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Issue 30 - Jul. 29, 2016
  • Foundation Medicine Contributes 18,000 Cases to NCI’s Genomic Data Commons

    When the Genomic Data Commons opened June 6, the $20 million portal that consolidates NCI’s datasets contained genomic information from 14,500 patients.

    Before the end of the month, that number jumped to 32,500, as a result of a contribution from Foundation Medicine Inc., a molecular information company founded in 2011.

    The GDC was announced in June by Vice President Joe Biden as part of the National Cancer Moonshot Initiative.

    “We’re adding 18,000 cases from Foundation,” said Louis Staudt, director of the NCI Center for Cancer Genomics. “Many important cancer genes, up to 287, have been sequenced by Foundation in these cases. We applaud their public spirit, and we are really glad that they anted up.”

  • Conversation with The Cancer Letter

    Pellini: Data Sharing Central to Mission At Foundation Medicine

    Making data broadly available to clinicians and researchers has always been a part of the mission for Foundation Medicine Inc., said Michael Pellini, the company’s CEO.

    “We are proud to say the data that we contributed represents an important part of the GDC in terms of its sheer size,” said Pellini, discussing FMI’s decision to contribute 18,000 de-identified patient cases to NCI’s Genomic Data Commons.

  • Conversation with The Cancer Letter

    Staudt: Foundation Medicine’s “Philanthropy of Data” More Than Doubles GDC Portfolio

    Foundation Medicine approached NCI with the idea to make their data useful in the public domain.

    “They had heard through a variety of mechanisms that we were doing the Genomic Data Commons, and they thought this was a good possible fit,” said Louis Staudt, director of the NCI Center for Cancer Genomics. “In the end, it did turn out to be good for both of us.”

    Foundation donated the data from 18,000 de-identified cases, more than doubling the GDC’s total, up to 32,500.

  • Funding Opportunity

    Shire, ACMG Foundation Offering Fellowships in Medical Genetics

    Applications are being accepted for the ACMG Foundation/Shire Laboratory Geneticist Fellowship Awards and Clinical Genetics Residency Program. The program will facilitate 10 one-to-two-year training awards for medical geneticists over the next three years, after a $1.65 million commitment from Shire.

    Applications are available online and will be due in early September for residency programs accredited by the American Board of Medical Genetics and Genomics, beginning in July 2017.

  • Drugs and Targets

    • CHMP issues positive opinion for Onivyde 
    • EMA grants PRIME designation to DNX-2401
    • Mylan and Biocon submit marketing application to EMA for biosimilar Pegfilgrastim
Issue 29 - Jul. 22, 2016
  • Health Centers Limit Reach of Texas Law Allowing Guns on University Campuses

    This may not be the sort of targeted therapy Texas healthcare institutions wish to be known for, but starting Aug. 1, visitors to designated areas at MD Anderson Cancer Center, UT Southwestern, and UT Health Science Center at San Antonio will be able to carry their guns.

    Texas Senate Bill 11, colloquially known as “campus carry,” decrees that “concealed handgun license holders can from now on carry handguns in a concealed fashion at institutions of higher education.”

    Controversy in Texas is fueled by belief of some that gun-carrying, law-abiding citizens are owed the opportunity to defend themselves.

    On the other side of this debate are doctors who—if an MD Anderson survey is an indication—don’t welcome the opportunity to pack heat, and believe that guns would, in fact, make them less safe in the workplace.

  • Conversation with The Cancer Letter

    Weber: We Cannot Completely Ban Guns From MD Anderson’s Campus

    In response to Texas concealed carry laws, MD Anderson proposed a plan that would allow guns only in designated buildings—the rest, specifically areas of worship and hospital facilities, are gun-exclusion zones.

    The UT System Board of Regents approved the cancer center’s recommendations on campus carry July 15.

    “We cannot invoke a policy that explicitly or implicitly bans guns from campus, so the primary message was we are going to follow Texas law,” said Max Weber, associate vice president and deputy chief compliance officer at University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. “I think we sort of fell into this law incidentally…

    “We are a comprehensive cancer center. We are in the business of healing and curing cancer. We’re not a traditional school or university.”

  • Speaking of Guns

    MD Anderson Faculty, Staff Responses to Gun Survey

    MD Anderson surveyed 450 faculty, trainees and staff Sept. 29 through Nov. 10, 2015, to gather their opinions on campus-carry gun laws. Here’s what they said:

    “The American Medical Association has identified gun use and gun violence as a major medical problem in the US. Therefore, it is incumbent upon us as a health care institution to reflect the medical priorities and the values of those of us who have taken oaths to care for the health of others.”

