Dr. Straume has a background in medical oncology with special interest in cutaneous melanoma, renal cancer, and breast cancer. Straume’s research group focuses on clinical cancer research.
The group’s main research goal is to identify biomarkers, predictive biomarkers in particular, in clinical materials. They analyze clinical materials such as population based patient series, clinical trial series as well as single cancer patients treated in the clinic. They use a wide variety of analyses in close collaboration with the other research groups at the CCBIO.
- Clinical trial: A Phase Ib/II randomised open label study of BGB324 in combination with pembrolizumab or dabrafenib/trametinib compared to pembrolizumab or dabrafenib/trametinib alone, in patients with advanced non-resectable (Stage IIIc) or metastatic (Stage IV) melanoma. Main objective is to analyze safety and efficacy of BGB324 in combination with MAPK inhibitors and immunotherapy as well as to identify predictive markers of response.
- Clinical trial: A National, Multicenter, Interventional Study in Patients with Unresectable or Metastatic Melanoma (IPI4). The goal is to identify predictive value of VEGF related biomarkers in the trial.
- Clinical trial: Efficacy of bevacizumab monotherapy in treatment of metastatic melanoma and predictive value of angiogenic markers. The goal is to analyze predictive markers of response in liquid biopsies.
- Clinical trial: Predictive markers of response to sunitinib in treatment of metastatic renal cell carcinoma. The goal is to analyze predictive markers of response in liquid biopsies and biopsies.
- Research project: Importance of physical trauma on time to recurrence after primary treatment of breast cancer. Analyzing patient series as well as blood samples from patients undergoing different types of breast surgery as well as burn injury patients. The project is based on the hypothesis that dormant micrometastases can initiate tumor growth following a systemic burst of growth factors after surgery or trauma.
- Research project: The Role of the Epithelial-to-Mesenchymal Transition (EMT) and Cancer Stem Cell Traits in Breast Cancer Metastasis. Analyzing the role of activation of the EMT associated Axl receptor in initiation and progression of breast cancer.
- Research project: Targeting Cancer Stem Cells with Axl Receptor Inhibitors to Improve the Treatment of Cancer. Using different preclinical models to study efficacy of the Axl inhibitor BGB324 in cancer. In particular, the combinations of BGB324 with immune check point inhibitors are encouraging.
Selected results from the projects above:
1: Seventeen patients have received treatment in the trial as of Jan 2018. Four more regional centers have initiated inclusion of patients.
3: In melanoma patients treated with bevacizumab, strong expression of Activin A, Interleukin 1β and urokinase type Plasminogen activator receptor in metastases was significantly associated with objective response, as well as with markers of activated angiogenesis.
4: The group has found that IL6, IL6R and CRP are important biomarkers in renal cell carcinoma patients treated with sunitinib.
6: Warfarin, that has an Axl inhibitory role, is associated with reduced incidence of different cancers in a large registry based study of the Norwegian population.
Current challenges in the field
The lack of reliable and robust predictive biomarkers of response to treatment for cancer is a major challenge.
2016 Spring Interview
Oddbjørn Straume and his group are working on several promising projects, including research on melanoma, kidney cancer and breast cancer.
Can you tell us about your work and what drives you?
"Melanoma is my personal favorite among all cancers. The melanoma is a kind of prototype malignancy for many kinds of tumor processes, such as interactions with the immune system and the tumor microenvironment, cellular plasticity as well as angiogenesis. I also have research projects on treatment of metastatic kidney cancer. In addition, we study the relation between physiologic processes, such as wound healing, stress responses or tissue trauma, and breast cancer recurrence. In the clinic, I work with all these three cancer types."
How promising are the results so far?
"We set out to identify cancer biomarkers that could be used to guide good clinical decision making. This is a huge challenge, and I am respectful of how difficult it is to predict the behavior of a disease that by definition is unpredictable, due to tumor cell heterogeneity and complex interactions with the host tissues. Nevertheless, I think that the time spent on building up clinical series with complete follow-up and treatment response endpoints will be worthwhile. Several of the candidate biomarkers studied in the CCBIO groups need validation in these kinds of datasets before they can be introduced in the clinic. In particular, a planned randomized phase Ib/II clinical trial will be specifically designed to validate predictive biomarkers of anti-Axl targeted treatment."
What do you hope for the future regarding coming research?
"I hope that the time invested in our clinical trials so far will pay off by resulting in new promising predictive markers useful for the clinicians when planning individualized treatment. I also hope that our research will increase the understanding of tumor biological processes, and maybe, if we are lucky, lead to new targets for future treatment of cancer."
See Straume's PubMed publication list here.