Jacksonville, FL — It's another significant milestone for the Mayo Clinic and its research of cancer treatments.
Mayo is one of only 8 organizations picked for a new state grant from the Florida Department of Health, with the money intended to help support researchers in their efforts to improve prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and to develop cures for cancer and tobacco-related diseases.
The Florida Department of Health is awarding Mayo $815,283 for a project led by Cancer Biology Professor John Copland. With the funding, Copland's team will continue studying a pathway that is found in many aggressive forms of cancer.
Specifically, Copland says this funding will allow them to continue developing a compound to interrupt that pathway and treat cancers.
"A drug is not a drug, until it goes into a human being. So, this novel compound that we've synthesized and developed, you know, there are lots of steps you have to go through before you can test it in human beings. There's a lot of safety and efficacy experiments that we have to do to prove that this compound is safe to put into human beings. So far, it's performed very, very well," says Copland.
Copland says the compound would be taken orally and is not very toxic at all, unlike most cancer therapies.
"What's impressive is that it's active against a broad range of cancers, regardless of the mutation status of the cancers, and that's what we're excited about," adds Copland.
He tells us that they're currently in the process of collecting data to make sure the compound meets human safety requirements to get a clinical trial, but he says there are still many steps before his team can put together all of the data to then apply for investigation of a new drug to the FDA.
Copland describes this new funding as 'critical' to keep the process going as its expected to be years-long.
"It could be anywhere from two to four years before we apply for investigation of a new drug with the FDA. If that is approved by the FDA then we would be allowed to perform clinical trials," Copland says. He says those clinical trials would be conducted at Mayo.
The Florida Department of Health says the application process for these grants was competitive with 224 researchers seeking funding, including Mayo. The department says it ultimately awarded the grants based on rigorous peer review.