AURORA, Colo.—Lung cancer patient Michael Moore got a dose of good news on Monday. He learned that a clinical trial drug, which has helped him and other patients, received “breakthrough therapy” designation from the Federal Drug Administration.
“Life doesn’t end when you have cancer,” said Moore, who has been fighting the disease for two years and has received care at Anschutz Medical Campus since December. “This has given me hope—so that’s good. When you have cancer, hope is the biggest thing.”
A group of pioneering Coloradans met at University of Colorado Hospital (UCH) on Monday to recognize how the speeding of drug approvals by the FDA can potentially deliver life-saving results for cancer patients. They represent a combination of medical expertise, biotech entrepreneurship and political perseverance that are at the center of Moore’s hope.
Sen. Michael Bennet (D), who wrote the “breakthrough therapy” bill, visited with Moore and his physician, Dr. D. Ross Camidge, MD, PhD, associate director for clinical research at the University of Colorado Cancer Center. Patrick Mahaffy, president and CEO of Boulder-based Clovis Oncology, which developed the clinical trial drug, CO-1686, also joined the gathering at UCH.
Camidge, associate professor of medicine/oncology and director of the Thoracic Oncology Clinical Program in the CU School of Medicine, said he is treating about 20 lung cancer patients with CO-1686. “We are one of the major centers for doing lung cancer trials in the country, if not the world,” he said.
Camidge showed Bennet X-rays of a patient’s lungs after treatment with the drug. Tumors showed noticeable reduction in size, even disappearance, after several weeks on the therapy.