Renal Cell Carcinoma Focus of Clinical Trial

Untitled2094McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty member Michael Lotze, PhD, professor of surgery and bioengineering, vice chair of research within the Department of Surgery, assistant vice chancellor in the six schools of the health sciences at Pitt, and director of strategic partnerships within the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute as well as the Catalyst Program within the recently funded Clinical and Translational Research Institute, is the principal investigator of an ongoing clinical trial focused on renal cell carcinoma (RCC).  The main goal of the research study is to determine whether treating renal cell cancer patients with the study drug, hydroxychloroquine, along with IL-2, a standard treatment of kidney cancer that has spread to other parts of the body, can make the cancer easier to kill and eliminate. Another goal is to see how the study drug affects the body’s immune cells which fight cancer cells.

The rationale for combining the high dose bolus aldesleukin with hydroxychloroquine includes potential positive interactions on the immune regulatory side, non-overlapping toxicities, and potential for prolongation and increased number of responses based on pre-clinical studies conducted at the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Lotze and McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine faculty member Donna Stolze, PhD, associate director of the Center for Biologic Imaging and associate professor in the Department of Cell Biology and Physiology at the University of Pittsburgh, are among the authors of the pre-clinical study’s results recently published in the journal, Cancer Research.

The ongoing clinical study is a multi-center phase II study designed to estimate the efficacy of combination therapy of standard high dose bolus IL-2 and various doses of hydroxychloroquine therapy in metastatic RCC patients.

“What’s new is our understanding of autophagy,” Dr. Lotze said. “Our innovation was to marry tumor immunology to autophagy.”

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Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Study of Hydroxychloroquine and Aldesleukin in Renal Cell Carcinoma Patients (RCC)

Abstract (Inhibiting autophagy during interleukin 2 immunotherapy promotes long term tumor regression.  Liang X, de Vera ME, Buchser WJ, Romo de Vivar Chavez A, Loughran P, Beer-Stolz D, Basse P, Wang T, van Houten B, Zeh HJ, Lotze M.  Cancer Research; online 2012 April 3.)