Issue 46 - Dec. 15, 2017
  • “We’re gonna free the data,” Sharpless pledges at NCI Town Hall

    In his first talk to  NCI staff, director Norman “Ned” Sharpless presented himself as an institute insider—highlighting his career-long relationships with NCI and its “legends,” demonstrating his grasp of the institute’s agenda and research portfolio.

  • Five health systems join Strata Oncology network to sequence and match patients to targeted therapy trials

    Five health care systems have joined a precision oncology network that sequences patients’ tumors at no cost and matches patients to clinical trials.

  • As FDA, AHRQ spar over incidence estimates for uterine sarcomas, FDA reiterates recommendation to restrict power morcellation

    About one in 225 to one in 580 women who undergo surgery for fibroids may have hidden uterine cancers, FDA concluded in a recent review of medical studies published over the past four years.

    The updated estimate is generally consistent with one contained in the agency’s 2014 review, FDA officials said in a statement Dec. 14. Three years ago,  the agency estimated that  one in 350 women undergoing such surgery may have a previously undiagnosed sarcoma.

  • Anticipating fundamental change in oncology

    In 2017, The Cancer Letter’s readership grew by over 40 percent and the number of page views has nearly doubled from the 2016 level.

    On an average day in 2017, our website got over 1,700 visits and over 12,500 page views. By way of comparison, in 2016, we gauged 1,200 visits and 6,800 page views. We are losing the right to call ourselves a small publication.

  • In Brief

    • AACR urges House-Senate conference to remove tax bill provisions penalizing future scientists, patients, survivors
    • 2017 AACR-Bayer Innovation and Discovery Grants recipients announced
    • USPSTF recommends against hormone therapy for preventing chronic conditions 
    • Jason Incorvati joins hem/onc department at New Fox Chase East Norriton Campus
  • Drugs and Targets

    • Fate Therapeutics completes technology transfer and starts IND-enabling manufacture of FT500
Issue 45 - Dec. 8, 2017
  • Building a “hybrid” center by the Beltway, Trump pursues vision of a new national research network

    As he goes about the task of building a cancer center, Donald “Skip” Trump has to align the money, the real estate, the recruitment—all the customary components of an institution.

    Sure, all of this is more complex because Trump is building the Inova Schar Cancer Institute in hyper-competitive and wealthy Northern Virginia, literally by the outer loop of the Beltway.

  • FDA considers using data from approved indications to support regular approvals of sNDAs based on intermediate endpoints

    FDA officials are floating a proposal for a review process informally dubbed “reverse accelerated approval.”

    This mechanism would come into play in situations where the data that have already been provided to the agency may justify approval of supplemental indications.

  • Guest Editorial

    Tobacco companies finally have to say smoking causes cancer

    These statements may not be breaking news for oncologists and other physicians, who should have been aware of the lethal nature of cigarette smoking at least since the publication of the first Surgeon General’s report on Smoking and Health more than half a century ago.

  • In Brief

    • William Oh named deputy director of Tisch Cancer Institute
    • Pisters embarks on “listening tour” at MD Anderson
    • Viviane Tabar named chair of the department of neurosurgery at MSK
    • Aradhana Ghosh named vice president of oncology at Syapse
    • NCI awards $16 million grant to PHSU and Moffitt to strengthen tissue bank, reduce health disparities
    • New national clinical trial investigated link between diabetes and pancreatic cancer
    • Mount Sinai’s Sundar Jagannath wins MMRF award
    • AACR urges Congress to reach bipartisan budget agreement
  • Drugs and Targets

    • FDA grants Avastin full approval for glioblastoma
Issue 44 - Nov. 28, 2017
  • Caligiuri named president of City of Hope National Medical Center

    Michael Caligiuri was named physician-in-chief of City of Hope and president of City of Hope National Medical Center.

    Caligiuri recently stepped down as director of The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center and as CEO of the Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute.

    He will join City of Hope in this newly created position next February. The appointment was announced on Nov. 28.

  • Conversation with the Cancer Letter

    Caligiuri: It was time for me to hit the refresh button on my career

    After 20 years at Ohio State University, Michael Caligiuri is moving on.

    Caligiuri was named physician-in-chief of City of Hope and president of City of Hope National Medical Center on Nov. 28. He stepped down as director of The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center and as CEO of the Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute earlier this month.

