NEWS

To better identify and interpret genetic alterations, paired analyses with normal DNA are essential.
April 30

Revamped RFA process narrows list of questions while giving researchers more time to apply.
April 30

Study is first to show that vaccine protects against oral, anal, and cervical infections, even in those previously exposed.
April 22

Mutations in DNA damage repair genes beyond BRCA1/2 predict sensitivity to PARP inhibition.
April 22

Investigational PD-L1–targeted agent improved survival and produced complete responses in two patients.
April 21

Combining immunotherapies is more effective than monotherapy, but doing so increases risk of toxicity.
April 21

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RESEARCH WATCH

STINGVAX, a GM-CSF–secreting vaccine with cyclic dinucleotides (CDN), shows antitumor activity.
April 30

A subset of ALK- anaplastic large cell lymphomas exhibit constitutive activation of STAT3 signaling.
April 30

High-complexity DNA barcoding suggests that rare resistant clones are present prior to therapy.
April 23

FcγRIIB inhibitory antibodies enhance anti-CD20 therapy and resensitize refractory CLL cells.
April 23

Polyclonal seeding and metastasis-to-metastasis spread are frequently observed in prostate cancer.
April 16

SERPINE2 and SLPI drive metastasis by enabling breast cancer cells to form vascular-like networks.
April 16

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NOTED THIS WEEK

April 30, 2015

Eli Lilly and Company received a fourth FDA approval for ramucirumab (Cyramza), an antiangiogenic therapy that blocks VEGFR2. It can now be used in combi-
nation with FOLFIRI chemotherapy for the treatment of patients with metastatic colo-
rectal cancer whose disease progresses on or after therapy with bevacizumab (Avastin; Genentech/Roche), oxaliplatin, and a fluoro-
pyrimidine. Ramucirumab is also approved for patients with advanced or metastatic stomach cancer, gastroesophageal junction adeno-
carcinoma, and non–small cell lung cancer.

Summit, NJ–based Celgene inked a $450 million deal with Astra-Zeneca to develop the PD-L1 inhibitor MEDI4736 for non-Hodgkin lymphoma, multiple mye-
loma, and other related malignancies. Astra-
Zeneca will also pay $250 million to France’s Innate Pharma to license the immunothera-
peutic IPH2201 as a monotherapy and in combination with MEDI4736. Those deals came a day after AstraZeneca partnered with Juno Therapeutics to test that company’s CAR-T technology with MEDI4736 in blood cancers, Fierce Biotech reported.

Celgene also announced that it will acquire Quanticel Pharmaceuticals, a privately held biotechnology company head-
quartered in San Francisco, CA, focused on cancer drug discovery, for $100 million up front and as much as $385 million more in contingency payments. The deal gives Celgene access to Quanticel’s proprietary platform for the single-cell genomic analysis of human cancers.

An FDA advisory committee voted 22–1 to recommend approval of Amgen’s oncolytic immunotherapy talimogene laherparepvec, or T-VEC, for the treatment of metastatic melanoma. Injected into tumors, T-VEC replicates inside cancer cells, causing them to rupture and release tumor-derived antigens, along with granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor, which can prompt an immune response. The FDA usually follows the recommendations of its advisory panel.

Acting on a positive recommendation from the European Medicines Agency, the European Commission granted orphan drug designation to VentiRx Pharmaceu-
ticals’ motolimod (VTX-2337) for the treatment of ovarian cancer.
Used in combination with pegylated liposomal doxo-
rubicin, motolimod is a novel Toll-like receptor 8 immunotherapeutic being assessed in a phase II randomized, placebo-controlled trial.

ImmunoGen disclosed that the antibody–drug conjugate it licensed to Sanofi for development, SAR3419, has been dropped from that company’s oncology pipeline. The agent was designed to treat diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) and other blood cancers. It had shown potential as a second-line therapy for DLBCL in a phase II study.

In a survey of 7,000 people, 98% said that they want to be informed if resear-
chers using their genetic data stumble upon indicators of a life-threatening disease
that could be prevented or treated. Fewer people were interested in knowing about less serious conditions or genetic data
of “uncertain clinical significance.” Led by the UK’s Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, the study was published in the European Journal of Human Genetics.

Originally established as the health arm of the National Academy of Sciences in 1970, the Institute of Medicine will change its name to the National Academy of Medicine on July 1. With the National Academy of Engineering, the three honorific societies advise the country on matters of science, technology and health.

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RESEARCH WATCH