Research and Clinical Trials
Our basic scientists, clinical researchers, epidemiologists
and cancer specialists are working to discover innovative ways to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer. Because of this, we
can provide our patients with the unique opportunity to
participate in research studies developed by our own faculty as
well as national clinical trials.
Our outstanding basic science program is complemented by a
growing emphasis on translational research – those critical
efforts to “translate” laboratory discoveries into new knowledge
and new therapies – and a robust clinical research program,
which gives patients access to promising new therapies.
The Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center is committed to bringing
new research findings from the “bench to the bedside.”
Here are some of our pioneering research
initiatives that hold enormous promise for tomorrow’s cures:
Bone Neoplasia Program
This program is
Ph.D. The group is comprised of faculty from multiple
disciplines and interacts with the Musculoskeletal Signature
Program. The Bone Program is organized to understand primary bone
tumorigenesis and secondary metastasis to bone in the context of
normal bone development and remodeling. Bone is both a storage
source of cytokines critical to tumorigenesis and an important
developmental process. It is also the only developmental process
that is regulated by gravitational stress and loading.
storage source of cytokines, bone is an important site of metastasis
for breast and prostate as well as other types of cancer. Both
breast and prostate cancer subvert normal bone signaling pathways to
facilitate their metastatic phenotype. Primary bone tumorigenesis
appears to arise as a result of the deregulation of the normal bone
developmental process. A better understanding of the normal
regulatory processes that take place during bone remodeling, a time
during which rapid proliferation of osteoblasts and osteoclasts
occurs, and the role of the extracellular matrix laid down during
bone development will improve our understanding of these same
processes that are unregulated during both primary tumorigenesis as
well as secondary metastasis.
Cancer Immunology Program
This program is led by
Pramod Srivastava, Ph.D.,
and includes doctorally-prepared scientists and physician-scientists engaged in basic and
Investigators in the Center for Immunotherapy
of Cancer and Infectious Disease study basic mechanisms of immune response, and their application to
treatment of cancers. The research addresses NK cell function, T cell
priming, induction of tolerance, innate immunity, antigen processing and
This program serves as the paradigm for translational research. There are
vaccine trials in CML, ovarian cancer, renal cell, melanoma and cervical
Genetics/Developmental Biology Program
This program is led by
Ph.D. There are several doctorally-prepared scientist engaged in basic
research and clinical service throughout the Genomics and Molecular Cores.
The Gene Targeting and Transgenic Facility is focused on the development of
mouse models of human disease.
Departmental faculty also supervises an
institutional Genomics Core comprised of a cDNA microarray core facility and
a Molecular Core. The Microarray Core facility provides access to a
state-of-the-art technology for gene expression profiling, a powerful tool
for simultaneous monitoring of the expression levels for very large sets of
genes. The Molecular Core offers full service automated DNA sequencing.
Molecular Medicine Program
This program is led by
Arnold, M.D. There are several doctorally-prepared faculty engaged in human disease-oriented laboratory research
in the Center for Molecular Medicine.
Dr. Arnold's laboratory investigates the molecular genetic basis of tumors
of the endocrine glands. The cyclin D1 oncogene, initially discovered by Dr.
Arnold in parathyroid tumors, has a broad role in human cancer and its
action in breast cancer is specifically being investigated. Dr. Arnold's
laboratory is also pursuing their recent discovery of the major genetic
basis of parathyroid gland cancers.
Dr. Jennifer Tirnauer is
uniquely merging her scientific expertise in microtubule and cytoskeletal
biology with her commitment to cancer research, and is investigating the
role of microtubule defects in the abnormal cellular architecture found in
breast and colon cancer, among others.
Dr. Marc Hansen
investigates the molecular basis of tumors of bone, including study of a new
tumor suppressor gene discovered in his laboratory. Center for Molecular
Dr. Anne Delany
participates in the Bone Program as well, and is investigating the molecular
mechanisms by which tumors, particularly prostate cancer, metastasize to
Dr. Daniel Rosenberg is
active in colon cancer research, as further described in the Molecular GI
Oral Oncology Program
The Oral Oncology research program is centered in the School of Dental
Medicine and Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center. Laboratory and clinical
studies are being conducted relative to causes and treatment of oral cancer
as well as management of effects of high-dose cancer therapies on the mouth.
The collaboration includes clinical and research faculty and staff in the
School of Dental Medicine, School of Medicine and Graduate School at UConn Health, as well as researchers from the Graduate School at
This multiprofessional approach continues to identify novel ways to
successfully manage cancer patients. Patients treated in the Neag
Comprehensive Cancer Center
may qualify for participation in state-of-the-science oral oncology clinical
trials in this context. The research model is directly linked to the
University of Connecticut research mission that in turn is designed to
improve the health of Connecticut citizens.
Vascular Biology Program
The Center for Vascular Biology conducts state-of-the-art research in
the area of tumor angiogenesis, lipid mediators, signal transduction,
vascular proteomics, post-transcriptional gene expression, vascular
developmental biology and cell invasion/metastasis.
Cancer Vaccine Clinical Study for Patients
with Ovarian Cancer
Angela Kueck, M.D.
UConn Health is planning to initiate a clinical
study for patients with advanced stage (stage III
or IV) ovarian cancer, in which
personalized cancer vaccines will be developed
for each patient. Blood and cancer samples will be obtained from
patients at the time of surgery, compared, and vaccines will be made based on the
genetic differences between the blood and cancer
samples. The patients shall get the vaccines by an
injection in an outpatient setting, once every month for
6 months, after they have undergone surgery and
An application for approval of this study has been
filed with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). We
expect a response from the FDA by the end of
October 2014. If the response is positive, an application will be submitted to the
UConn Institutional Review Board (IRB) to initiate the
study. If all approvals are received, we will be able to start
accruing patients in December 2014. If there is a delay
in approvals, either from the FDA or UConn IRB, the
patient accrual will be correspondingly delayed, perhaps
by an additional 1 to 2 months. We will keep the website
updated with the
most current information concerning this study.
In the News