Emmy-nominated film features Providence patients, researchers in pursuit of revolutionary cancer therapy

In June 2022, Providence Cancer Institute researchers Rom Leidner, M.D., Eric Tran, Ph.D., and colleagues demonstrated the world’s first report of metastatic pancreatic cancer regression through adoptively transferred T-cell receptor gene-engineered T cells (TCR-T). They quickly launched a phase I clinical trial known as Hotspot TCR-T to further investigate the groundbreaking therapy.

"Within Reach: The Fight to Finish Cancer" is a documentary film produced by Providence Foundations of Oregon in partnership with Providence Cancer Institute and ZP Productions. It garnered a regional Emmy nomination by the Northwest chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

The film goes behind the scenes of the Providence Hotspot TCR-T study for patients with incurable epithelial cancers, following patient participants and the teams of researchers and clinicians working to create a revolutionary therapy for patients who have exhausted all other forms of treatment. Patient recruitment is now closed, and results of the study are under evaluation.

Within Reach: The Fight to Finish Cancer - Trailer from Providence Foundations on Vimeo.

To view the full documentary online, visit providencefoundations.org/withinreach.

‘Living drug’ for incurable epithelial cancers

T cells are a type of immune cell which, under the right circumstances, can recognize and attack cancer cells. T-cell transfer therapy is a form of adoptive cell therapy that enhances T cells in a laboratory so they can find and destroy cancer more effectively. While T-cell transfer therapy has been successful in treating some blood cancers, many solid cancers do not respond and continue to progress.

Drs. Tran and Leidner are studying whether T-cell transfer therapy using gene-engineered T cells can shrink solid cancers that are resistant to therapy.

These include epithelial cancers, known as carcinomas, that originate in the epithelial tissue found in the skin and organs throughout the body. They account for a broad array of the most common solid cancers – including breast, colon and lung – and are responsible for 85% of annual cancer deaths.

Through gene-engineered, adoptively transferred T cells, Drs. Tran and Leidner hope to create a living drug which could revolutionize care for patients with epithelial cancers. They are collaborating with several industry partners on breakthrough adoptive cell therapy studies for solid cancers. They hope to publish results of the Hotspot TCR-T study and open new trials in the near future.

Worldclass genomics and immunotherapy capabilities fuel research innovation

Earle A. Chiles Research Institute, a division of Providence Cancer Institute of Oregon, is among a limited number of centers in the world capable of developing, manufacturing and administering clinical grade adoptive cell therapy, a highly personalized type of immunotherapy. Our researchers work closely with Providence Genomics to improve patient outcomes through precision immuno-oncology.

Our robust clinical trial portfolio includes early phase trials (phase I/Ib and phase II), investigator-initiated trials, industry-sponsored studies and cooperative group trials available through the National Cancer Institute, SWOG and other sponsors.

Our early phase trials include dozens of multi-indication trials for malignant or advanced cancer, many types of cancer and multiple therapeutic approaches, such as immunotherapy combined with surgery and/or radiation. These also include early phase adoptive cell therapy studies for solid cancers, such as:

Additionally, we offer clinical trials for major organ and cancer conditions. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Breast cancer, which includes cancers of the connective tissue, lobules and ducts 
  • Endocrine cancer, which includes cancers of the thyroid and parathyroid glands 
  • Gastrointestinal cancer, which includes cancers of the bile duct, colon, esophagus, gallbladder, liver, pancreas, rectum and stomach 
  • Genitourinary cancer, which includes cancers of the bladder, kidney and prostate 
  • Gynecologic cancer, which includes cancers of the cervix, ovary, uterus, vagina and vulva 
  • Head and neck cancer, which includes cancers of the larynx, oral cavity, pharynx, salivary glands, sinuses and tongue 
  • Hematologic cancer, which includes cancers of the blood such as leukemia, lymphoma, myelodysplastic syndromes and myeloma 
  • Lung cancer, which include small cell and non-squamous non-small cell carcinomas 
  • Metastatic cancer, which includes multiple types of cancer that are advanced or have progressed after therapy 
  • Neurological cancer, which includes cancers of the brain and spine such as glioblastoma 
  • Skin cancer, which includes melanoma and carcinomas of the basal cells, Merkel cells and squamous cells 

More studies will be opening soon and many studies are available for more than one type of cancer. Email our clinical research team for more information about our available trials.

For more information

To learn more about clinical trials, visit research.providence.org where you can:

To contact our clinical research team,

  • Email us at canrsrchstudies@providence.org. Email is our preferred method of contact for the timeliest response.
  • If email is not an option, leave a voice message at 503-215-1979. Please note we are receiving a high volumes of calls and responses may be delayed.

To support our research and make a donation,

We are grateful for the support of our generous donors and to our patients who participate in clinical studies. With your support, we can finish cancer, together.

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