A Medical Device Daily

Washington's Life Sciences Discovery Fund (Seattle) has awarded $2.2 million to establish a formal Phase I clinical trials program to test new therapies for solid tumors at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (Seattle).

The grant is among the first funded by the state's $350 million tobacco-lawsuit-settlement bonus. Developing therapies targeted to treat solid tumors, in collaboration with local biotechnology and pharmaceutical firms, is the goal of the Hutchinson Center/University of Washington Cancer Consortium.

Traditionally, Phase I studies have been primarily concerned with drug safety. However, with the increased knowledge of the molecular pathways involved in cancer development, an ever-increasing proportion of drugs initially tested in humans prove to be effective, even in the first patients treated.

"Phase I trials are critically important, require a high level of unique competencies and, if done correctly, can substantially speed the development of new therapies," said Martin Cheever, MD, director of solid-tumor research at the Hutchinson Center. "This is an outcome that can benefit the state's patients, industry and healthcare enterprises."

Initially, the program will use the funding to develop a highly efficient infrastructure for implementing early phase primarily industry-sponsored cancer clinical trials, and to provide exploratory funds that will allow consortium researchers to apply their expertise in cancer imaging and biomarkers to cancer drug development.

The program will be led by John Thompson, MD, as director of the consortium Phase I program.

In other grants/contracts news: Ascent Healthcare Solutions (Phoenix) reported that University HealthSystem Consortium (UHC; Oak Brook, Illinois) has extended its exclusive contract for medical device reprocessing for an additional year, to May 2009.

UHC's 101 academic medical centers and 178 affiliated hospital members can continue to benefit from the significant savings in supply and disposal costs generated by Ascent's single-use medical device reprocessing services.

In 2007, reprocessing through Ascent saved UHC members an estimated $8.1 million in supply costs and $38,000 in disposal costs while eliminating 76 tons of medical waste from landfills. Reprocessed devices cost about half as much as purchasing a new device, Ascent said.