NEWS

Protein that holds tumor cells together may provide a potential drug target.
September 18

A 27-point action plan addresses underrepresentation of women, minorities, and older people in trials.
September 18

New trial will assess value of choosing therapies based on molecular defects.
September 18

Gene-editing system allows for rapid assessment of cancer-associated mutations.
September 11

Clostridium novyi shrinks tumors in rats, dogs, and one human patient.
September 11

NIH project to expand knowledge of the genome’s “dark matter.”
September 11

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RESEARCH WATCH

RBM4 inhibits cancer cell growth and migration by regulating cancer-associated gene splicing.
September 18

A NOTCH1-bound MYC enhancer is necessary for normal T-cell development and NOTCH1-induced T-ALL.
September 18

Combined ALK and IGF1R blockade synergistically inhibits ALK fusion–positive lung cancer growth.
September 11

A high-fat diet alters the composition of the gut microbiome to promote intestinal tumorigenesis.
September 11

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NOTED THIS WEEK

September 18, 2014

Nearly 300 organizations partnered in the Rally for Medical Research Hill Day in Washington, DC, to press senators and representatives to increase NIH funding and celebrate medical research.

Patients with KRAS-mutant pancreatic cancer who received the experimental drug Reolysin had a median progression-free survival (PFS) of 5.72 months compared with 4.11 months for those in the control arm—a 39% improvement, Calgary, Canada’s Oncolytics Biotech announced. The randomized phase II study compared carboplatin, paclitaxel, and Reolysin, a proprietary formulation of the human reovirus, to carboplatin and paclitaxel alone.

Gilead Sciences said that its simtuzumab, in combination with chemotherapy, did not significantly improve PFS in previously untreated patients with advanced pancreatic cancer compared with a placebo plus chemotherapy in a phase II trial. Simtuzumab is also under study for use in colorectal cancer, myelofibrosis, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, and liver fibrosis.

According to a study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 43% of women between 40 and 74 years old in the United States have mammographically dense breasts, which can make mammo-
grams more difficult to read accurately. The finding provides a rationale for legislation requiring that women be notified if they have dense breasts, the researchers say. In addition, these women should work with their clinician to evaluate their risk of breast cancer and pursue additional screenings if appropriate.

Bethesda, MD–based Northwest Biotherapeutics announced that its DCVax-L, an immunotherapy under development for all malignant gliomas, is the first product to receive the UK’s Promising Innovative Medicine (PIM) certification. Akin to the FDA’s Breakthrough Therapy status, PIM designation is the initial step in the UK’s Early Access to Medicines Scheme, which aims to speed patient access to medicines where there is an unmet medical need.

High-risk prostate cancer patients who receive radiation therapy and an 18-month course of androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) recover a normal testosterone level more quickly than those who receive a 36-month course of ADT, resulting in a better quality of life—without detriment to long-term outcomes, according to research presented at the American Society for Radiation Oncology’s annual meeting in San Francisco, CA. The findings were based on data from 561 patients with high-risk prostate cancer enrolled in a multicenter, randomized phase III trial in Canada.

Data released by the Department of Health in New York, NY, show that 16% of the city’s adults smoked in 2013, up from 14% in 2010, the city’s lowest recorded smoking rate. The increase is surprising, experts said, because smoking rates are generally falling across the country and because the city’s former mayor, Michael Bloomberg, who served for 12 years beginning in 2002, oversaw efforts to decrease smoking by banning it in public places and increasing taxes on tobacco products.

To mark its 50th anniversary, the American Society of Clinical Oncology announced the “Top 5 Advances in 50 Years of Modern Oncology,” based on more than 2,000 votes from around the world: a four-drug chemotherapy regimen called MOPP that cures advanced Hodgkin lymphoma; the approval of a human papillomavirus vaccine to prevent cervical cancer; the approval of imatinib (Gleevec; Novartis) for the treatment of chronic myeloid leukemia; a three-drug chemotherapy regimen called PVB that cures men with testicular cancer; and the approval of antinausea drugs to improve cancer patients’ quality of life.

RESEARCH WATCH