NEWS

Two third-generation EGFR inhibitors effective against the T790M mutation, a source of resistance to earlier drugs.
May 21

Preliminary study results support adding the monoclonal antibody to standard therapy for previously treated patients.
May 21

The combination of the CD40 stimulator CP-870,893 and the checkpoint inhibitor tremelimumab is safe, effective.
May 21

Implants deliver multiple drugs directly into tumors, helping researchers determine the most effective one.
May 20

CAR T-cell therapy is well tolerated in patients with solid tumors and provides some clinical benefit.
May 13

New approach produces life-saving cells faster.
May 12

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RESEARCH WATCH

MYC-mediated maintenance of proper mRNA splicing is essential for lymphomagenesis.
May 21

Mutations in the de novo purine biosynthesis enzyme PRPS1 drive thiopurine resistance in relapsed ALL.
May 21

Naturally occurring allogeneic IgG antibodies induce antitumor immunity and tumor rejection in mice.
May 14

Biofilms enhance production of N1,N12-diacetylspermine and other polyamines in colon tumors.
May 14

Active neurons in the tumor microenvironment enhance glioma growth via neuroligin 3 (NLGN3) secretion.
May 7

TP53 loss coincides with hemizygous POLR2A deletion, sensitizing cells to POLR2A inhibition.
May 7

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NOTED THIS WEEK

May 14, 2015

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, screening rates for three cancers either dropped or showed no improvement in 2013, the latest year for which data are available. The report concludes that about 20% of women are not up to date with cervical cancer screening, about 25% of women are not up to date with breast cancer screening, and about 40% of adults are not up to date with colorectal cancer screening.

Roche announced that the FDA approved the cobas KRAS Mutation Test for diagnostic use. The real-time PCR test is designed to identify KRAS mutations in tumor samples from patients with metastatic colo-
rectal cancer and help oncologists determine an appropriate therapy. Treatment with cetux-
imab (Erbitux; Lilly and Bristol-Myers Squibb) or panitumumab (Vectibix; Amgen) may be effective if no KRAS mutation is present.

The World Health Organization (WHO) added 16 cancer treatments to its so-called list of essential medicines, including imatinib (Gleevec; Novartis) and trastuzumab (Herceptin; Roche/Genentech). Because these medicines could have a tremen-
dous impact on public health globally, the WHO wants drug manufacturers and govern-
ments to ensure that the medicines are both available and affordable.

Threshold Pharmaceuticals announced that the FDA granted Fast Track designation to evofosfamide (TH-302), in combination with gemcitabine, for the treatment of previously untreated patients with metastatic or locally advanced, inoperable pancreatic cancer. Last year, the drug earned the same designation for the treatment of advanced soft-tissue sarcoma. Headquartered in South San Francisco, CA, Threshold and Merck KGaA (Darmstadt, Germany) are collaborating on the development of evofosfamide, which is under evaluation in two phase III trials.

Swiss drugmaker Novartis said that the European Commission approved ceritinib (Zykadia) to treat adults with
ALK-positive non–small cell lung cancer previously treated with crizotinib (Xalkori; Pfizer). Outside the European Union, the drug is approved for this indication in 10 countries, including the United States.

IBM announced that it is collaborating with more than a dozen cancer insti-
tutes to accelerate oncologists’ ability to identify and personalize treatment options
for their patients. The institutes will use IBM’s Watson to sift through individual patients’ genetic profiles and electronic medi-
cal records, journal studies, and clinical trial information to find the best possible treatment options for each one. Currently, clinicians can spend weeks combing through such data, but Watson can do it in a few minutes, the company says.

The FDA granted Priority Review status to Novocure’s Optune, in combination with temozolomide chemotherapy, as a first-line treatment for glioblastoma. According to the St. Helier, Jersey, company, Optune uses its Tumor Treating Fields technology to create low-intensity, alternating electric fields within a tumor that exert physical forces on electri-
cally charged cellular components, preventing mitosis and causing apoptosis. In an interim analysis of data from a phase III trial, patients treated with the device and temozolomide had a significant reduction in the risk of disease progression or death compared with temozolo-
mide alone (median progression-free survival of 7.1 months vs. 4.0 months).

The FDA denied a petition from R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company and Amer-
ican Snuff Company to tone down language in one of four required smoke-
less tobacco warning statements.
The companies asked to change “WARNING: This product is not a safe alternative to cigarettes” to “WARNING: No tobacco product is safe, but this product presents substantially lower risks to health than cigarettes” or, barring that, to “WARNING: No tobacco product is safe; however, exclusive use of smokeless tobacco products presents substantially less risk to health than cigarettes.” The FDA said that there was “insufficient evidence to show that the current warning is not factual or mislead-
ing, or that either of the proposed warnings is effective in promoting greater public under-
standing of the risk associated with smokeless tobacco products.”

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RESEARCH WATCH