Oncology NEWS International Vol 18 No 4

Aureon launches prostate cancer predictor

April 24, 2009

Aureon Laboratories has released Prostate Px, a test to predict prostate cancer regression and disease recurrence at the time of diagnosis. The technology combines molecular biomarkers, histological and clinical information with advanced mathematics, said Ricardo Mesa-Tejada, MD, vice president of pathology and medical director of Aureon Laboratories.

Ascenta Therapeutics cements treatment potential of AT-101

April 24, 2009

Ascenta Therapeutics announced positive preliminary results from its Phase II study of AT-101 in combination with docetaxel (Taxotere) and prednisone in men with docetaxel refractory, castrate resistant prostate cancer (CRPC). AT-101 is an oral, pan-Bcl-2 inhibitor.

Pathwork tissue test passes muster in multi-center investigation

April 24, 2009

A multi-institutional group has validated a predefined 1,550-gene expression profile for identifying tumor tissue of origin. Malignancies found in unexpected locations, or with poorly differentiated morphologies, can pose a challenge for tissue of origin determination.

Hologic nabs approval for two new HPV tests

April 24, 2009

Women’s healthcare company Hologic received FDA premarket approval for Cervista HPV HR test and the Cervista HPV 16/18 test. The tests are manufactured by Third Wave Technologies. The high-risk Cervista HPV HR test has been approved to screen patients with atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance from cervical cytology results and determine the need for referral to colposcopy. It can also be used adjunctively with cervical cytology to screen women 30 years and older to assess the presence or absence of high-risk HPV types.

P53 mutation linked to advanced CRC in African-Americans

April 24, 2009

Researchers have identified a possible genetic cause for an increased risk for a more advanced form of colorectal cancer in blacks that leads to shorter survival, according to data published in Clinical Cancer Research (15:2406-2416, 2009).

Increased mortality risk cannot be excluded

April 24, 2009

A large meta-analysis of individual patient data from clinical trials of ESAs in cancer patients found that ESAs increased on-study mortality by 17% and overall survival by 6% in patients randomized to receive ESAs, compared with controls. When patients who were on chemotherapy were analyzed separately, the increased risk in on-study mortality and overall survival with ESAs was less pronounced, but cannot be excluded, said Dr. Bohlius from the University of Bern, Switzerland.

Research restores yoga’s role in active therapy

April 24, 2009

As yoga continues to grow in popularity worldwide, questions regarding its use as a therapeutic modality are becoming increasingly important,” said Dr. Dhruva, who is an assistant clinical professor at the University of California, San Francisco and at the UCSF Osher Center for Integrative Medicine.

MRS may eliminate need for invasive brain biopsy

April 24, 2009

Currently, the only definitive method for telling the difference between side effects of radiation therapy for brain tumors and tumor recurrence involves a biopsy of the brain tissue, said Dr. Ewell, an assistant professor in the department of radiation oncology at the University of Arizona in Tucson. MRS has the potential to eliminate the need for this invasive procedure.

Who's News

April 24, 2009

David G. Mutch, MD, has been elected president of the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists. Dr. Mutch is the director of the division of gynecologic oncology and the Ira and Judith Gall Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

David Alberts: Survival of the fittest

April 24, 2009

Desert living presents many challenges: extreme weather, lack of water, unfriendly cacti, and lethal creatures. Adaptability plus a strong survival instinct are key. David S. Alberts, MD, has plenty of both. When he relocated to the University of Arizona, he’d just finished up five years at the University of California, San Francisco, pouring his efforts into leukemia and myeloma research.

Optimal use of aromatase inhibitors comes into focus

April 24, 2009

The majority of postmenopausal breast cancer patients have tumors that express hormone receptors, so advances in endocrine therapy are clearly important. The optimal use of an expanding array of agents is the subject of active investigation, and presentations at SABCS 2008 added insight regarding the relative efficacy of the various approaches in hormone-sensitive early breast cancer patients.

Prophylaxis fends off life-threatening invasive fungal infections

April 24, 2009

Candida and Aspergillus are the most common causes of invasive fungal infections in immunocompromised patients. Over the past two decades, there has been a substantial rise among cancer patients in the incidence of life-threatening invasive fungal infections that pose significant clinical challenges for the oncology community (N Engl J Med 348:1546-1554, 2003).

Minority groups protest CMS’ rejection of VC screening

April 24, 2009

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus have joined the ranks of virtual colonoscopy (VC or CT colonography [CTC]) advocates to pressure the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to reverse a proposal to deny reimbursement for VC screening. Proponents argue that the policy could widen existing colon cancer screening inequalities.

Clear-cut evidence for routine use of ESA agents remains elusive in meta-studies

April 24, 2009

When it comes to erythropoiesis-stimulating agents in cancer patients, there are three distinct schools of thought: These agents are quite straightforward; they are nothing short of a "minefield or morass"; or they are somewhere in between.

