Oncology NEWS International Vol 4 No 9

New Probe Detects Fusion of bcr/abl

September 01, 1995

DOWNERS GROVE, Ill--Vysis Inc. has announced the availability of the Locus Specific Identifier (LSITM) bcr/abl translocation probe, a dual-color probe mixture that detects gene fusion of the bcr and abl genes.

Avon's Breast Cancer Crusade to Offer 'Pink Ribbon' Pens

September 01, 1995

NEW YORK--Avon's Breast Cancer Awareness Crusade, which has raised $10 million through the sales of its $2 pink ribbon pin, has now introduced a pink-enameled ballpoint pen. The new pen, which bears the ribbon motif on its clip, will be available in October, 1995, at a cost of $3.

Take a Behind the Scenes Look at ODAC

September 01, 1995

This two-part article provides a behind the scenes look at the workings of the FDA Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee (ODAC), based on interviews by Washington Bureau Chief Margot Fromer with the ODAC administrator, current chairman, and immediate past chairman. Part 1 describes ODAC's duties and how members are selected. Part 2, to appear next month, outlines a typical meeting and tells how FDA uses ODAC's recommendations.

Panel Favors Approval of Gemzar for Use In Patients With Late Stage Pancreatic Cancer

September 01, 1995

ROCKVILLE, Md--Because advanced pancreatic cancer is a devastating disease with no effective treatment, members of the FDA Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee (ODAC) voted to recommend approval of the nucleoside analog Gemzar (gemcitabine hydrochloride, Eli Lilly) as a first-line treatment for patients with nonresectable stage II, stage III, or metastatic (stage IV) adenocarcinoma of the pancreas.

High-Dose Chemo Patients to Get Stem Cells With the MDR-1 Gene

September 01, 1995

GAITHERSBURG, Md--Genetic Therapy, Inc. has begun phase I testing of a gene therapy protocol designed to protect patients' blood from the destructive effects of high-dose chemotherapy. The trial, headed by Kenneth H. Cowan, MD, PhD, of the NCI, will include approximately 18 metastatic breast cancer patients being treated at the NIH.

Where Are We Going and What Questions Do We Need to Ask?

September 01, 1995

This column is the first in a series of articles in Oncology News International that will focus on the impact of managed care on oncology practice. The series will discuss aspects of managed care that need to be considered by oncologists, either in communities or in academic centers, to remain state-of-the-art into the 21st century.

Phase I Trial of Circadian Patterned Infusion of Continuous IL-2 Opens

September 01, 1995

MANHASSET, NY--North Shore University Hospital-Cornell University Medical College has announced the start of a phase I study of continuous infusion interleukin-2 given with a circadian modified pattern (CORN 9476).

Hodgkin's Disease Patients Sought for Trial of MoAb

September 01, 1995

BOSTON, Mass--Researchers at New England Deaconess Hospital are seeking Hodgkin's disease patients for a federally funded phase Ib/II trial of a humanized monoclonal antibody (MoAb) against interleukin-2 receptor (Tac).

New Health Care Insurance Reform Legislation Introduced in the Senate

September 01, 1995

WASHINGTON--Sen. Nancy Kas-sebaum (R-KS) and Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) have proposed health reform legislation that is more modest than that touted by President Clinton, but that contains some of the same goals.

FDA Approves Phase II Trials of Agouron's HIV Protease Inhibitor

September 01, 1995

LA JOLLA, Calif--Agouron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. has received FDA approval to extend its phase II clinical trials of AG1343, conducted in England, to the United States. Under an investigational new drug application, researchers at the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center, New York, and Conant Medical Group, San Francisco, will evaluate alternative daily doses of the oral agent in approximately 30 patients.

House committee Recommends Budget Increases for NIH, NCI

September 01, 1995

WASHINGTON--In a surprise move, the House Labor, HHS and Education Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee voted to increase NIH funding by about $642 million for FY 1996. NCI's 1996 budget of $2.25 billion represents a $31 million increase over the current budget.

Two New Appointees at the NCI

September 01, 1995

BETHESDA, Md--Carol Mans-field, MD, professor of radiation oncology, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, has been appointed chief of NCI's Radiation Research Program. She is former president of the American Radium Society and the American Cancer Society, Philadelphia Division.

