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ISSUE 11 – MARCH 14, 2014PDF


NCI Rethinks Cancer Center Grants

 

NCI is moving toward adopting a formula that will fundamentally restructure the manner in which cancer centers are funded.

The new approach, developed by a working group of the National Cancer Advisory Board, seeks to eliminate the advantage that comes with a center’s longevity in the program.

As it stands, just being in the centers program for many cycles can build up an institution’s funding base. This favors older centers. 

photoRobert Cook-Deegan’s Viewers’ Guide To the Super Bowl of Gene Patent Cases

Patent litigation is a blood sport if you see corporations as people and count spilled ink or loss of money as hemorrhage. 

One of the most closely watched cases in recent years centers on genetic testing for BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. 

On March 10, Judge Robert Shelby from the Federal District Court for Utah denied Myriad Genetics’ motion for a preliminary injunction against its competitors that had entered the market starting June 13, 2013, when the Supreme Court handed down its ruling in Association of Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics.

20140314 - Mar. 14, 2014
ISSUE 10 – MARCH 7, 2014PDF


NIH to Review Intramural Program

NCI’s Intramural Spending is 17 Percent, Higher than 11.1 Percent NIH-Wide Level


NIH has launched a systematic examination of its intramural program, which accounts for 11.1 percent of its $30 billion budget.

The program was last examined in 1993, pursuant to a mandate from the House Appropriations Committee.

That examination was written by a panel co-chaired by Paul Marks, then president of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Gail Cassell, then chair of the University of Alabama Department Microbiology.

photoPresident Requests Extra $200 Mil for NIH

President Barack Obama’s $3.9-trillion budget proposal for the 2015 fiscal year would bump NIH funding up to $30.2 billion—a $200 million increase over fiscal 2014—and would include an additional $8 million for NCI, totaling $4.931 billion for the institute.

photoHPV Vaccines Should be Priority, says President’s Cancer Panel

Human papillomavirus vaccines are underused in the U.S. and need to be made a national public health priority, according to a report from the President’s Cancer Panel.
In a presentation to the National Cancer Advisory Board Feb. 27, panel chair Barbara Rimer outlined three goals to accelerate uptake of HPV vaccines, including having providers strongly encourage HPV vaccination to adolescents when other vaccines are being administered.

photoNCI Publishes Report on Pancreatic Cancer

NCI has issued a report detailing a “scientific framework” for advancing research on pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, indicating potential new funding opportunities for genomic studies for early detection of pancreatic cancer.

The institute’s report is the result of the Recalcitrant Cancer Research Act, a bill proposed by the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, and passed Jan. 2, 2013.

photoIn Brief

  • Pasche named center director at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center
  • Jiali Han named Rachel Cecile Efroymson Professor in Cancer Research at the Indiana University Simon Cancer Center
  • Carol Bier-Laning will lead CTCA Head and Neck Cancer Program
  • Curie-Cancer renews partnership with DNA Therapeutics
  • A correction
20140307 - Mar. 7, 2014
ISSUE 9 – FEB. 28, 2014PDF

Groups Have No Budgets as NCTN Begins Work March 1

Two years ago, NCI officials made a promise to increase the budget of the cooperative groups program by $25.6 million.

The boost, which was approved by the NCI Board of Scientific Advisors, was part of an effort to revamp the groups inspired by a report from the Institute of Medicine.

On March 1, as the cooperative group program officially becomes the NCI National Clinical Trials Network, new money will not be a part of the transformation. 

photoNCI National Lab’s Budget to Grow Over Its $299.2 Million FY2013 Level

The contractor running the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research received nearly $300 million from NCI in the 2013 fiscal year, and is slated for an increase, officials said at a recent advisory committee meeting.

photoIn Brief

  • Van Andel Research Institute to build epigenetics hub

  • Jennifer Doudna named winner of the Foundation for the NIH’s Lurie Prize

  • GRU Cancer Center receives $6 million committment

  • Twenty-six public health organizations call for retailers to stop selling tobacco products

  • ION Solutions selects Foundation Medicine for genomic profiling services

  • Mylan launches first Herceptin biosimilar

  • NeoGenomics launches profiling tests covering 22 cancer categories

  • Clarient adds BRAF diagnostic to its service offerings

20140228 - Feb. 28, 2014
ISSUE 8 – FEB. 21, 2014PDF

NCI Launches M-PACT Next-Generation Trial As Group System Nears March 1 Transition

NCI has launched a pilot study to assess whether assigning cancer patients treatment based on the genetic characteristics of their disease can improve outcomes for patients with advanced metastatic solid tumors.

