Cancer Research Programs

At LIMR we engage in basic, preclinical and clinical cancer research. Founded in 1927, LIMR was the nation's pioneering research center dedicated to cancer, leading the way in studying cancer as an inflammation-associated growth issue and making groundbreaking discoveries in genetic defects contributing to human cancer, ushering in the modern era of molecular genetics in oncology research.

Cancer research

Basic Research

Today, our main focus of research is on disease modifiers that affect inflammation and immunity. Our researchers are world-renowned experts on tumor microenvironments and immune responses — in fact, we are at the forefront of the immunotherapy revolution.

One disease modifier of emerging importance that we pioneered is the indoleamine 2,3 dioxygenase (IDO) pathway, which modifies inflammatory processes not only in cancer, but also in autoimmune disease, cardiovascular disease and other disorders. Our researchers were among those who uncovered in recent years that a particular IDO enzyme — IDO1 — drives about half of all human cancers by shielding the growing tumor from the body's natural immune attackers. Our scientists began searching more than 10 years ago for drug-like compounds that would suppress the IDO1 enzyme as a strategy to restore the immune system's attack of cancer cells.

Their work led to the discovery of the first IDO1 inhibitors and the demonstration in preclinical studies of their ability to greatly empower the efficacy of many types of cancer therapy. Their studies also showed how animals lacking the IDO1 gene were resistant to the development and progression of induced cancers.

Building upon this foundation, several companies are now testing these and other IDO1-inhibitory drugs in cancer clinical trials to determine their effectiveness in treating melanomas, lung, breast and other cancers — and early results are promising.

We also made significant breakthroughs in nanotherapy, technology that carries a cancer therapeutic through a patient's vast expanse of the blood stream, and then — in pinpoint fashion — delivers the drug to the precise tumor location, bypassing and leaving intact healthy cells along the route.

Clinical research

We also conduct research in clinical oncology, which means patients and participants have access to state-of-the-art clinical trials and new cancer treatments before they become available to the general public. This allows patients to be more active in their health care.

Our Center for Clinical Cancer Research is part of LIMR’s Clinical Research Center, which is led by Paul Gilman, MD. Dr. Gilman and his group oversee all cancer research trials. These include novel trials of experimental therapeutics in oncology; drug development in partnership with pharmaceutical companies; and investigator-initiated trials that relate to methods, tests and drugs developed at LIMR. George Prendergast, PhD, president and CEO of LIMR, and the Havens Chair for Biomedical Research, is a co-director with Dr. Gilman of the LIMR program in cancer research.

Renowned Lankenau Medical Center oncology clinicians Ned Carp, MD and Patrick Ross, MD are affiliated clinical faculty members at LIMR, working closely with LIMR investigators to advance cancer research. Indeed, the synergy between LIMR’s laboratory programs and Main Line Health’s clinical research activities serves as a translational conduit enabling the rapid movement of research findings into clinical investigations.

Browse cancer clinical trials

Center for Clinical Cancer Research

Main Line Health patients have access to state-of-the-art clinical trials and new cancer treatments before they become available to the general public.

Trials are overseen by LIMR's Center for Clinical Cancer Research (CCCR), whose role is to promote and support all cancer research across Main Line Health. Clinical studies center around new experimental therapeutics in oncology, drug development with pharmaceutical companies, and treatments and tests developed within LIMR.

Clinical trials can be crucial to patients, providing more options than they would have otherwise. Trials are available for various types of cancer, including:

  • Breast
  • Colorectal
  • Gastrointestinal
  • Kidney
  • Lung
  • Ovarian
  • Pancreatic
  • Prostate

Patients in cancer trials continue to be seen by their regular oncologists while expanding the possibilities for themselves and cancer treatment overall.

Browse cancer clinical trials available at Main Line Health

For more on the Clinical Cancer Trials Program, please contact Jessica Burrell, BA, BS, CCRP, division manager of oncology research, at 484.476.2469 or [email protected].