OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – University of Oklahoma Health researchers have made a potentially historic breakthrough in cancer treatment. A medication has been developed for patients and they are now being tested right here in Oklahoma.  

Here’s the original story about the clinical trial being conducted for a cancer drug. 

It has now advanced to Phase 1 clinical trials for women with advanced-stage gynecological cancers. Currently, OK-1 is being given in pill form to several patients involved in the clinical trial at the Stephenson Cancer Center. 

“Our goal has been to develop improved ways to prevent and treat cancer without all of the toxicities that are caused by current cancer treatments, especially in a situation of prevention, really side effects toxicity is not acceptable,” said Dr. Doris Benbrook, perspiration health foundation presidential professor at OU Health. 

Patients are taking very low doses in a capsule form and are being monitored. If there are no side effects, they increase the dosage as needed. 

“The first step in humans that we have to do is to prove that it’s not toxic, that the drug is not going to cause severe side effects… The major objective of these first in human studies has to be what is a safe dose. So, the first patients will be those with gynecologic cancers that haven’t responded to the standard of care. So, it’s ethical to give them something other than the standard of care,” said Benbrook.  

At the same time, samples are being taken from the patients to study how it affects their blood, tissues and their cancer. 

“We’re studying that very carefully as well to give the best dose without necessarily just giving the maximum dose we can,” said Benbrook.  

Dr. Benbrook says during preclinical testing, the drug has been effective against all types of cancers. 

“However, we have to focus on one because cancers are so heterogeneous, they’re very different. And we really need to understand how it works with one before we can apply it to others. So, our focus right now is on gynecologic cancers ovarian, cervical and endometrial cancers,” said Benbrook.  

When this was first announced, there was a worldwide interest in the trail. 

“We really need to go through the FDA mandated step by step mechanism of first… So, we’ve had more people contact us than are eligible, and we have people, I believe, coming in from other states to enroll in this trial,” said Benbrook.

Doctor Benbrook said it is rare that the drug has been developed entirely in an academic setting without venture capital investment or pharmaceutical company investment. Instead, they relied on grants from the Presbyterian Health Foundation and the National Cancer Institute that have invested millions of dollars in the drug.