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Clinical Research Trials on Liver Cancer

The physicians and health care team at the UPMC Liver Cancer Center are engaged in clinical research trials to determine the latest state-of-the-art treatment for liver tumors.

For more information about clinical research at the UPMC Liver Cancer Center, please contact us.

Active Clinical Research Protocols 

Investigation of Serum and Tissue Markers as Predictors for Survival and Response to Therapy and Development of Biomarkers for Liver and Biliary Disease

Purpose — To facilitate research involving hepatobiliary diseases and promote multidisciplinary collaborative research projects. Learn more about this study.

Principal Investigator — David Geller, MD


A Phase 1b/2, Multicenter, Open-label, Basket Trial to Evaluate the Safety of Talimogene Laherparepvec Injected into Liver Tumors Alone and in Combination with Systemic Pembrolizumab in Phase 1b and to Evaluate the Efficacy and Safety of Intratumoral Talimogene Laherparepvec in Combination With Systemic Pembrolizumab to Treat Subjects with Advanced Solid Tumors in Phase 2 (MASTERKEY-318)

Purpose — To evaluate the safety and efficacy of talimogene laherparepvec alone or in combination with systemic IV administration of pembrolizumab in subjects with solid tumors.

Principal Investigator — David Geller, MD


Circulating Tumor DNA Exposure in Peripheral Blood Using a Novel Process: A Feasibility Study

Purpose — To test the feasibility of detecting circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) from a variety of tumors in patient blood samples using a novel process.

Principal Investigator — David Geller, MD


Strategies to Promote ResiliencY (SPRY)-An Adaptive Randomized Clinical Trial of Metformin in High Risk Surgical Patients

Purpose — To look at whether or not metformin is able to improve surgical outcomes following elective surgery in high risk non-diabetic patients. 

Co-Investigator — David Geller, MD


Palliative Care Intervention for Socioeconomically Disadvantaged Advanced Cancer Patients

Purpose — To test the efficacy of a collaborative care intervention to reduce symptoms of pain, depression, and fatigue in patients diagnosed with cancer. The study will also assess the predictors of caregiving on cardiovascular risk.

Principal Investigator — Jennifer Steel, PhD


Pain Reduction and Opioid Medication Safety in ESRD (PROMISE) study

Purpose — To test the efficacy of a pain coping skills intervention and buprenorphine in patients diagnosed with advanced kidney disease.

Principal Investigator — Jennifer Steel, PhD


Technology Assisted Stepped Collaborative Care Intervention to Improve Patient Centered Outcomes in Hemodialysis Patients

Purpose — To test the efficacy of a collaborative care intervention to reduce symptoms of pain, depression, and fatigue in patients diagnosed with cancer. The study will also assess the predictors of caregiving on cardiovascular risk.

Principal Investigator — Jennifer Steel, PhD


Dyadic Sleep Intervention

Purpose —To test the efficacy of a dyadic sleep intervention for those diagnosed with cancer and their spouses or intimate partners.

Principal Investigator — Jennifer Steel, PhD


Distress after Stopping Immunotherapy

Purpose —To test the efficacy of an intervention to reduce distress and fear of recurrence after stopping immunotherapy.

Principal Investigator — Jennifer Steel, PhD


Upcoming Clinical Research Protocols

Clinical Translation of Augmented Reality Visualization for Laparoscopic Surgery

Purpose — To test the technical feasibility of multimodality image fusion and visualization for guiding laparoscopic liver surgery.

Principal Investigator — David Geller, MD


Physical Activity Intervention for Renal Transplant Patients

Purpose —To test the efficacy of a physical activity intervention for those awaiting renal transplant.

Principal Investigator — Jennifer Steel, PhD


Clinical Research Interests

  • Gene therapy trials for primary and metastatic liver cancer
  • Augmented liver reality imaging to enhance laparoscopic liver surgery and ablation
  • Human hepatocyte isolation to study I/R injury and cancer signaling pathways
  • CyberKnife® treatment and follow-up for primary or metastatic liver tumors
  • A Phase II study of yttrium-90 microspheres (SIR-Spheres®) therapy for the treatment of unresectable hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC)
  • Regional therapy with transarterial chemoembolization (TACE) vs. SIR-Spheres® for liver metastases secondary to neuroendocrine tumors
  • Cold vs. warm ischemia and other factors that influence cell viability, morphology, and function in hepatocytes

Recent Clinical Research Protocols

  • NSABP PROTOCOL C-11: A Phase III, multicenter, randomized trial that will evaluate the difference in recurrence-free survival between patients with resectable hepatic colorectal metastases receiving perioperative (preoperative plus postoperative) chemotherapy and those receiving only postoperative chemotherapy following hepatic surgery to resect colorectal metastases.
  • BTG (STOP-HCC) Trial: To evaluate TheraSphere® in the treatment of patients with unresectable hepatocellular carcinoma in whom treatment with standard-of-care sorafenib therapy is planned.
  • NSABP PROTOCOL FC-6: A Phase II Study to Determine the Surgical Conversion Rate in Patients Receiving Neoadjuvant mFOLFOX7 Plus Cetuximab for Unresectable Wild-Type K-RAS Colorectal Cancer with Metastases Confined to the Liver
  • LC® Drug Eluting Bead for Regional Chemoembolization to Downstage or Bridge Unresectable Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC) to Liver Transplantation
  • Phase I/II Trial Testing Immunization with AFP Plus GM-CSF Plasmid and AFP Adenoviral Vector Boost in Patients with Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC)
  • Computer-Mediated Strategies for Symptom Management
  • Analysis of the Cytokine-Immunological Model of Cancer

For more information about active clinical research, interests, or protocols at the UPMC Liver Cancer Center, please contact us.