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 main research goal is to identify predictive biomarkers in clinical cohorts. The group studies population-based patient series and clinical trials.
• Clinical trial: A phase Ib/II randomized open label study of BGB324 in combination with pembrolizumab or dabrafenib/trametinib compared to pembrolizumab or dabrafenib/trametinib alone, in patients with melanoma.
• Clinical trial: A national, multicenter, interventional study of ipilimumab in patients with unresectable or metastatic melanoma (IPI4). The goal is to identify predictive markers.
• Clinical trial: Efficacy of bevacizumab monotherapy in treatment of metastatic melanoma and predictive value of angiogenic markers. Currently, stress response related biomarkers are in focus.
• Research project: Importance of physical trauma on time to recurrence after primary treatment of breast cancer. The project is based on the hypothesis that dormant micro-metastases can initiate tumor growth following a systemic burst of growth factors after surgery or trauma.
Recent important results
1: 70 patients have received treatment in the trial as of January 2022. Five regional centers include patients. After the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, enrollment was significantly slowed down, but is now picking up again. The project still needs to recruit 16 more patients before the group can start reporting on safety and efficacy as well as starting to analyze candidate predictive biomarkers for response to anti-AXL targeted therapy.
2: The IPI-4 prospective trial represents the longest reported follow-up of a realworld melanoma population treated with ipilimumab and was recently published for clinical data. Results indicate safety and efficacy comparable to phase III trials and suggest that the use of ipilimumab can be based on current cost-benefit estimates. The group has now collected tissue samples from primary tumors and pre-treatment metastatic biopsies and has started preparing the material for predictive marker studies.
3: The group assessed the expression of proteins involved in regulation of stress response in a series of melanoma metastasis treated with bevacizumab monotherapy. β2-adrenergic signaling is a stress response mechanism that impacts numerous hallmarks of cancer. To the best of our knowledge, the group is the first to show the correlation between strong expression of β2-adrenergic receptor and clinical benefit from bevacizumab in melanoma.
4: The group has demonstrated an augmented stimulating effect on relapse dynamics in patients experiencing complications in the perioperative period as well as in obese patients.
First, the lack of reliable and robust predictive biomarkers of response to treatment for cancer is still a major challenge. Second, in most cancer types, the response to immune checkpoint inhibitors is poor, and we need to develop new strategies to increase response rates in these cancer types. Third, cancer is a systemic disease, and the majority of cancer deaths are due to metastatic disease. Thus, an increased focus on what causes escape from tumor dormancy and late metastatic relapses is warranted.
The group is currently in the process of designing a new phase 2 clinical trial in renal cell carcinoma combining cryoimmunotherapy with immune checkpoint inhibitors. Two more clinical trials are being planned. The group currently has an increasing focus on the importance of different stress responses in physiologic downregulation of the normal defense against DNA damage. Efforts to investigate the biology behind these evolutionary conserved mechanisms will be intensified.
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.