MR spectroscopy separates brain tumor recurrence from radiation necrosis

April 24, 2009

MR spectroscopy results can help determine if brain tumor patients with nonspecific lesions may bypass invasive biopsy for conservative management. A study by a multidisciplinary group in Ann Arbor, Mich., found that elevated levels of brain metabolites correlated with evidence of tumor recurrence. The researchers then developed a tumor recurrence model based on their data.

More support for MRI in pinpointing tumor recurrence

April 23, 2009

Researchers from the division of neuro-oncology at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania found that the fraction of malignant histologic features in enhancing brain neoplasms that recur after treatment can be predicted by using the relative cerebral blood volume (rCBV) fraction on standard MR imaging studies.

Study using light reveals breast tumor oxygen status

April 23, 2009

Bioengineers at Duke University in Durham, N.C., have developed a light-based system that provides information about tumor oxygen levels while the tumor is still in vivo. This needle-based technique can provide pathologists with biological specifics of the tumor and help oncologists choose treatment options that would be most effective for that individual patient, according to the researchers.

Medicare approves coverage of FDG-PET scans for 11 cancers

April 23, 2009

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has opened a new chapter in the practice of PET with the announcement for a national Medicare payment policy that expands coverage of PET scans in the initial treatment strategy of most solid cancers and for myelo

Pharmaceutical mergers raise fears of Rx pipeline pruning

April 23, 2009

The likely consolidation of four international drug companies has raised concerns about the range of oncology agents that will remain in the R&D pipeline once the newly merged companies streamline their operations.

Estradiol reduces resistance to AIs

April 22, 2009

Estrogen-receptor positive advanced breast cancer patients who have become resistant to endocrine therapies can derive clinical benefit from 6-mg daily doses of estradiol, according to a phase II study from St. Louis’ Washington University .

Virus-chemo combo fells advanced ca in early trials

April 22, 2009

Oncolytics Biotech announced positive results from its phase I-II trial of Reolysin, which combines a naturally occurring reovirus with platinum-based chemotherapy agents. The research was shared at the 2009 International Meeting on Replicating Oncolytic Virus Therapeutics, in Banff, Alberta, Canada.

U.S. senators call for update of national cancer access act

April 22, 2009

Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex.) introduced the 21st Century Cancer Access to Life-saving Early detection, Research and Treatment Act. The goal of the ALERT Act is to modernize and advance the national cancer program in the U.S.

FDA favors accelerated approval for Avastin in glioblastoma

April 22, 2009

Avastin (bevacizumab) is likely to provide clinical benefit to people previously treated for glioblastoma, according to a unanimous vote by the FDA Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee. The FDA is expected to decide whether to grant accelerated approval of Avastin for glioblastoma by May 5. A global phase III trial evaluating Avastin in people with newly diagnosed glioblastoma will be initiated later this year, according to manufacturer Genentech.

Praise for global study, but concern for subset

April 22, 2009

We have known for some time that endocrine-responsive patients should probably receive an AI, but studies presented at SABCS provided some answers to our questions: Should we start with tamoxifen and then switch to an AI or is the best approach to initiate treatment with an AI from the start?

Yoga fosters sense of well-being in breast ca patients

April 22, 2009

Evidence continues to mount that a regular yoga practice can support emotional well-being in cancer patients. The latest study by a group at Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, N.C., found that restorative yoga eased fatigue in women with breast cancer.

Chemo-resistant NSCLC receptive to folate-driven Rx

April 21, 2009

A single-arm phase II study to evaluate treatment with EC145 in patients with chemotherapy-resistant non-small cell lung cancer who have failed multiple therapy regimens has turned in promising results, according to Endocyte.

Novel angiogenesis inhibitor shrinks tumors in early NSCLC

April 21, 2009

Pazopanib reduced tumor volumes in 86% of patients with non-small cell lung cancer when used as a single agent, according to the results of a phase II study. Lead investigator Nasser Altorki, MD, stressed that the most important finding of his group’s work is that the drug can be given safely to patients with early-stage disease without altering their suitability for surgery.

Most prognostic prostate cancer markers lack clinical utility

April 21, 2009

The value of a molecular marker in cancer depends on whether its use will improve clinical outcomes. Studies on tumor biomarkers are in preliminary stages, and there is a “near total” absence of any papers examining the clinical implications of using markers, according to a speaker at the 2009 Genitourinary Cancers Symposium.

Two major studies add fuel to fire of PSA controversy

April 21, 2009

Prostate-specific antigen testing, the most widely used screening tool in prostate cancer, has long had both critics and supporters. Two studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine continue to generate debate over the value of PSA screening. The papers have two major points in common: They are large-scale studies, and they leave more questions than answers.