  • NCI Director’s Report

    Sharpless lists initial priorities for NCI: Big Data, cell therapy, and more trials at the NIH Clinical Center

    NCI needs to focus on developing a structured approach to Big Data initiatives to ensure optimal use of the institute’s limited resources, said NCI Director Norman “Ned” Sharpless at his first joint meeting of the National Cancer Advisory Board and the Board of Scientific Advisors.

  • FDA approves Foundation Medicine’s genomic profiling test for all solid tumors; CMS proposes coverage

    FDA has approved the FoundationOne CDx, the first breakthrough-designated, next generation sequencing-based in vitro diagnostic test that can detect genetic mutations in 324 genes and two genomic signatures in any solid tumor type.

    The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services—at the same time—proposed coverage of the F1CDx, a laboratory-developed test sponsored by Foundation Medicine.

  • In Brief

    • FDA’s Pazdur named to Bloomberg 50 list
    • National Academies report calls for government negotiation of drug prices
    • Antonio Wolff named chair of ECOG-ACRIN Breast Cancer Committee
    • Louis Weiner to lead MedStar Georgetown Cancer Institute
    • LLS awards $5 million grant to team led by Sylvester’s Stephen Nimer
    • Ronda Henry-Tillman named to Kohn Chair in breast surgical oncology UAMS
    • NCCN, in collaboration with Pfizer, awards nine grants for quality improvement in breast cancer
    • Ronald Maier elected president of American College of Surgeons
    • Leigh Neumayer elected chair of the ACS board of regents
  • Drugs and Targets

    • FDA approves Ogivri, first biosimilar for treating breast and stomach cancers
    • Tesaro receives European approval of Zejula for recurrent ovarian cancer
    • G1 Therapeutics and AstraZeneca enter clinical trials collaboration in NSCLC
    • ITUS Corp. Moffitt enter into CRADA to develop CAR-T technology
Issue 43 - Nov. 17, 2017
  • Defining the next level for Inova

    In 2010, John Knox Singleton, the CEO of the Inova Health System, had several meetings with John Niederhuber, a surgeon and scientist who had just been replaced as NCI director.

    At the time, Niederhuber still had a lab at NIH, but was plotting the next step in his career. Singleton had been Inova’s CEO since 1984.

  • Caligiuri resigns as CEO of the James after stepping down as director of OSUCCC

    Michael Caligiuri, who over the past 14 years demonstrated virtuosity in recruitment, lobbying, and fundraising, building the third-largest cancer hospital in the U.S., has stepped down as director of The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center and as CEO of the Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute.

  • An Appreciation

    Hail to “The Chief” Donald S. Coffey, a scientist, a mentor, a wit, dies at 85

    Donald S. Coffey, Ph.D., cancer warrior, humanist, mentor to hundreds of researchers and physicians, friend to countless people, was filled with a burning curiosity to understand the world and to know personally everyone he came in contact with.

    Everyone has the story—“I met Don at a meeting and he sat me down and he asked me to tell him my life story—and I was forever changed.”

  • In Brief

    • De la Chapelle receives lifetime achievement award from colorectal cancer group
    • Gallagher named vice president and head of Global Oncology Development at AbbVie 
    • Sylvester geneticist Shiekhattar receives NIH “Pioneer Award” 
    • WPI’s Mattson receives $1.7-million NIH award to develop molecular methods
    • LUNGevity partners with ALK Positive Patient Group to fund research
  • Drugs and Targets

    • FDA approves adjuvant indication for Sutent in renal cell carcinoma
    • FDA approves obinutuzumab for previously untreated follicular lymphoma
    • FDA approves Sprycel for pediatric patients with CML
    • FDA approves Genentech’s Hemlibra to prevent bleeding in hemophilia A
    • FDA authorized MSKCC’s tumor profiling tests
Issue 42 - Nov. 10, 2017
  • Skip Trump builds a cancer center by the Beltway

     Should Donald “Skip” Trump look up while talking to you on the phone, he might see deer roaming in the pine forest outside his office window.

    Trump might let his gaze skim the brown granite skin of the building of his cancer center—the Inova Schar Cancer Institute—and watch the proton beam and radiation therapy center take shape.

  • Conversation with the Cancer Letter

    Trump’s plans for Inova reach across the Washington Beltway, through Virginia—and beyond

    Trying to build a cancer center in the middle of a saturated market should be difficult enough.

    Yet, preparing to face the competition from other established cancer centers across the Potomac is just one of the challenges Donald “Skip” Trump faces as CEO and executive director of the Inova Schar Cancer Institute.