The Molecular Profiling based Assignment of Cancer Therapeutics, or M-PACT, trial is one of the first to use a randomized trial design to assign treatment based on specific mutations.

photoNCI Clinical Trials Enrollment Drops to 17,500

Enrollment in NCI-sponsored National Clinical Trials Network clinical trials will drop to about 17,500 this fiscal year, the network groups have been told by NCI officials. 

This enrollment figure includes 3,600 pediatric patients, so the total adult enrollment will add up to about 14,000, insiders at cooperative groups say.

photoGAO: FDA Data on Drug Shortages Inadequate

FDA needs to improve its access to data if it is to manage drug shortages more effectively, the Government Accountability Office concluded.

The FDA’s management of drug shortage data is “inconsistent with federal internal control standards,” the GAO report states.

photoDuke’s Dzau Named IOM President

Victor Dzau, chancellor of health affairs at Duke University and president and CEO of the Duke University Health System, was named president of the Institute of Medicine.

Dzau will succeed current IOM president Harvey Fineberg effective July 1.

photoIn Brief

  • NCI’s John Czajkowski to take executive dean position at Harvard Medical School

  • Issam Markhoul named distinguished chair for hematology and oncology at University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

  • Margaret Dimond named president of Karmanos Cancer Hospital

  • North Shore-LIJ Cancer Institute opens $47 million radiation facility

  • Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School Singapore partners with ImaginAb Inc.

  • St. Jude Thanks and Giving campaign rasies over $97 million

  • Roswell Park Cancer Institute to collaborate with GenomOncology

  • Roche Servicios S.A. and Cancer Genetics Inc. enter agreement

  • Novartis acquires CoStim Pharmaceuticals Inc.

20140221 - Feb. 21, 2014
ISSUE 7 – FEB. 14, 2014PDF

A meeting of the FDA Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee has become a rare occurrence.

Why?

Because cancer drugs are getting better, as are applications for their approval, said Richard Pazdur, director of the FDA Office of Hematology and Oncology Products. 

“Drug development is much more focused, and decisions are being made on the basis of understanding the molecular basis of the disease rather than the number of responses observed in an early phase study,” Pazdur said.

photoGuest Editorial 
Once Again, Hype Overshadows Data
In Breast Cancer Screening Debate

By Otis W. Brawley

Studies assessing the merits of cancer screening tend to get a lot of play in the news media. It seems every six months or so a new study makes a big splash.

photoDrasga and Einhorn Respond to Single Payer Proposal Rebuttal

In a recent article published in the Journal of Oncology Practice, oncologists Ray Drasga and Lawrence Einhorn called on their colleagues to support “an improved Medicare for all” program.

The provisions of the Affordable Care Act are insufficient to solve the crises facing American cancer patients, they wrote in the journal published by the American Society for Clinical Oncology.

photoIn Brief

  • Waun Ki Hong will retire as head of MD Anderson Cancer Center’s Division of Cancer Medicine

  • Fraser Symmans named director of CALGB Alliance Translational Research Program

  • American Cancer Society adds five officers to redesigned volunteer board of directors, with Pamela Meyerhoffer as chair

  • John Walter, president and CEO of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, steps down

  • MD Anderson’s Jim Allison awarded Szent-Györgyi Prize

  • AVEO Oncology and Astellas Pharma Inc. to End Tivozanib Agreement 

20140214 - Feb. 14, 2014
ISSUE 6 – FEB. 7, 2014PDF

“Confidential and Proprietary” Document Proposes Plan for National Network

You might think of this as an event isolated to Columbus or central Ohio: 

On Feb. 7, OhioHealth, a health system that operates not-for-profit, faith-based hospitals in central Ohio and competes with Ohio State University, said it would join the outreach network of MD Anderson Cancer Center, located almost 1,200 miles away.

photoConversation with The Cancer Letter 
McKinsey Charge: Create Plan 
To Expand MD Anderson’s Reach

Responding to questions from The Cancer Letter, Jim Newman, director of external communications at MD Anderson, confirmed that the presentation obtained by The Cancer Letter was prepared under a contract by McKinsey & Company.

photoCVS to Stop Tobacco Sales at Pharmacies

CVS Caremark plans to stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products at more than 7,600 CVS/pharmacy stores by Oct. 1.

