Center of Excellence for Translational and Comparative Oncology Research

The Kansas State University Center of Excellence for Translational and Comparative Oncology Research (CETCOR) was first established in late 2017, having received generous start-up funding from the Johnson Cancer Research Center and support from the College of Veterinary Medicine.

The overriding objective of CETCOR is to expedite the pre-clinical and clinical development, production and/or licensure of novel or improved medical interventions (drugs, immunotherapeutics, and medical devices or diagnostics) for the diagnosis, management and treatment of both human and animal cancer.

The unique aspect of CETCOR is that, unlike many Centers of Excellence, it does not possess a solitary research emphasis. CETCOR does not focus on a distinct oncologic histotype, nor the development of a single novel drug or drug delivery system. The group aims to facilitate the advancement of all cancer-associated research taking place on campus and within the K-State community, whether that be at the basic physiologic and pharmacologic level or in the later stages of diagnostic technology or therapeutic drug development pathway.

CETCOR works with researchers, across campus and within the wider K-State community, to advance their discoveries towards clinical utility in a timely and cost effective manner by providing study design guidance, specifically through the application of appropriate animal models.

Animal models have long provided the means to test novel anticancer agents and diagnostic / monitoring modalities in a pre-clinical setting. Such models function as the final filters for selecting drugs for clinical trials. Although rodents are most frequently used in this setting, and do provide some distinct advantages in terms of experimental tractability, there are also well-recognized limitations of the mouse model. Rodent models often lack key characteristics of human cancers, such as long latency, genomic instability, and heterogeneity among the tumor cells and the surrounding microenvironment. Consequently, the immensely complex biology of cancer recurrence and metastasis are not sufficiently recapitulated in mice, and unfortunately these limitations are reflected in the unacceptably high drug candidate attrition rate of subsequent clinical trials.

Through its clinical trials, as well as advisory, networking and continuing education programs, CETCOR aims to make K-State’s oncology research programs increasingly successful and impactful.