  • CMS plan to slash $1.6 billion from 340B program will reduce discounts on cancer drugs

    Hospitals enrolled in the 340B program stand to lose up to $1.6 billion in Medicare Part B reimbursements through upcoming cuts to the drug pricing program, according to a final rule by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

  • In Brief

    • WUSTL’s DiPersio receives $6 million for leukemia research
    • Hopkins researchers launch interdisciplinary effort for breast cancer
    • Gad Getz, Chuan He, and Aviv Regev win Paul Marks Prize
    • Neuroblastoma foundation awards grant to Harvard’s Malgorzata Krajewska
    • Sanford Health wins ACCC David King Award
    • Ohio State receives Press Ganey Guardian of Excellence Award
    • NCI grant will support UA research in “lung cancer stigma”
    • NCCN publishes guidelines for cancer treatment in sub-Saharan Africa
  • Drugs and Targets

    • Alecensa gets FDA approval for ALK-positive metastatic NSCLC
    • FDA approves first treatment for Erdheim-Chester Disease
    • FDA approves Adcetris for cutaneous anaplastic large cell lymphoma
    • Seattle Genetics submits sBLA for Adcetris in Hodgkin lymphoma
Issue 41 - Nov. 3, 2017
  • Conversation with the Cancer Letter

    Peter Pisters reflects on the upcoming challenge: leading MD Anderson

    With a month to go before his Dec. 1 start date as president of MD Anderson Cancer Center, Peter Pisters reflected on the challenges that await him in Houston.

  • House appropriators push back on Trump proposal to cap NIH facilities and administrative costs at 10%

    The Trump administration should consider NIH and the biomedical research enterprise as a component of the nation’s “defense” when making budgetary decisions, said Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee for Labor-HHS, Education, and Related Agencies.

  • In Brief

    • Kelly McMasters named editor of Annals of Surgical Oncology
    • Focused Ultrasound Foundation receives transformative $10 million pledge
    • Cancer imaging archive at UAMS bolstered by $8.3 million NCI grant
    • Wistar, Man’s Best Friend Therapeutics collaborate on veterinary vaccine
    • Bryant Gumbel named 2017 NFL Players Association Georgetown Lombardi Award Recipient
    • Colon Cancer Alliance changes name to Colorectal Cancer Alliance
  • Drugs and Targets

    • FDA approves AstraZeneca’s Calquence for mantle cell lymphoma
    • Consortium aims to accelerate preclinical cancer drug discovery
  • Funding Opportunities

    • The FY17 Defense Appropriations Act provides $10 million to the Department of Defense Kidney Cancer Research Program to support United States Army Medical Research Acquisition Activity 
Issue 40 - Oct. 27, 2017
  • Redefining “normal”: IU’s Komen Tissue Bank shows how race and abnormalities correlate with development of disease

    When two women—a patient advocate and a scientist—embarked on a mission to collect “normal” breast tissue for comparative purposes, colleagues in oncology dismissed their idea as wild.

    In the early 2000s, Connie Rufenbarger, a breast cancer patient advocate, and Anna Maria Storniolo, a professor of clinical medicine at the Indiana University School of Medicine and a member of the Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer Research Laboratories, were attending a meeting in Indianapolis when they realized that oncologists had no source of “true normal” breast tissue to use as control in studies.

  • Conversation with the Cancer Letter

    Storniolo: The Komen Tissue Bank fills the gap in understanding of “normal”

    Ten years ago, the formation of the Komen Tissue Bank at the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center was met with skepticism.

    Critics questioned the ethics of collecting “normal” breast tissue from healthy women who otherwise would have no other reason to undergo biopsies.

    Anna Maria Storniolo, a founder of the tissue bank and now its director, was one of those skeptics—before she started work on the bank in 2005.

  • ACS: Access and socioeconomic factors affect racial disparities in breast cancer mortality rates

    The disparity in survival outcomes between black and white women with breast cancer—the result of a complex interaction of biologic and nonbiologic factors—can be reduced by increasing access to health care in all U.S. states, researchers from the American Cancer Society concluded in a recent study.

  • Dmitrovsky named president of Leidos Biomedical and director of Frederick Lab

    Ethan Dmitrovsky was appointed president Leidos Biomedical Research, Inc. and Laboratory director of the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research.

    Dmitrovsky will succeed the current president, David Heimbrook, who will retire.

    FNLCR is operated by Leidos Biomedical under an operations and technical support contract from NCI worth up to $400 million-a-year.

  • Help Wanted: MD Anderson seeks chief academic officer; Draetta named to the job in the interim

    MD Anderson has begun a search for a chief academic officer.

