The David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA is ranked third in the U.S. in research dollars and ninth in research funding from the NIH. The UCLA Institute of Urologic Oncology has one of the largest and most diverse urologic oncology research programs in the nation.
The UCLA Institute of Urologic Oncology is committed to ongoing Bladder Cancer research in a quest to develop new treatments and cures for all bladder cancer patients, along with a commitment to educate and train the next generation of leading physician-scientists.
The UCLA IUO is conducting pioneering basic (bench) research, cutting-edge translational research (bench to bedside) and offering newly-designed clinical trials.
Studying the role of a novel class of genes called microRNAs, and specifically the role of microRNA-21 in bladder cancer.
Dr. Nicolas Donin, UCLA urologic oncologist, is working with Dr. Karim Chamir, assistant professor UCLA urology, to investigate the use of a novel aqueous hydrogel polymer for the treatment of upper tract urothelial carcinoma (UTUC).
This novel agent has unique biophysical properties, in that at body temperature it exists as a viscous gel. When cooled down to zero degrees, it liquifies. This "reverse thermal gelation" means that the gel can be instilled into the upper urinary tract as a liquid, but as it makes contact with the tissues, it will rapidly warm to body temperature and gelatinize within the urinary tract. Because it is hydrophilic, the gel is slowly dissolved with the natural production of urine. This novel gel could be combined with various agents, including topical chemotherapy agents, which could be delivered to the upper urinary tract, resulting in prolonged sustained release of these agents at the site of UTUC tumors.
There are numerous unanswered questions regarding the safety and feasibility of the above treatment strategy. The UCLA Institute of Urologic Oncology has recently completed a 3-phase preclinical investigation in a porcine animal model, the goal of which was to evaluate the clinical and pathologic effects of both single and repeated instillations of this novel agent into the upper urinary tract. The results of their study demonstrated that the gel could be feasibly delivered in both single and serial doses, no obstruction of the urinary tract was evidence, and there appear to be no adverse affects on renal function or other laboratory parameters. These findings have been recently published in high-impact peer-reviewed Urology journals, and were presented to the FDA as part of development of this new technology for use in humans.
As a result of these encouraging findings, the FDA have approved a multicenter international clinical trial investigating this new technology for use in humans with UTUC. Patient accrual will begin in the coming year.
Accomplishing translational research goals requires a team-based approach with input from our urologic oncologists, medical oncologists, scientists here at UCLA, and from our collaborators at other institutions and those in biotech. We’re not only looking to improve the treatments themselves, but we’re also figuring out better ways to deliver treatment to our patients.
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