BCAN Announces Awardees of First-Ever, $3 Million Translational Clinical Trial Award

Awards aim to transform bladder cancer care and patient outcomes

(Bethesda, MD) The Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network (BCAN) today announced the recipients of its first-ever Translational Clinical Trial Award (TCTA). The TCTA was created to fund early-phase patient-oriented research projects aimed at reducing the burden of care and over treatment for bladder cancer patients. This three-year award provides up to $3 million to support research with the potential to make significant impacts on bladder cancer patient care and outcomes, leading to changes in clinical practice, guidelines, or standards of care.

Sarah Psutka, MD
Sarah Psutka, MD, MSc

The 2022 TCTA awardees are Sarah Psutka, MD, MSc, Associate Professor of Urology at the University of Washington and Amir Horowitz, PhD, a cancer immunologist in a translational research program focused on bladder cancer and Assistant Professor of Oncological Sciences at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Dr. Horowitz’s co-principal investigators are Matthew Galsky, MD and John Sfakianos, MD, both of Mt. Sinai.

Dr. Horowitz’s team’s proposal seeks to establish proof-of-concept for a novel immunotherapy combination of two drugs, durvalumab and monalizumab, that may delay or prevent the need for a radical cystectomy in patients with BCG-unresponsive, non-muscle invasive bladder cancer.  Dr. Psutka’s “Get Moving” clinical trial will enroll patients who have muscle-invasive bladder cancer and are undergoing chemotherapy followed by radical cystectomy.  Her project aims to study how personalized exercise intervention and pragmatic prehabilitation can improve patient outcomes and health-related quality of life.

Amir Horowitz, PhD

Dr. Horowitz said, “My team and I are very grateful to BCAN for this opportunity.  Not all non-muscle invasive bladder cancer patients respond to BCG treatments, and it is our hope that this trial helps to delay or eliminate the need for a life-altering radical cystectomy for many.”

The TCTA is part of BCAN’s ongoing efforts to advance bladder cancer research and support those impacted by the disease. Since 2009, BCAN has funded over $5 million in bladder cancer research grants.

“BCAN is delighted to announce the awardees of our first-ever Translational Clinical Trial Award,” said Andrea Maddox-Smith, CEO of BCAN. “These innovative research projects have the potential to transform bladder cancer care and improve patient outcomes. We are proud to support Dr. Psutka and Dr. Horowitz and his team in their important work.”

Dr. Psutka added, ” Our team is thrilled to have this opportunity to undertake a pragmatic prehabilitation trial. This trial was born out of the critical need vocalized by our patients and patient advocates at the 2022 BCAN Think Tank scientific meeting.  We look forward to advancing our understanding of how we can meet this need and develop scalable tools that can make personalized prehabilitation available to all.”

Funding for this award comes from BCAN Board member and philanthropist Duncan Alexander.  BCAN is very grateful for his support.

Mark Story
Director of Communications and Marketing