  • BSA and NCAB Approve Three Concepts

    At a June 21 joint meeting, the NCI Board of Scientific Advisors and the National Cancer Advisory Board approved three concepts and deferred one.

  • In Brief

    • UC Santa Cruz receives $2.5 million grant from St. Baldrick’s for Treehouse initiative
    • Susan Pitt receives young investigator award from UW Carbone Cancer Center
    • Charles Simone II named medical director at Maryland Proton Treatment Center
    • Abishek Aphale named assistant professor of dermatology at Fox Chase
    • Rajeswari Nagarathinam joins Fox Chase department of pathology
    • Vy Dinh and Mariana Khawand-Azoulai join Miami Cancer Institute
    • NIH to work with Wondros communications firm for Precision Medicine Initiative
    • Merck to build new campus in Burlington, Mass.
  • Drugs and Targets

    • Health Canada approves Imbruvica in untreated CLL
    • CHMP issues positive opinion for Kisplyx in renal cell carcinoma
    • GlaxoSmithKline and University of Leicester to form collaboration
Issue 28 - Jul. 15, 2016
  • New NCI Clinical Trials Program Will Automate Matching Through Third-Party Data Software

    NCI is developing an open-source application intended to make it easier for patients and physicians to get information on clinical trials supported by the institute.

    Vice President Joe Biden endorsed the initiative June 29 at the National Cancer Moonshot Summit in Washington, D.C., saying it will “strengthen participation in cancer research studies to help accelerate medical discoveries and treatments for cancer.”

    When the institute’s application programming interface—a set of routine definitions, protocols, and tools for building software—is completed, data companies and programmers will be able to incorporate information on NCI-sponsored trials into their bioinformatics software. This enables physicians to search NCI’s clinical trials database via a more targeted and intuitive process eventually provided by any third-party software that uses the API.

  • Conversation with The Cancer Letter

    Kibbe: Anyone Can Build Search Interface With Open-Source NCI Clinical Trials API

    Vice President Joe Biden announced a new NCI application programming interface June 29 that will enable third-party developers to connect their bioinformatics software to NCI’s clinical trials database.

    When completed, the API is expected to improve access to the data available from NCI on cancer clinical trials that are supported by the institute.

  • Capitol Hill

    House Committee Approves Spending Bill Cutting Funding for CDC Anti-Smoking Programs

    The House Appropriations Committee approved a bill that would fund the Department of Health and Human Services through 2017, including the NIH, NCI and other related agencies.

    Released last week, the bill includes $161.6 billion in discretionary funding—a $569 million reduction below levels enacted for the 2016 fiscal year. However, the bill increases funding for the NIH by $1.25 billion and the NCI by $264 million.

    The bill contains several provisions to defund implementation of the Affordable Care Act, and prohibits the use of new discretionary funding for the president’s signature health care law. The committee considered more than 30 amendments over two days before approving the bill in a 31-19 vote July 14.

  • Capitol Hill

    Bill Introduced to Mandate Pediatric Clinical Trials

  • Obituary

    Alfred Knudson, Author of Two-Hit Hypothesis, Dies at 93

    Alfred G. Knudson Jr., the creator of the “two-hit hypothesis,” and a director of the Institute for Cancer Research at Fox Chase Cancer Center, died July 10. He was 93.

    The two-hit hypothesis postulates that cancer is produced by accumulated mutations in a cell’s DNA. The hypothesis explains the relationship between the hereditary and non-hereditary forms of cancer, and predicted the existence of tumor-suppressor genes that can suppress cancer cell growth.

  • In Brief

    • NCI announces 13 winners of its Cancer Clinical Investigator Team Leadership Award winners
    • Jeff Boyd receives ovarian cancer research award from the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Alliance
    • Daniel Shasha joins Northside Radiation Oncology Consultants
    • Michelle Russell-Einhorn joins Schulman IRB
    • Regeneron Pharmaceuticals names three winners of its Regeneron Prize for Creative Innovation
    • American Society for Radiation Oncology elects five officers to board of directors
    • Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation and Van Auken Private Foundation announces team award winners
    • USC Norris and Trovagene to collaborate on liquid biopsy testing
  • Drugs and Targets

    • FDA approves Roche cobas HPV test with BD SurePath specimen vial
    • Health Canada approves Tagrisso in non-small cell lung cancer
    • FDA grants Rare Pediatric Disease Designation to ABT-414
    • FDA grants Orphan Drug Designation to TK216
    • FDA approves premarket supplement application for Novocure’s second-generation Optune system
    • U.K.’s NICE recommends use of Firmagon in prostate cancer
    • Guardant Health and OncoMed Pharmaceuticals to collaborate on custom blood test
    • Eli Lilly and Boehringer Ingelheim to collaborate in metastatic breast cancer