Oncology NEWS International Vol 4 No 5

Genetic Therapy Gets NIH Patent

May 01, 1995

GAITHERSBURG, Md--The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has licensed its broad patent covering gene therapy techniques to Genetic Therapy, Inc. The inventors cited on the patent are gene therapy pioneers W. French Anderson, Steven Rosenberg, and Michael Blaese.

Fusion Product Delivers Potent Toxin to Malignant Cells

May 01, 1995

NEW ORLEANS--Diphtheria toxin-based "fusion toxins" can produce durable remissions in malignancies that express the targeted receptor, and they are safe and well-tolerated, said John R. Murphy, PhD, chief of biomolecular medicine, Boston University Medical Center Hospital.

Retinoic Acid May Enhance Chemo In Ovarian Ca Cells

May 01, 1995

SAN FRANCISCO--Retinoic acid appeared to enhance the efficacy of cisplatin (Platinol) and paclitaxel (Taxol) in two of three ovarian cancer cell lines tested, James R. Bosscher, MD, said in his poster presentation at the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists meeting.

Compounds Block ras Gene Function Compounds Block ras Gene Function

May 01, 1995

TORONTO, Canada--For years, scientists have known that defective genes allow tumors to grow. Today, researchers blame as many as 30% of all cancers on just one of those genes, the ras gene, the first oncogene discovered in human cancers. Animal research presented at the meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) may someday lead to cancer drugs that can block the effects of this oncogene in humans.

Companies Merge to Form NeXstar

May 01, 1995

BOULDER, Colo--NeXagen, Inc. and Vestar, Inc. have merged to form NeXstar Pharmaceuticals, Inc. One focus of the new company will be the liposomal delivery of oligonucleotides. The company's initial product, AmBisome, is a liposomal formulation of amphotericin B, which has been approved for marketing in 16 countries for the treatment of life-threatening systemic fungal infections that fail to respond to conventional amphotericin B therapy.

Scientists Debate Best Way to Spur Immune System to Battle Cancer: Interleukins or Altered Tumor Cells?

May 01, 1995

NEW YORK--If the immune system represents the front runner in the fight against cancer, opinion remains divided on the best way to harness it. Some researchers are betting on the interleu-kins; others believe that the tumor cell itself must be altered to make the immune system recognize it as the enemy.

Antiangiogenesis Tested in Pediatric Tumors

May 01, 1995

NEW ORLEANS--Researchers at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute have initiated a trial of an angiogenesis inhibitor in children with recurrent solid tumors, the idea being to stunt the growth of new blood vessels that nourish the tumor. Speaking at the American Cancer Society Science Writers Seminar, Dr. Stephen Skapek, of the Department of Pediatrics, Harvard, said that an agent known as TNP-470 (formerly AGM-1470) was found to be a "potent" inhibitor of blood vessel growth in immunosuppressed mice and produced a desirable adverse effects profile.

Delivery of Effective Cyclophosphamide Metabolite Could Reduce Toxicity

May 01, 1995

COLUMBUS, Ohio--Research from Ohio State University points to phosphoramide mustard as the cyclophosphamide metabolite with the greatest alkylating activity, and suggests that a reformulation of the chemotherapeutic agent to deliver only this metabolite could reduce toxicity without decreasing anticancer activity.

New Director Attends Office of Alternative Medicine Advisory Meeting

May 01, 1995

BETHESDA, Md--Wayne Jonas, MD, director-designate of the NIH Office of Alternative Medicine (OAM), who will take office on July 1, has attended his first meeting of the Alternative Medicine Program Advisory Council (AMPAC).

Cancer Vaccine Made From Purified Tumor Antigen Enters Phase III Melanoma Trials

May 01, 1995

NEW YORK--A mollusk protein turned out to be the best carrier for a cancer vaccine being developed by Philip O. Livingston, MD, at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. This approach to augmenting the immunogenicity of the GM2 ganglioside tumor antigen is about to be tested in phase III randomized trials of melanoma patients who are free of detectable disease after surgery but are at high risk for recurrence.

Worksite Cancer Screening Boosts Employee Morale

May 01, 1995

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla-Worksite cancer screening programs are designed to help reduce cancer morbidity and mortality among employees, but have the added benefit of enhancing the employer's corporate image and boosting employee morale.

Centocor CA 125 II, New Version of CA 125 Assay, Is Now Available

May 01, 1995

MALVERN, Penn--Centocor Diagnostics has introduced Centocor CA 125 II, a second-generation radioimmunoassay for the management of ovarian cancer. The new assay, a more sensitive version of Centocor CA 125, uses the same tracer antibody, OC125, but a new capture antibody, M11, to measure serum CA 125 levels.