The country’s largest drug store chain in overall sales estimated that it will forego approximately $2 billion—about 17 cents per share—in revenues on an annual basis from snuffing out Big T.

photoDrug Development
Tivozanib Trial Discontinued Due to Insufficient Enrollment

AVEO Oncology and Astellas Pharma Inc. discontinued a phase II study of tivozanib in locally recurrent or metastatic triple-negative breast cancer due to insufficient enrollment.

photoIn Brief

  • Wendy Selig elected president Of NCCR board of directors

  • Dana-Farber Receives $900,000 for ovarian cancer research

  • Richard Folkers named director of communications for the Foundation for the NIH

  • Sarah Cannon to integrate cancer programs with HealthONE hospitals

  • Amgen and Merck to collaborate on oncolytic immunotherapy

  • Univ. of Pittsburgh selects GenomAnalytics platform for TGCA data

  • Health Canada approves Aptima HPV assay

  • Definiens and Clarient sign agreement over image analysis software

20140207 - Feb. 7, 2014
JANUARY 2014PDF

Pancreatic Cancer

Abraxane-Gemcitabine Combination Extends Overall Survival in Phase III Trial

A phase III trial of Abraxane extended overall survival in metastatic pancreatic cancer, with some patients surviving longer than three years, when used in combination with gemcitabine. 

The updated OS data from the Metastatic Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma Clinical Trial was presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology Gastrointestinal Conference in San Francisco. 

Leukemia
Phase III Trial of Imbruvica Halted, Following
Increases in Progression-Free Survival

A phase III study of Imbruvica in the treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukemia and small lymphocytic lymphoma was stopped early following an interim analysis and at the recommendation of an independent data monitoring committee, which concluded the study demonstrated a significant difference in progression-free survival compared to ofatumumab.

Breast Cancer
Long-term Follow-up Shows ADH and ALH Tissue
Abnormalities Can Carry Similar Risk

Contrary to existing understanding, long-term follow-up of patients with two types of breast tissue abnormalities suggests that both types of abnormalities have the same potential to progress to breast cancer.

Kidney Cancer
Patients on Hypertension Meds Lived Longer, Analysis Shows
Liver Cancer
Post-Hoc Analysis of ThermoDox Suggests OS Improvement
Prostate Cancer
Study: Gene Assay Can Provide Valid Prognostic Information
Colon Cancer
Studies of Oncotype DX Test Presented at ASCO Symposium
Lung Cancer
MicroRNA Assay Detects Cancer Two Years Before LDCT in Study
NCI Approved Trials for the Month of January
FDA News

  • Accelerated Approval granted to Mekinist-Tafinlar combination in unresectable or metastatic melanoma

  • 510(k) Clearance granted to spectral breast density measurement application

  • Reagent system approved for prevention of graft-versus-host disease

  • FDA launches advisory committee membership nomination web portal
  • Orphan drug designation granted to BL-8040 as a treatment for stem cell mobilization
  • FDA lifts clinical hold on tosedostat
  • And more…
20140203 - Feb. 3, 2014
ISSUE 5 – JAN. 31, 2014PDF

Congress Mandates NIH Cut PR Costs, Coordinate Spending on Communications

Congressional appropriators instructed NIH to cut spending on communications activities and coordinate the broad range of activities that fall under the category of public relations.

The mandate is a part of the report that accompanied the recently passed appropriations bill.

photoIPRI’s Peter Boyle on Closing the Gap In Global Cancer Treatment and Outcomes

The International Prevention Research Institute has published “The State of Oncology 2013,” a report that highlights disparate cancer outcomes between higher- and lower-resource countries and proposes long-term recommendations. 

photoPresident Calls For Reversing Cuts to Basic Research Budget

In his state of the union address to Congress Jan. 28, President Barack Obama called for reversing the cuts made to basic research in the federal budget.

photoDrasga, Einhorn Make Appeal For Single-Payer Healthcare

In a feature article published in the Journal of Oncology Practice, oncologists Ray Drasga and Lawrence Einhorn called for their colleagues to endorse single-payer healthcare.

