Posted on Feb 26, 2018
Dr. Casey Williams is the Director of the Avera Cancer Institute Center for Precision Oncology and the Department of Molecular and Experimental Medicine.  Today, he discussed some of the challenges in bringing new cancer medicines into the clinic, summarized some of the key areas of focus for cancer research at Avera, including genomics and early phase clinical trials, and provided an overview of some of the current trials and future directions.

Today's Program Highlights
Dr. Williams discussed Avera's focus is to bring cutting-edge translational and clinical research that brings hope to the hopeless, and peace of mind to patients and their families.  Avera offers new drug and drug combinations that can provide hope to patients with advanced cancer.  They also collaborate with international leaders in cancer medicine to bring new treatment options for patients.  In turn, this provides peace of mind that can dramatically improve outcomes for patients with newly diagnosed diseases, and can detect cancer much earlier than current standard approaches.
Dr. Williams stated that everyone's cancer is different because everyone's genes are different.  Avera Cancer is developing new therapies in which a person's DNA is sequenced and then roadmapped.  This roadmap allows a targeted therapy based on the individual, not just the type of cancer.  This roadmapping is not the standard of care, but Dr. Williams believes in will be in the future.  
Prescription drugs come to the market through clinical trials.  Avera cancer is spearheading umbrella trials. Umbrella trial types study 1 type of cancer like lung cancer, and then match drugs based on the genetic mutations found in the patients with lung cancer.  Basket trials are similar, but instead of one type of cancer, there are multiple types of cancer that may share a common genetic mutation that the drug being tested, matches to. 
Some of the clinical trials at Avera Cancer Institute at this time are:
•Takeda – A Phase I Evaluation of the Safety and Tolerability of TAK-228 in Combination with TAK-117 and Paclitaxel in Advanced Solid Tumors
•Tesaro – A Phase I Evaluation of the Safety and Tolerability of Niraparib in Combination with Everolimus in Advanced Ovarian and Breast Cancer
•WIN Spring - started in January –Additional versions of this trial will be coming with more drug combos over next several years
Dr. Williams received his Pharm.D. from Creighton University and subsequently completed his PGY-1 residency in Pharmacy Practice at the University of North Carolina, and his PGY-2 Oncology Practice residency at the University of Texas/Audie Murphy VA. Dr. Williams has clinical faculty appointments at the University of Kansas School of Pharmacy, South Dakota State University School of Pharmacy and the University of South Dakota School Of Medicine. He is a fellow of the Hematology/Oncology Pharmacy Association and the past chair of Board of Pharmaceutical Specialties Oncology Specialty Council. Dr. Williams has well over one hundred peer reviewed abstracts and manuscripts and is currently the Co-principal investigator with Dr. Brian Leyland-Jones of multiple clinical trials investigating the role of molecularly-guided combination therapy in the treatment of early and advanced malignancies.
Program for March 5, 2018
Charles Marohn, Founder and President, Strong Towns