Women Smokers Have High Nicotine Concentrations in Their Cervical Mucus

May 01, 1995

SAN FRANCISCO--For 15 years, there has been a clear, epidemiologic link between cigarette smoking and an increased risk of cervical cancer, Steven Waggoner, MD, said at a poster presentation at the Society of Gynecologic Oncol-ogists meeting.

Ocean Organisms a Source of New Anticancer Drugs

May 01, 1995

NEW YORK--The earth's oceans are yielding a multitude of new sources of anticancer and anti-HIV agents, possibly with unique mechanisms of action (see illustration on page 1). In only 8 years of operation, Pharma Mar, s.a. (Madrid, Spain) has developed a library of more than 20,000 marine samples and has isolated some 350 novel marine-based compounds, including 40 that have been patented.

House Wants to Cut NIH Budget

May 01, 1995

WASHINGTON--The House Budget Committee proposed a plan that calls for a 5% reduction in funding for NIH in fiscal 1996, which amounts to about $1 billion out of a total NIH budget of $11.8 billion.

Educational Interventions Help Ca Patients Cope With Fatigue

May 01, 1995

NEW YORK--Fatigue is too often a part of life for cancer patients and can erode their quality of life. "We need to talk to cancer patients about their energy level and ability to cope, and educate them about how to deal with the treatment and the disease itself," said Lois Almadrones, RN, MPA, OCN, clinical research associate, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

Blue-Light Endoscope Trial Closed

May 01, 1995

RICHMOND, BC, Canada--Xillix Technologies Corp. has closed the North American multicenter clinical trial of its LIFE (lung imaging fluorescence endoscope)-Lung Imaging System that began in April, 1993.

Delerium in Pain Patients May Masquerade as Depression

May 01, 1995

NEW YORK--About 30% of the cancer patients he is asked to evaluate for depression turn out to have delirium, said Memorial Sloan-Kettering psychiatrist William S. Breitbart, MD, at a conference sponsored by Cancer Care, Inc.

Suit to Test Rights of Physicians to Receive Info on Off-Label Drug Use

May 01, 1995

WASHINGTON--The Washington Legal Foundation (WLF), a public interest group, has claimed that the FDA violated the First Amendment rights of physicians by denying them access to information about the off-label use of certain oncologic drugs.

New Docetaxel Ovarian Cancer Trial

May 01, 1995

LISBON, Portugal--Encouraging news for women with platinum-resistant advanced ovarian cancer has emerged from a large phase II trial of docetaxel (Taxotere) conducted by the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) Early Clinical Trials Group.

Head-to-Toe Review May Find Reversible Cause of Fatigue in Ca Patient

May 01, 1995

n NEW YORK--Roughly 70% of cancer patients complain of fatigue at some point in their illness, and a search for reversible causes and multiple etiologies of such fatigue should be a part of standard practice, Ronald Blum, MD, said at a a symposium on fatigue in cancer sponsored by Cancer Care, Inc.

Antisense Inhibits Ewing's Sarcoma in Mice

May 01, 1995

NEW ORLEANS--A novel therapy, based on antisense RNA technology, targets aberrant fusion products produced by chromosomal translocations and may lead to the loss of tumorigenicity in tumor cells of the Ewing's sarcoma family, a study from Thomas Jefferson University has shown.

Margin Status Predicts Local Recurrence After Lumpectomy

May 01, 1995

SAN ANTONIO--Final excisional margin status proved to be the strongest predictor of local recurrence in a study of more than 300 breast cancer patients treated with breast-conserving surgery and radiation, Melanie C. Smitt, MD, said at the opening general session of the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.

Flaxseed May Interfere With Estrogen Synthesis, Lower Risk of Breast Cancer

May 01, 1995

TORONTO, Canada--Researchers have discovered that a high-fiber grain cultivated since the times of the ancient Egyptians may delay the growth of cancerous tumors. In studies conducted on rats, Lilian Thompson, PhD, of the University of Toronto, found that a component isolated from flaxseed reduced mammary tumor growth by more than 50%.

PPRC Releases Study on Managed Care Physician Payment Plans

May 01, 1995

WASHINGTON--The Physician Payment Review Commission (PPRC) released a study describing how managed care plans select and pay physicians in their networks. The study, conducted by Mathematica Policy Research and the Medical College of Virginia, is the first systematic attempt to compare forms of managed care.

Aminopterin, First Studied in 1948, Appears Poised for Comeback in ALL

May 01, 1995

NEW ORLEANS--An antifolate that has been "shelved" for decades appears to be more potent than methotrexate in the treatment of childhood leukemias and could prove particularly helpful in patients who are not likely to respond to the traditional agent.

New Laws Could Hurt Antitobacco Efforts

May 01, 1995

HOUSTON--Passage of the Contract with America legislation, as currently written, could hinder tobacco control efforts for years to come, a Washington, DC, attorney said at the American Society for Preventive Oncology (ASPO) meeting.