    Giulio Draetta will serve as CAO ad interim. Draetta is the Sewell Family Chair of Genomic Medicine, senior vice president, discovery and platforms and co-leader of the MD Anderson Moon Shots Program. Until now, Stephen Hahn, deputy president and chief operating officer, also served as interim chief academic officer.

  • In Brief

    • Pat Coyne and Meg Gaines receive NCCS Stovall Award for advancing patient-centered care
    • SU2C launches four teams on “cancer interception” to detect and treat cancer
    • SU2C launches 10 clinical trial projects combining cancer treatments
    • Barbara McAneny receives ACCC award
    • NCCN has one million registered users accessing the guidelines and related content
    • Fox Chase Cancer Center Opens Satellite Office in East Norriton
    • Xiongbin Lu named Vera Bradley Foundation professor of breast cancer innovation at IU
    • The GW Cancer Center announces new mobile mammography van
  • Drugs and Targets

    • FDA accepts Genentech’s application for Avastin for advanced ovarian cancer
    • G100 receives Orphan Drug Designation from EMA for follicular non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
Issue 39 - Oct. 20, 2017
Issue 38 - Oct. 13, 2017
Issue 37 - Oct. 6, 2017
  • Former American Cancer Society CEO John Seffrin endorses cancer research venture funded by Philip Morris

    Philip Morris International, the tobacco company, is spending $1 billion over 12 years on “cancer research,” which will be funded through something called the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World.

    Here at The Cancer Letter, a news item of this sort might have been easily chalked up to crafty PR tactics and thrown the heck out.

    And it would have been, were it not for this tidbit: the press release included a gushing quote from a gentleman named John Seffrin.

  • How PR firms created “dialogue” structure used by cancer groups and tobacco clients

    In January 2000, The Cancer Letter was working on a story about what seemed to be a strange political structure that was being put together by the American Cancer Society.
    The new organization was called the National Dialogue on Cancer, and its objective was to bring everyone interested in cancer into the same political process, and, in the process, to rewrite the National Cancer Act.

    The “dialogue,” which didn’t look like anything I ever saw in cancer politics, was being run—and presumably was set up—by Shandwick International, a PR firm.

  • Conversation with the Cancer Letter

    Matt Myers: Philip Morris has a long history of funding what it calls independent research by previously credible researchers

    The Foundation for Tobacco-Free World is unlikely to win hearts and minds in the tobacco control community, said Matt Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

    The new foundation, which received an $80 million-a-year funding commitment from Philip Morris International, has the support of John Seffrin, former CEO of the American Cancer Society.

    If it is to gain credibility, the group would now need to recruit a board of directors who would be willing to stake their reputations on a venture funded by the makers of Marlboro cigarettes.

  • Conversation with the Cancer Letter

    Allan Erickson: “I think Philip Morris has a long-term goal of a smoke-free world

    Through the controversies triggered by the National Dialogue on Cancer, John Seffrin relied on his ACS ally Allan Erickson.

    Erickson now runs a small group called the National Tobacco Reform Initiative, which includes Seffrin and Derek Yach, head of the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World, which received funding from Philip Morris International to spend $80 million a year on cancer research.

  • Guest Editorial

    The Write Treatment; when a writing workshop is a part of cancer treatment

     

    I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008 and underwent treatment until 2010 at Beth Israel Hospital, now Mount Sinai, in New York. A year after finishing treatment I was thrilled to find out that my novel, Stalina, was a winner of the Amazon Debut Novel Award Contest.

    The prize was a publishing contract. My cancer diagnosis was life changing, but so was becoming a published author. Soon after receiving the wonderful news about my novel, I found signs of a possible relapse of the cancer. Fortunately, tests came back negative. The angst I experienced was an acknowledgment that cancer would always be part of my psyche, if not my body. I wanted to find a constructive way to face these anxieties. I wanted to find a way to give back to the community of patients, doctors and nurses, friends, colleagues, and family who supported me throughout my cancer journey.

  • In Brief

    • Sunil Sharma joins TGen, City of Hope and HonorHealth
    • Wisconsin state budget expands precision medicine in cancer
  • Drugs & Targets

    • FDA approves sNDA for Alunbrig tablets, Takeda announces  
    • FDA grants priority review for Genentech’s Perjeta in adjuvant HER2+ early breast cancer
    • Mylan launches generic Gleevec tablets
    • Amgen, CytomX Therapeutics form  immuno-oncology collaboration