Tanios S. Bekaii-Saab, M.D., conducts clinical and translational research focused on developing anti-cancer agents for patients with gastrointestinal cancers. Dr. Bekaii-Saab collaborates extensively with various scientists and industry partners to design and execute innovative clinical trials, including many first-in-human studies. He also leads the Mayo Clinic-supported cancer research consortium Academic and Community Cancer Research United (ACCRU) and is one of the leading clinician-scientists in the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology, a National Cancer Institute (NCI)-supported cooperative research group.
Dr. Bekaii-Saab's research includes a large focus on the incorporation of agents that target the multiple facets of cancer, including genetic and epigenetic drivers, as well as the feeding microenvironment and the immune milieu. His work includes two recent discoveries as co-inventor of a molecule that targets cancer-related cachexia (AR-42) and an anti-PD-1 vaccine. His research has also led to the launch of a number of phase II and III clinical trials, including a recent trial with a cancer stem cell inhibitor (napabucasin) in pancreatic cancer, the development of an inhibitor of fibroblast growth factor receptor (FGFR) fusion genes in bile duct cancers, and a contribution to the pivotal study that led to the regulatory approval of nanoliposomal irinotecan for treating pancreatic cancer.
- Novel therapeutics in pancreatic cancer. Dr. Bekaii-Saab's research in pancreatic cancer focuses on the multiple facets of pancreatic cancer, including cancer stem cells, DNA repair and the immune milieu. An example of his recent work includes a clinical and translational trial with a class of agents known as poly-ADP-ribose polymerase (PARP) inhibitors (rucaparib) in sequential combination with nanoliposomal irinotecan with a focus on pancreatic cancer with tumors exhibiting DNA repair defects. This study is one of the main projects in the Mayo Clinic Pancreatic Cancer SPORE.
- Personalized targeted strategies in colorectal cancer. Dr. Bekaii-Saab's research in colorectal cancer focuses on utilizing liquid biopsies — a technology that will detect tumor DNA circulating in the bloodstream without the need for an invasive tissue biopsy — to determine the molecular makeup of cancer cells. Colorectal and liquid biopsy molecularly assigned therapy (COLOMATE) is a noninvasive screening platform that utilizes liquid biopsies to determine specific therapeutic interventions in patients with metastatic colorectal cancer. This ACCRU-led platform study is a large collaborative effort that includes researchers and institutions across the country to leverage patient volumes and expertise in continuing this work.
- Targeting FGFR in bile duct cancer. Dr. Bekaii-Saab's research in bile duct cancer (cholangiocarcinoma) includes major efforts in molecularly targeted therapy and drug discovery. One recent example includes a focus on FGFR fusions, which are found in up to 17 percent of intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma. His work with other Mayo Clinic investigators and industry partners continues to pave the way for the clinical development of various FGFR inhibitors in this molecular subgroup of patients with FGFR alterations.
Significance to patient care
Dr. Bekaii-Saab hopes that his research will result in the development of better tools to tackle the highly complex and heterogeneous nature of gastrointestinal cancer. Through a large emphasis on precision medicine and individualized care, many novel anti-cancer drugs are proving to be effective in subsets of patients. Dr. Bekaii-Saab's collaborative work has the potential to accelerate the availability of new effective therapies for patients with various gastrointestinal cancers.
- Editorial board member, Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 2017-present
- Member, hepatobiliary and pancreatic task forces, NCI, 2016-present
- Editorial board member, Journal of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, 2013-2016
- Participant, Leadership Development Program, American Society of Clinical Oncology, 2012-2013
- Recipient, Clinical Investigator Team Leadership Award, NCI, 2011-2013