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Dr. Meeks discusses his current bladder cancer research


“We're still very interested in early-stage bladder cancer, those at high risk do not respond to BCG,” says Joshua J. Meeks, MD, PhD.

In this video, Joshua J. Meeks, MD, PhD, discusses bladder cancer research currently underway at Northwestern University. Meeks is the Edward M. Schaeffer, MD, PhD, professor of biology and associate professor of urology and biochemistry and molecular genetics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, Illinois.


I think there are a lot of projects that we have that are really exciting at this point. We just had a nice publication looking at the biomarkers for immune response for muscle-invasive bladder cancer. We're really excited because we think that that's a great therapy for people, and the real challenge that most folks have faced is how do you identify those that will respond? And so we're able to, with this new biomarker system, identify people at a much greater chance to respond to checkpoint immunotherapy. That's been a real limitation that's limited its use. I think going forward, we'd love to try to be able to apply that to patients in the both pretreatment and postcystectomy area to try to figure out, can we identify people that would benefit from that? And so that validation part is something that's kind of the next phase. Other things around the lab that we're really interested in right now, is, we're still very interested in early-stage bladder cancer, those at high risk to not respond to BCG. BCG is a therapy that we've used for 40 years, and we don't know how to select patients because the drug has worked pretty well. But going forward, there are new trials coming out that will help us look at different therapies that are available. [We're] trying to figure out who's going to be the best responders. Before, it didn't matter, because you had 1 treatment. But now we're going to have, potentially, sequential chemotherapy; checkpoint plus BCG. So it's going to matter to try and pick those patients that are better responders or not. We're still looking at that; we're still very interested in stage 1 cancers, because I still see folks in the office that say, "I have a stage 1 cancer, is it safe to get BCG? Should I consider a cystectomy?" And so we're still interested in that. [In addition], we've been working on this project of gender and why women in general have a lower risk to get bladder cancer, but when they get it, it tends to be more aggressive. We're still working on that project. That's been a harder nut to crack, mostly because there are fewer samples, but [we're] trying to figure that out. I think that's going to give us a lot of insight to why people get bladder cancer. Because if you can look at males and females and the difference in gender initiation of bladder cancer, it really gives insight into why any person gets it. So we're very interested in that. So that's a smattering about what we work on currently. There's a lot of really interesting stuff that's coming along.

This transcript was edited for clarity.

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