Chemo Plus Transplant Promising For Advanced Hepatocellular Cancer

September 01, 1995

MONTREAL, Canada--Combining neoadjuvant chemotherapy and liver transplantation appears to be a very encouraging approach for patients with advanced stage primary hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), Brian I. Carr, MD, FRCP, PhD, said at the 19th International Congress of Chemotherapy.

Existing Pain Drugs Can Spare Kids Lumbar Puncture Trauma

September 01, 1995

CRYSTAL CITY, Va--Pain due to cancer or cancer treatments or procedures can present special problems in pediatric patients, making life more difficult for everyone who must deal with the children, including the oncologist, Jo Eland, RN, PhD, said at the 25th Anniversary Conference of the Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation.

A Reporter Remembers Mickey--'A Baseball's Value'

September 01, 1995

As last summer's tale of failed miracles, heroics, and redemption played itself out at Baylor University Medical Center, I struggled to explain to my teenage daughter why Mickey Mantle's liver cancer (and the bottom-of-the-ninth transplant that pushed the game into extra innings) was front page news.

New Galveston Center Gets Its First Director

September 01, 1995

GALVESTON, Tex--W. Stratford May, Jr., MD, PhD, has been appointed the first director of the Sealy Center for Oncology and Hematology at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. He was also named the Bill and Louise Bauer Distinguished Professor in Cancer Research and director of the Division of Hematology/Oncology in the Department of Internal Medicine.

Zinecard Approved For Marketing

September 01, 1995

DUBLIN, Ohio--Pharmacia Inc. has received FDA approval to market Zinecard (dexrazoxane for injection), a new agent for reducing the incidence and severity of cardiomyopathy associated with doxorubicin (Adriamycin) administration in women with metastatic breast cancer. The indication is for patients who have received a cumulative doxorubicin dose of 300 mg/m² and, in their physician's opinion, would benefit from continuing doxorubicin therapy.

New TS Inhibitor for Advanced Colon Cancer

September 01, 1995

MONTREAL, Canada--Tomudex (ZD1694), a new direct and specific thymidylate synthase (TS) inhibitor, has been shown to be especially promising for the treatment of patients with advanced colorectal cancer, David Cunningham, MD, said at the 19th International Congress of Chemotherapy.

NIH Consensus Panel's Recommendations for Ovarian Cancer Screening Revisited for Ob/Gyns

September 01, 1995

SAN FRANCISCO--Enhanced concern by the medical community and by women themselves prompted the National Institutes of Health's Office of Medical Applications of Research to convene last year's consensus conference on ovarian cancer, Vicki Seltzer, MD, said at the annual meeting of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).

Ribozymes Are Centerpiece of Gene Therapy for HIV Disease

September 01, 1995

MONTREAL, Canada--The centerpiece of efforts to develop gene therapy to treat human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) disease at the University of California, San Diego, has been the use of ribozymes, Flossie Wong-Staal, PhD, said at the 19th International Congress of Chemotherapy.

Health Care-Related Legislation

September 01, 1995

HR1725, a bill introduced by Sen. Mink (D-HI), to amend the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act to remove the requirement that exposure resulting in stomach cancer occur before age 30.

Registry of Pregnancies Exposed to Chemo

September 01, 1995

The University of Pittsburgh registry of pregnancies exposed to cancer chemotherapy now has more than 260 cases on file. The registry, a summary of published and unpublished outcomes of such pregnancies, is available to expedite counseling for concerned patients and clinicians who may face dilemmas in weighing the benefits of cancer therapy against the risks of teratogenicity.

Agency Lags Behind Private Sector in Guideline Development

September 01, 1995

LONG BEACH, Calif--The Office of Technology Assessment recently gave a rather harsh assessment of the performance of the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR), stating in its report that the agency has been largely unsuccessful in evaluating treatments, in preparing practice guidelines, and in saving significant health-care dollars, said Samuel Turner, an attorney with Fox, Bennett & Turner, Washington, DC.

Medicare to Extend Coverage of Diagnostic Mammography to Men

September 01, 1995

WASHINGTON--Medicare coverage for diagnostic mammography has been extended to include men. The Federal Register published a correction to the regulation that had inadvertently omitted men from coverage, but it should be noted that men are not included in coverage for screening mammograms.

