Bermudian doctor wins virtual pitch for cancer treatment research funding – The Royal Gazette

Updated: October 16, 2022 11:18

Dr. Sheldon Holder, assistant professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at Brown University (photo provided)

A Bermudian doctor has won $70,000 in funding to conduct clinical trials of a potentially life-saving cancer treatment after winning a virtual pitch competition.

Sheldon Holder, assistant professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at Brown University in Rhode Island, where he is also a medical oncologist at the university’s cancer center, was one of two winners of the competition organized by the foundation Remedies at hand.

His pitch proposed repurposing the drug Degarelix used to treat prostate cancer for using the treatment of bladder cancer in the same way – by blocking testosterone.

Dr Holder, a Pembroke native who moved to the United States to study after graduating from the Bermuda Institute, said: “This funding opportunity is different from most.

“Cures Within Reach is funding drugs to redirect clinical trials – they are already FDA [Food and Drug Administration] approved.

“It doesn’t have to be for cancer, but the researcher or the doctor thinks that using the drug for another disease might be beneficial. They are cheaper for a new drug since they are already approved – we know they are safe. It is a guarantee to see if it works for another type of disease.

“I am very happy to be able to do this clinical trial. We have known for a long time that men develop bladder cancer more frequently than women.

“They used to think it was because of things like smoking as men smoked more than women or occupational hazards as they tended to work in industrial settings, but it’s been well documented that this was not the case because even when you control for that, the disparity still exists.

“Some think it’s because of testosterone levels – I think it’s implicated in the development of bladder cancer. The way we treat it now is chemotherapy followed by surgery to remove the bladder.

“I also treat the prostate and we block testosterone but we never do that for bladder cancer. We will use a drug that we use in the prostate and use it in the bladder to lower their testosterone levels.

Dr Holder said a pilot study involving around 32 patient volunteers will be conducted in order to get a signal on whether the hypothesis is true. If so, there will be a phase two study that will require a larger grant and include hundreds of volunteers and collaboration with other cancer centers. The whole process could take at least four years, he said.

Asked if he thought the treatment could extend to other types of cancer, Dr Holder said: ‘For this trial we are only looking at bladder cancer – it makes it easier the conclusion. However, there may be other types of cancer that are also sensitive to testosterone and we are certainly interested in evaluating other types of cancer.

Dr Holder gave a seven-minute virtual pitch and was voted the winner last Thursday not only by a panel of experts but also by members of the public, including fellow Bermuda who he called on in August for the sustain.

He said: “I would like to thank my home country, I have received many messages of congratulations and good wishes, I thank my friends, my family and the people in the countryside for the support they have given me. showed – it’s heart-warming.”

The full pitch can be viewed here.

As principal investigator, Dr. Holder will be fully involved in the trials that will test both men and women with bladder cancer.

About Hector Hedgepeth

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