The Future of Urotheliar Cancer: An Interview with Dr. Karim Chamie. A 2013 PHASE ONE grant recipient

In 2013, PHASE ONE granted Dr. Karim Chamie, with UCLA Urology, a grant for $145,350 to help combat the rapid increase in urothelial carcinoma. Here is a recent update:

Q: Would you briefly describe your research?

In July 2012, I was appointed as Assistant Professor of Urology and my first grant out of fellowship was a PHASE ONE Foundation Award. I was awarded for the very innovative, but also very risky work of developing a novel reverse polymer gel matrix. This matrix is liquid in cold temperatures and solidifies at body temperature. Therefore, it can be mixed with any chemotherapeutic agent, while on ice, and quickly solidifies within a cavity of interest in the human body. The thought was to instill this into any cavity of interest to better deliver site-specific, anti-cancer therapy. PHASE ONE funded pre-clinical (mouse and porcine models) and clinical trials (compassionate use in humans) instilling this gel mixed with mitomycin C (a common chemotherapy for low-grade urothelial carcinoma) into the upper urothelial tract (renal pelvis and ureter). We have presented our findings at the American Urological Association, Society of Urologic Oncology, and at European Association of Urology meetings. Our findings have been published in peer-reviewed journals and have directly led to an IND application and a pivotal market-directed study—an international multi-institution phase III trial clinical trial measuring the efficacy of this novel compound for patients with low-grade upper tract urothelial carcinoma. The PHASE ONE Foundation has been essential in seeing this idea develop into a Phase III clinical trial. 

Q: What are the next steps?

We are now expanding the indication for high-grade urothelial carcinoma by examining the utility of combining a checkpoint inhibitor and the hydrogel polymer as local treatment. We have submitted a research proposal to the NCI through the investigative grant mechanism to determine the permeability and the subsequent effects on immune cell infiltrates of a checkpoint inhibitor that is delivered intravesically in a MB49 murine bladder cancer model. Preliminary data suggests that the checkpoint inhibitor does penetrate the bladder wall and demonstrate local efficacy without systemic toxicity. 

Q: What are your primary goals with your research?

My long-term goal is to develop, implement, and disseminate interventions that reduce the burden of disease for patients with genitourinary malignancies. With my recent promotion to Associate Professor, I want to thank the PHASE ONE Foundation for playing an instrumental role in early in my career.