The journal is published by the American Society for Clinical Oncology.

photoACS, SU2C Commit $20 Million For Lung Cancer Dream Team

The American Cancer Society and Stand Up To Cancer announced a collaboration to fund translational research and advocacy programs.

photoIn Brief

  • Indiana University cancer center receives $15 million pledge from Vera Bradley Foundation

  • Hope Funds for Cancer Research announce James D. Watson Award 

  • Dept. of Defense offers $580 million in medical research funding

  • Justin Klamerus named chief quality officer at Karmanos Cancer Institute

  • Angela Davies named chief medical officer of Champions Oncology

  • UCSF and Quest Diagnostics form collaboration

  • John Porter to receive Public Welfare Medal from the National Academy of Sciences

photoFDA News

  • FDA lifts clinical hold on tosedostat

  • U.K. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence issues final opinion on Pixuvri

20140131 - Jan. 31, 2014
ISSUE 4 – JAN. 24, 2014PDF

Conversation with The Cancer Letter:
Seffrin To Retire After Restructuring ACS

The American Cancer Society has started a search to replace its chief executive officer, John Seffrin.

Seffrin, who became the CEO in 1992, recently completed streamlining of the society’s organizational structure, eliminating the autonomy of divisions, decreasing the number of board members, and making the century-old organization into a single corporate entity.

photoASCO, COA Present Plans For Cancer Care
Beyond the Fee-for-Service Pay Structure

The Community Oncology Alliance and the American Society of Clinical Oncology issued a joint statement on payment reform in cancer care and proposed alternative approaches to paying for cancer care. 

photoKomen Officials Say Charity is Stabilizing Despite 22 Percent Drop in Contributions

The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation reported a 22 percent decline in contributions in fiscal 2013—totalling over $77 million—in recent financial statements.

Overall, the charity’s revenues fell by 18 percent from the 2012 fiscal year.

photoFDA News

  • Reagent system approved for the prevention of Graft-Versus-Host Disease

  • FDA launches advisory committee membership nomination web portal 

  • Orphan designation granted to BL-8040 for stem cell mobilization

  • EU CHMP issues positive opinion for Roche’s subcutaneous MabThera

20140124 - Jan. 24, 2014
ISSUE 3 – JAN. 17, 2014PDF

Officials: “Separations” in Normal Range
As Critics Claim Brain Drain in the Clinic

When surveyed by the Faculty Senate in October 2012, nearly a third of faculty members at MD Anderson Cancer Center who responded said they were likely to leave the institution within three years.

Of that number, 9.3 percent said they were likely to leave within one year.

photoAs Leadership Changes Continue, Fontaine, Leach Get New Posts
In another round of changes in the executive suite at MD Anderson Cancer Center, Dan Fontaine was appointed head the institutional advancement division, President Ronald DePinho announced in an email to the faculty and staff. 
photoNIH, NCI Get Higher Funding in 2014 Budget
Congress has passed a $1.012 trillion omnibus spending bill, easing the sequestration cuts set for fiscal 2014 and keeping the government open through September. President Barack Obama is expected to sign the bill by Saturday.
photoCDC: Lung Cancer Rates Drop Following Anti-Smoking Efforts
The rate of new lung cancer cases decreased among men and women from 2005 to 2009, largely due to tobacco control efforts, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
photoHoward Hughes Medical Institute Seeks up to 25 New Researchers
The Howard Hughes Medical Institute is seeking to appoint up to 25 new biomedical researchers through a national open competition. The initiative represents an investment of approximately $150 million in basic biomedical research over the next five years.
photoIn Brief

  • Baylor campus plans to build joint cancer center 
  • Beck named deputy director at Fox Chase Cancer Center 
  • Burtness named co-director of Yale Cancer Center Developmental Therapeutics Research Program
  • Dmitri Alden elected to French National Academy of Surgery
  • MD Anderson and Pfizer to launch immunotherapy collaboration
  • Regeneron Pharmaceuticals and Geisenger Health System to collaborate on genomics
20140117 - Jan. 17, 2014