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PICI Takes On Prostate Cancer: A Q&A with the Experts

At PICI, we believe cancer is curable within our lifetime. We progress the science in cancers of need with an innovative model built for speed. Specifically in advanced prostate cancer, we’re testing multiple treatment combinations rapidly in a clinical platform trial. In an interview, a few of our experts gave us an inside look at our PORTER trial:


Q: Why is PICI undertaking prostate cancer?

Ramy Ibrahim, MD, Chief Medical Officer: PICI tackles difficult-to-treat cancers, so that makes advanced prostate cancer a perfect target for us. Not only is prostate cancer the second leading cause of death among men in the U.S. and known for low survival rates, but patients with advanced stages of prostate cancer have limited access to treatments beyond hormonal therapy. Even more challenging, when it comes to immunotherapy, prostate tumor types have shown limited activity and responsiveness because the tumor’s microenvironment is more suppressive and acts like a barrier walling the tumor off from being attacked.

With this study, we are testing different modalities and exploring science-driven treatment combinations. We’re collaborating with pioneers and experts like Padmanee Sharma, MD, PhD, the first oncologist who was willing to test checkpoints in genitourinary malignancies, to find a cure.


Q: PORTER is a platform trial. What does that mean? How is that helping PICI push the science forward for prostate cancer?

Leonardo Nissola, MD, Clinical Scientist: The platform element means we can test more therapies more quickly compared to the conventional, traditional clinical trial design.

Ari Bitton, MSc, Senior Clinical Trial Manager: This approach helps us push the science forward because the combinations we’re testing are unique and novel for this patient population. With the platform study design, PORTER aims to provide more opportunities to patients and constantly propose, test and evaluate new hypothetical combinations.

Leonardo Nissola: As a result, the trial is always evolving as we add new, promising treatments.


Q: What else makes the PORTER trial different and interesting?

Justin Fairchild, MPH, Executive Director of Clinical Development: I find the PORTER trial unique because of the flexibility it has with the platform design combined with PICI’s capability to deeply analyze the biology of tumors. We can more quickly assess if a given combination sees encouraging activity—as traditional phase 1 trials—and understand why. Knowing why a tested combination does or does not work can then inform new ones, rapidly refining how we think about prostate cancer and how we’ll treat it with immunotherapies.

Along with uniqueness of design, PICI is committed to making groundbreaking advancements to existing treatments rather than incremental improvements. This is critical when targeting prostate cancer since it is notorious for resisting immunotherapy treatments.


Learn more about the PORTER trial here and tag @parkerici on social media to share your #Movember efforts with us.