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Inova and the FNIH Biomarkers Consortium Launch Public-Private Partnership to Develop Novel Imaging Methods to More Accurately Measure Cancer Response and Progression

FALLS CHURCH, VA – Inova, in coordination with the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH) Biomarkers Consortium, is launching a three-year research partnership to develop new methods for analyzing digital images that track a patient’s response to cancer therapy. Michael Maitland, MD, PhD, Director of Therapeutics for the Inova Center for Personalized Health and Associate Director of Cancer Therapeutics Inova Schar Cancer Institute, has been named co-investigator.

A major challenge in cancer therapy development is that many drugs fail at the latest stages, exposing patients to ineffective treatments and wasting valuable resources. A recent review of 253 phase III drug clinical trials for treatment of solid tumors showed that 62 percent did not verify the expected positive benefit previously observed with the therapy in earlier stage trials.[1] This suggests that the tools used to assess drug benefit are inadequate to measure their efficacy at early stages of development. This deficiency contributes to a slower translation of drugs to patient care and indicates a need to establish new methods for tumor evaluation.

The FNIH raised $2.7 million from the private sector to support a new project to address these issues called “Advanced metrics and modeling with Volumetric CT for Precision Analysis of Clinical Trial results” (Vol-PACT). This project is the first to use imaging data from multiple completed, pharmaceutical industry-sponsored, phase II/III clinical trials to identify drug response metrics. “There’s no doubt that significant advances have been made recently in cancer therapeutics. But our research team has consistently asked, ‘What can we do better and how can we move faster?’” said co-investigator from Inova, Michael Maitland. “We have collaborated with individual pharmaceutical companies for years, but this new multi-institution public-private collaboration will accelerate progress.”

The Vol-PACT project team will analyze the imaging data to measure characteristics of cancer progression and to generate potential biological markers (biomarkers) that might apply to many different types of cancer. Lawrence H. Schwartz, MD, Columbia University Medical Center Co-Principal Investigator, defined the goal saying, “We want to provide the optimal method of measuring and assessing tumor burden, and while there are great general guidelines available for drug development, tumor measurement criteria are more based on intuition right now. We hope to define a data-driven methodology to more strongly correlate tumor burden with patient outcomes.”

Geoffrey R. Oxnard, MD, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Co-Principal Investigator of the project, added, “This is an unconventional type of collaborative research, and we know it’s ambitious. We have made a lot of headway, and we are pleased to have this project team and their expertise on board as we produce new information on how we think about, analyze and perform clinical trials.”

The project team also includes experts from the National Cancer Institute and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, as well as Co-Investigator Mithat Gönen, PhD, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. To date, four companies have donated imaging and clinical trial data to support Vol-PACT, and five companies have committed funding.

For more information, see the FNIH website.

Media Contact: Kelly Schlageter,

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About Inova: Inova is a global leader in personalized health, which leverages precision medicine to predict, prevent and treat disease, enabling individuals to live longer, healthier lives. At Inova, we serve more than 2 million people each year from throughout the Washington, DC, metro area and beyond.

We are shaping the future of health through our integrated network of hospitals, primary and specialty care practices, emergency and urgent care centers, outpatient services and destination institutes.  Our commitment to health and wellness is further reflected in our sustainable practices. Inova is home to world-class researchers, expert medical specialists and renowned scientists, who are driving innovation to improve patient care, prevent disease and promote wellness. For more information, visit, or find Inova on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.

About the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health:  The Foundation for the National Institutes of Health creates and manages alliances with public and private institutions in support of the mission of the National Institutes of Health, the world’s premier medical research agency. The Foundation, also known as the FNIH, works with its partners to accelerate biomedical research and strategies against diseases and health concerns in the United States and across the globe. The FNIH organizes and administers research projects; supports education and training of new researchers; organizes educational events and symposia; and administers a series of funds supporting a wide range of health issues. Established by Congress in 1990, the FNIH is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) charitable organization. For additional information about the FNIH, visit
About the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute:  The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute provides expert, compassionate care to children and adults with cancer while advancing the understanding, diagnosis, treatment, cure and prevention of cancer and related diseases. As an affiliate of Harvard Medical School and a Comprehensive Cancer Center designated by the National Cancer Institute, the Institute also provides training for new generations of physicians and scientists, designs programs that promote public health particularly among high-risk and underserved populations, and disseminates innovative patient therapies and scientific discoveries to our target community across the United States and throughout the world. For more information, visit
About the Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC):  Situated on a 20-acre campus in Northern Manhattan and accounting for roughly half of Columbia University’s nearly $3 billion annual budget, Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) provides global leadership in scientific research, health and medical education, and patient care. CUMC’s major teaching hospital affiliates are New York-Presbyterian Hospital and the New York State Psychiatric Institute, both of which share the CUMC campus. CUMC comprises four schools and offers a range of PhDs in biomedical sciences through Columbia University’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. For additional information about CUMC, visit

[1] Gan HK, You B, Pond GR, et al: Assumptions of Expected Benefits in Randomized Phase III Trials Evaluating Systemic Treatments for Cancer. J Natl Cancer Inst 104:590-598, 2012

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