SSO Gives Richard Bloch Its Layman's Award

May 01, 1995

BOSTON--During its 48th Cancer Symposium, the Society of Surgical Oncology (SSO) presented Richard A. Bloch, founder of H&R Block, with its James Ewing Layman's Award, given annually to a nonphysician. The award honors Mr. Bloch for his contribution to improving the care of cancer patients.

CDC Calls HIV a Major Problem in Women and Children

May 01, 1995

ATLANTA--To date, more than 58,000 cases of AIDS have been reported among adult and adolescent women in the United States, as well as more than 5,000 cases among children who acquired the disease perinatally. In 1994 alone, more than 14,000 women (25% of the total to date) were reported with AIDS.

Survey Shows Young Adolescents Are Highly Affected by Tobacco Industry Advertising

May 01, 1995

NEW ORLEANS--Intensive research into cigarette smoking behaviors has offered a glimpse into the minds of many young smokers. A recent survey shows that most preadolescent smokers already have a favorite brand, suggesting that they are highly affected by the tobacco industry's $5 billion annual marketing budget.

Maryland Passes Tough Smoking Law, Rejects Total Indoor Workplace Ban

May 01, 1995

ANNAPOLIS--The General Assembly of Maryland passed into law a bill introduced by Governor Parris Glendenning (D) to ban smoking in every indoor workplace in the state, except for restaurants and bars that hold liquor licenses. The bill was a compromise with the Governor's original intention to include restaurants and bars in the smoking ban. Nevertheless, the law, which went into effect March 29, is considered the most restrictive state law in the nation.

President's Cancer Panel Reviews Human Genome Project

May 01, 1995

BETHESDA, Md--Scientific prog-ress in mapping the human genome has been rapid and remarkable, but development of social and public policy in response to the scientific discoveries has lagged behind and is woefully inadequate, members of the President's Cancer Panel decided after an all-day meeting.

Sibling BMT Matches on the Decline

May 01, 1995

WASHINGTON--As the size of the American family declines, the number of transplants from donors other than human leukocyte antigen (HLA) identical siblings can be expected to rise sharply in coming years, John A. Hansen, MD, said at a meeting on blood and marrow transplantation, sponsored by the Leukemia Society of America.

'Gene Gun' Shoots Down Tumors With Microscopic DNA-Coated Gold Bullets

May 01, 1995

TORONTO, Canada--Oncologists may someday have a powerful new gene delivery tool to help in the war against cancer--a "gene gun" that blasts pure DNA right inside tumor cells. The gun was described at a media conference held in conjunction with the American Association for Cancer Research meeting.

Vans Increase Breast Ca Screening Rates

May 01, 1995

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla--Why would members of a managed care group whose coverage includes mammography not take advantage of the benefit? Focus groups, conducted last year by Sanus, the managed care division of the New York Life Insurance Company, found that the answer was lack of access, said Candy J. Rudy, manager of account services at New York Life/Sanus.

Cancer Patients Tell Their Stories of Survival

May 01, 1995

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla--When the executive director of a retirement community in Salisbury, NC, arranged to have a mobile mammography van come to the facility to screen the residents and employees, she had to be strongly reminded by her colleagues to visit the van herself. The mammogram Meg Veloff had that day proved to be abnormal and led to early detection and successful treatment of a malignancy.

SSO President Calls for Special Training Programs in Surgical Oncology

May 01, 1995

BOSTON--"Our members must stand up as champions of special training in surgical oncology," Society of Surgical Oncology (SSO) president Bernard Gardner, MD, said at the Society's Annual Cancer Symposium. "We must continue to nourish this society because we provide something unique."

New VIG Regimen Is Called Highly Active in Sarcoma

May 01, 1995

LISBON, Portugal--A new regimen that employs escalating doses of etoposide (VePesid) and ifosfamide (Ifex), together with G-CSF (Neupogen), appears to be among the most active combinations tested to date in adult soft-tissue sarcoma, according to a report from the Scandinavian Sarcoma Group

Surprising Data From Prostate Cancer Quality of Life Study

May 01, 1995

LOS ANGELES--A survey of men with and without prostate cancer used four different instruments (see below) to get a clear picture of how treatment decisions affect quality of life, and found some surprising results, Mark S. Litwin, MD, MPH, told Oncology News International.

Court Orders Scientific Misconduct Labels Removed From Fisher's Work

May 01, 1995

WASHINGTON--Bernard Fisher, MD, Distinguished Service Professor of Surgery, University of Pittsburgh, has won a court order requiring that scientific misconduct labels be removed from citations of his papers in federal databases (Cancerlit and Medline).

Bristol-Myers Squibb Award Goes to Folkman

May 01, 1995

NEW YORK--Judah Folkman, MD, who first theorized that tumors form and metastasize by means of angiogenesis, is the winner of the 18th annual Bristol-Myers Squibb Award for Distinguished Achievement in Cancer Research.