The Candlelighters Celebrate 25 Years Of Pediatric Cancer Support, Advocacy

September 01, 1995

CRYSTAL CITY, Va--Candle-lighters Childhood Cancer Foundation, headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, met to celebrate its 25th anniversary, to update the 550 parents and children with cancer who attended the meeting, and to honor individuals and organizations making a contribution to childhood cancer research.

Two Markers May Aid in Breast Cancer Detection

September 01, 1995

NEW YORK--Early detection of breast cancer may be improved when CA 15-3 and tissue polypeptide-specific antigen (TPS) are used in conjunction with mammography and palpation, Vivian Barak, PhD, of Hadassah Hebrew University Hospital, Jerusalem, said at the 12th Annual International Conference on Human Tumor Markers.

Taxotere Approved in Canada for Advanced Breast Cancer and NSCLC

September 01, 1995

COLLEGEVILLE, Pa--Rhône-Poulenc Rorer Inc.'s Taxotere (docetaxel) has received approval from the Canadian Health Protection Branch for use as second-line treatment of advanced breast and non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The new drug submission was based on clinical trials involving more than 800 patients worldwide.

Conformal Method Of Neutron/Proton Radiation Promising

September 01, 1995

SEATTLE--A mixture of neutron radiation with conventional photon radiation, using a custom tailored pelvic template for each patient, appears to provide more effective therapy for prostate cancer than photon radiation alone (eg, external beam or I-125), while reducing the complications caused by neutron radiation alone, said Jeffrey Forman, MD, of Wayne State University, Detroit.

RODEO MRI Technique Under Study in Breast Cancer Patients

September 01, 1995

DALLAS--Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the breast has recently generated much excitement as a means of improving the specificity of mam-mography and thus reducing the number of negative biopsies, Steven E. Harms, MD, of Baylor University Medical Center, said in an interview with Oncology News International.

Breast Cancer Tops List of Malpractice Claims

September 01, 1995

WASHINGTON--Breast cancer leads the list of diseases for which malpractice claims have been filed in the last decade, according to a study from the Physician Insurers Association of America. Of 117,000 claims filed since 1985, about 2,500 involved breast cancer.

Aredia Recommended for New Indication in Multiple Myeloma

September 01, 1995

ROCKVILLE, Md--In a move with very little precedent, the FDA Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee (ODAC) recommended approval of a new indication for the bisphosphonate Aredia (pam-idronate disodium for injection) on the basis of a single clinical trial.

State Initiatives Aim to Improve Pain Relief

September 01, 1995

ANNAPOLIS, Md--"Of the 1 million people diagnosed with cancer each year, at least half will not receive adequate pain control," said June L. Dahl, PhD, professor of pharmacology, University of Wisconsin Medical School, and chair, Wisconsin Cancer Pain Initiative.

GAO Finds Community Health Centers Are Leaning Toward Managed Care

September 01, 1995

WASHINGTON--As more states use prepaid managed care to control costs and improve access for Medicaid patients, the number of participating community health centers continues to grow. The Government Accounting Office (GAO) finds that such financial arrangements are not incompatible with a mission of delivering health care to the medically underserved, but that these institutions face substantial risks and challenges, which require new knowledge, skills, and information systems.

PSA Density a More Accurate Screen Than PSA

September 01, 1995

SEATTLE--A study of 1,695 cancer-free men found that PSA density provides a far more accurate screening assay for detection of prostate cancer than PSA serum concentration, Robert Kane, MD, of Harvard Medical School, said at the Pacific Northwest Cancer Foundation Meeting on Transperineal Brachytherapy for Early Stage Prostate Cancer.

Tips for Patients on Maintaining Weight During Cancer Therapy

September 01, 1995

NEW YORK--Getting good nutrition can be hard for patients undergoing cancer treatment. But taking in as much nourishment as possible while they still have an appetite can help, advises Memorial Sloan-Kettering dietitian Maria Biasucci.

Thyroid Cancer Funds Go to New Jersey Center

September 01, 1995

NEWARK, NJ--The Garden State Cancer Center has received a research grant of $605,000 from the FDA to develop a new treatment for medullary thyroid carcinoma. "The new therapy is based upon antibodies we have developed that target this cancer very selectively," said Dr. Malik Juweid, director of nuclear medicine and principal investigator on the grant.