, combining it with other standard treatments was far superior to using it alone. Dr. Slamon's pioneering work is the basis for how most breast cancer treatment is done.
The first Herceptin Phase I studies by Dr. Slamon at UCLA began in April 1991 and involved approximately 20 patients. In 1995, the pivotal Phase III registrational studies overseen by Dr. Slamon led to the approval of the drug by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on September 25, 1998.
Women given Herceptin alone after chemotherapy failure had observable reduction of their cancers with little or no side effects, but women given Herceptin with chemotherapy had significantly improved disease, which confirmed earlier test results.
The data from the pivotal randomized Phase III trial of 469 women with HER-2 positive advanced breast cancer showed that when Herceptin was added to traditional therapy, 53% of patients had measurable improvements in their cancers, 58% had longer lasting improvements, and 65% had longer times before their cancer grew again.
These data were enough to win approval for the drug, but even more significant (in contrast to other targeted therapies), the Herceptin combination showed a survival advantage for HER-2 positive women, who had a 29% decreased risk of death from cancer after five years. This was the greatest impact of a single drug on survival in advanced breast cancer in the last four-and-a-half decades.
Next came tests of Herceptin in early breast cancer, where the Slamon laboratory's research predicted it would have its greatest impact. Dr. Slamon led one of four major worldwide trials of the drug in these women. In 2005, results from the first studies became public, and all four trials, over 13,000 women, found that Herceptin given at initial diagnosis in early breast cancer reduced cancer recurrence by 50%, an unprecedented result. Most recently Dr. Slamon published the six-year follow-up data showing the durability of these significant improvements in The New England Journal of Medicine (October 2011).
All of these preclinical and clinical data convincingly demonstrated for the first time that a gene mutation that effects cancer growth and progression can be targeted successfully with more effective therapies with less side effects than had been thought possible. Dr. Slamon's work shows that basic molecular genetic, molecular biologic, cellular, and preclinical animal research can be translated into development of effective cancer drugs.
Dr. Slamon continues his research efforts to help women with HER-2-positive breast cancer, while expanding his efforts to develop new therapies for two other major breast cancer subtypes, hormone-receptor-positive (ER+) (approximately 60% of global breast cancer patients) and triple-negative breast cancer (15% to 20% of patients).
His laboratory recently published startlingly encouraging Phase II clinical trial results on the effects of a drug called palbociclib for ER+ breast cancer, which has led to another global Phase III study led by the Slamon group that began in the first quarter of 2013.
Dr. Slamon's recent work also has extended to evaluating potential new therapies for ovarian cancer based on preclinical results from his laboratory. In these studies he has found evidence that the insulin-like growth factor and its receptor (IGF-1/IGF-1R) may have a large contributory effect in driving the most aggressive subtype of the disease. These laboratory results are now in Phase II trials in women with advanced ovarian cancer.
With his characteristic charisma and determination, Dr. Slamon has made contributions to medicine that garnered him selection this year as a Thomson Reuters Citation Laureate, a group selected by the IP & Science business of Thomson Reuters to indicate an analytical prediction of possible Nobel Prize winners.