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SLVH's First Clinical Trial

San Luis Valley Health recently completed its first clinical trial.

A stage 4 lung cancer patient had limited options, as there’s few treatments for such a serious disease. However, doctors within SLVH’s Cancer Center, as well as other staff and departments, came together to start a clinical trial for medication that could help treat this cancer.

(pictured above are just a few members of the team that helped make this clinical trial successful: Brent Lehto, Shannon Muñiz, RN, Emily Boyd, Dr. Penny Cooper, Rhonda Gunnels, LPN, Ronda Benavidez, Anna Walker)

For this trial, SLVH agreed to be a trial site for the medication before it was approved by the FDA. Staff would have to closely monitor all potential side effects and well-being of the patient.

The medication for this trial was sotorasib, used to treat non-small cell lung cancer that has spread due to a particular KRAS mutation.

According to an article written by the National Cancer Institute, scientists have known for decades that mutations in the KRAS gene is the root cause of cancer for hundreds of thousands of people. Sotorasib works by inhibiting KRAS.

SLVH’s cancer patient met the criteria to be a subject of the clinical trial because she had this particular mutation, and met many other necessary criteria as well.

As this was the first clinical trial SLVH participated in, not only were staff from the Cancer Center essential, but staff from IT, Pharmacy, and Lab were important in helping everything come together.

The patient, after completing the medication, now has her cancer stabilized, is gaining independence again, and is able to leave her nursing home.

Emily Boyd, NP-C in the Cancer Center, said being able to do clinical trials like this one is exciting because SLVH is able to provide treatments and therapies for patients with limited to no options. It also helps patients in the Valley who might have had to travel far for services by providing the trials locally.

“This trial opens the door to talks of future trials. We gained a lot of experience and it prepared us for success,” said Boyd.

As for sotorasib, it was approved by the FDA and is hailed as a milestone for lung cancer treatment. The approval paves the way for more inhibitors to be to be discovered and approved for other KRAS mutations as well.