Cancer Pharmacology Laboratory

Frank M. Balis, MD, in the Cancer Pharmacology Laboratory focuses on optimizing the safety and efficacy of new and conventional anticancer drugs, developing new drugs for childhood cancers and devising new clinical trial designs and endpoints to expedite the development of new treatments.

The Cancer Pharmacology Laboratory characterizes the clinical pharmacology of anticancer drugs by developing methods to measure the concentration of these drugs in the plasma of children with cancer and analyzing these concentrations using sophisticated computer modeling and simulation software in order to identify dosing methods that will optimize each drug’s therapeutic effects and minimize toxicity.

The Laboratory is identifying and validating new biomarkers to measure the capacity of the kidneys and liver to eliminate drugs. These biomarkers will be used with the knowledge of a drug’s clinical pharmacology to devise more accurate, individualized dosing methods. In addition, biomarkers are being developed to more sensitively detect and quantify drug toxicity and to accurately measure drug activity and efficacy to serve as early endpoints in clinical trials.

The Cancer Pharmacology Laboratory also conducts a variety of clinical trials of new investigational agents for childhood cancers with an emphasis on studying the new classes of drugs that target the genetic defects in cancer cells that contribute to their malignant behavior.

Future directions in the Cancer Pharmacology Laboratory will include characterizing the clinical pharmacology of biological drugs in children. Biologics are agents that come from living organisms, such as antibodies and cellular therapies. This class of drugs will have an increasingly important role in the treatment of childhood cancers.