Bolstering Liver Tumor Research


Dan Brown, M.D., and his Vanderbilt Health colleagues are leading the nation in a research program designed to treat patients with liver tumors that cannot be addressed solely with surgery.

In 2015, Brown and colleagues in Radiology launched the Radiation-Emitting SIR-Spheres in Non-Resectable (RESIN) Liver Tumor Patient Registry. Brown, professor of Radiology and Radiological Sciences and chief of Interventional Oncology, has served as the principal investigator of the Vanderbilt-led research registry that tracks cancer patients whose tumors are treated with a radioactive isotope known as Yttrium-90 (90Y).

Interventional oncology uses image-guided techniques to deliver therapy through the arteries to solid tumors. During the 90Y treatment, experts insert a small catheter into an artery in the groin and thread the catheter to tumors in the liver. Using the catheter to deliver 90Y to the liver tumors enables physicians to precisely target the tumors with limited effect on healthy liver tissue.

The therapy is appropriate for patients whose cancer has not responded to standard therapy or has progressed despite treatment.

These microspheres lodge in the smallest systems of blood vessels surrounding a tumor, and 94 percent of the radiation inside the spheres is delivered to the tumor within 11 days.

Sirtex Medical Ltd., the global life-sciences firm that designed the SIR-Spheres Resin Microspheres, recently renewed a grant award for Brown and his team’s work. The research agreement renewal will provide $2.64 million over three years to support the patient registry. Combined with the original contract, the support for this Vanderbilt research totals more than $3 million.

“This updated agreement shows their commitment to this research project, which will be the largest of its kind in the Interventional Radiology space at its conclusion,” Brown said.

The current study includes both academic and private groups with the goal of collecting real world data about the use of this treatment for primary and metastatic liver cancer. To date, 40 medical centers are open and 982 patients are now enrolled with a goal of reaching 3,000 patients.

“We are looking to evaluate real-world usage to identify potential combinations of 90Y and immunotherapy or chemotherapy that can be studied prospectively to improve patient care,” Brown said.

-      This story originally published in the VUMC Reporter in April 2018