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Rachel Darwin, Senior Manager, Public Relations, 267-622-6624

NCCN Announces Research Projects Exploring Axitinib in Various Cancers, in Collaboration with Pfizer

National Comprehensive Cancer Network Oncology Research Program announces selected studies on adding an oral VEGF inhibitor to treatment for melanoma, colorectal cancer, and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).

PLYMOUTH MEETING, PA [December 15, 2020] — The National Comprehensive Cancer Network® (NCCN®) Oncology Research Program (ORP) today announced four projects selected to receive funding for clinical evaluation of axitinib. Axitinib, a small molecule indazole derivative, is an oral multi-targeted tyrosine kinase inhibitor of Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) Receptors 1, 2, and 3. NCCN issued the initial Request for Proposals and convened a Scientific Review Committee from across NCCN Member Institutions to select projects. The studies will receive funding and oversight from Pfizer.

The following projects were selected:

  • Phase II Study of Axitinib + Ipilimumab in Advanced Melanoma
  • Phase II Study of Axitinib + PD-1 Blockade in Mucosal Melanoma with Adaptive Phase I Escalation in Select Progressors
  • Phase I-II Study of Hepatic Chemoembolization With Irinotecan-Loaded Drug-Eluting Microspheres (DEBIRI) Plus Axitinib and Hydrochlorquine for Liver-Dominant Metastatic Adenocarcinoma Of The Colon And Rectum
Left to right: Drs. Eroglu, Hsieh, Shoushtari, and Soulen
Zeynep Eroglu, MD, Moffitt Cancer Center David Hsieh, MD, UT Southwestern Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center Alexander Shoushtari, MD, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center Michael Soulen, MD, Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania


“We’re particularly interested in learning more about the efficacy of axitinib in combination with various other anti-cancer agents, that may exploit its specific pharmacokinetics,” said Wui-Jin Koh, MD, Chief Medical Officer, NCCN. “These innovative studies will add to our knowledge base for treating challenging cancer presentations, as part of our ongoing exploration into how to improve patient outcomes. All of the selected researchers should be commended for their meritorious proposals.”

The projects are set to begin by August 2021.

The NCCN ORP fosters innovation and knowledge discovery that improves the lives of people with cancer and supports preclinical, translational, clinical research and quality improvement projects in oncology at NCCN Member Institutions. In an effort to improve collaboration in cancer research, the NCCN ORP also maintains a shared resources website and an informed consent database. For more information, visit

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About the National Comprehensive Cancer Network

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network® (NCCN®) is a not-for-profit alliance of leading cancer centers devoted to patient care, research, and education. NCCN is dedicated to improving and facilitating quality, effective, efficient, and accessible cancer care so patients can live better lives. The NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN Guidelines®) provide transparent, evidence-based, expert consensus recommendations for cancer treatment, prevention, and supportive services; they are the recognized standard for clinical direction and policy in cancer management and the most thorough and frequently-updated clinical practice guidelines available in any area of medicine. The NCCN Guidelines for Patients® provide expert cancer treatment information to inform and empower patients and caregivers, through support from the NCCN Foundation®. NCCN also advances continuing education, global initiatives, policy, and research collaboration and publication in oncology. Visit for more information and follow NCCN on Facebook @NCCNorg, Instagram @NCCNorg, and Twitter @NCCN.