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June 2015PDF



Adding Imbruvica to Bendamustine/Rituximab Combination Increases PFS in Phase III Trial

Patients with previously treated chronic lymphocytic leukemia or small lymphocytic lymphoma that received Imbruvica (ibrutinib) in combination with bendamustine and rituximab experienced an 80 percent reduction in the risk of progression or death when compared to patients receiving bendamustine, rituximab and placebo in a phase III trial.

Imbruvica patients also experienced a higher overall response rate, including achieving a higher rate of complete responses, after a median follow-up of 17 months.
On March 16, an independent data monitoring committee recommended that the trial, named HELIOS, be unblinded based on clinically meaningful and statistically significant treatment benefit observed in the Imbruvica arm compared to placebo and BR.



Trial: Tafinlar/Mekinist Combination Benefits BRAF V600E/K Mutation-Positive Patients

Data from the phase III COMBI-d study showed a significant survival benefit for patients with BRAF V600E/K mutation-positive metastatic melanoma when treated with the combination of Tafinlar and Mekinist compared to Tafinlar alone.

The final analysis included the 423 patients enrolled in COMBI-d and showed that the combination of Tafinlar (dabrafenib) and Mekinist (trametinib) achieved a statistically significant overall survival benefit compared to Tafinlar monotherapy, with median of 25.1 months compared to 18.7 months, respectively (HR=0.71 [95% CI, 0.55-0.92], p=0.011).


Lung Cancer

Gilotrif Reduces Risk of Death by 19 Percent In Phase III Squamous Cell Carcinoma Trial

Overall survival results from the LUX-Lung 8 trial comparing two EGFR-directed treatments, Gilotrif (afatinib) and Tarceva (erlotinib), in patients with advanced squamous cell carcinoma of the lung progressing after treatment with first-line chemotherapy, demonstrated that treatment with Gilotrif significantly reduced the risk of death by 19 percent, extending the survival of patients to a median of 7.9 months compared to 6.8 months on Tarceva.

Significantly more patients treated with Gilotrif were still alive at one year compared to those treated with Tarceva (36.4 vs. 28.2 percent).


Prostate Cancer

Retrospective Analysis Shows Benefit with Custirsen in mCRPC Patients with Poor Prognosis



Pacritinib Demonstrates Control Of Symptoms in Phase III Trial


Kidney Cancer

Phase II Study Compares Afinitor As Second-Line Treatment Following Various VEGFR Inhibitors and Cytokine Therapy


Pancreatic Cancer

PEGPH20 Shows Doubling of PFS Among Patients with High Levels Of Hyaluronan in Phase II Trial


Breast Cancer

Phase III Prolia Trial Meets Endpoint in Clinical Fractures



Electric Nerve Stimulation Shown to Be as Effective as Pilocarpine in Treating Radiation-Induced Dry Mouth


Drugs and Targets

Lenvatinib Launched in U.K. For Advanced Thyroid Cancer

 NCI CTEP-Approved Trials for the Month of June
20150618 - Jun. 18, 2015

AAUP Places MD Anderson on Censure List

MD Anderson Cancer Center has been censured by the American Association of University Professors, an organization that defends academic freedom and shared governance.

The decision was made at AAUP’s Annual Meeting, which concluded June 13 in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1915, AAUP has 47,000 individual members and 300 chapters.

Several hundred AAUP members unanimously voted to censure Ronald DePinho’s administration, said Gregory Scholtz, AAUP associate secretary and director of the Department of Academic Freedom.

“There was no debate,” Scholtz said to The Cancer Letter.

20150613 - Jun. 13, 2015
ISSUE 23 – JUNE 12, 2015PDF

NCI Frederick Laboratory’s $400 Million Per Year Contract Up for Re-Competition

NCI is opening up its contract for operations and technical support at the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research for re-competition—a process that officials said will take up to two years.

The institute is broadening the statement of work for the contract to maximize new opportunities in cancer research, which involves fostering interactions with academia. Bidders can include universities, consortia of universities, other nonprofit institutions and for-profit companies.

The contract, which was awarded in 2008, is scheduled to end in September 2018. Leidos Biomedical Research Inc. received $400.2 million to run the lab in fiscal 2014. It is not publicly known how much NCI is budgeting for the 2018 contract.

    21st Century Cures Heads for House Floor Vote

    The 21st Century Cures Act cleared the House Committee on Energy & Commerce and is heading for floor vote.

    The legislation, H.R. 6, is designed to expedite drug development, modernize clinical trials, and accelerate approval of drugs and medical devices. Capitol Hill insiders say the floor vote may occur within two weeks.

    Guest Commentary

    Obamacare was Undermined from the Outset

    By Leonard Zwelling

    Could the Supreme Court functionally end Obamacare before the end of June?

    It could if the court determines that subsidies paid to those individuals eligible for the payments who gained health insurance on the federal exchanges are inconsistent with the Affordable Care Act as written.

    Pediatrician Charged With Child Porn Possession Resigns From MD Anderson

    A pediatric oncologist at MD Anderson Cancer Center is facing federal charges of one count of receiving and possessing child pornography.

    Dennis Hughes, an associate professor of pediatrics, was arrested at his home June 5 after the Federal Bureau of Investigation found a thumb drive containing 8,200 downloaded files, the majority of which appeared to contain child pornography.

      In Brief

      • Karen Knudsen named director of Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Thomas Jefferson University

      • Roberto Pili joins IU Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center

      • Mary Beckerle appointed to board of Johnson & Johnson

      • Pew Charitable Trusts name 27 biomedical research scholars

      • The Cancer Genome Atlas Research Network publishes study on molecular classification of diffuse gliomas

      • AACR and Bayer partner to expand research fellowship program

      • Scripps Mercy O’Toole Breast Care Center opens in San Diego

      • ASCO Publishes Practical Tips for Oncology Practice 

      • Chris4Life Colon Cancer Foundation and Smart Patients launch DATABLUE

      • The Cancer Letter receives first place award from the Society of Professional Journalists for its coverage of power morcellation

       Drugs and Targets

      • Lenvatinib launches in U.K. for advanced thyroid cancer

      • Keytruda authorized for sale by Health Canada

      • FDA grants orphan designation to APTO-253

      • Janssen initiates rolling submission for daratumumab in multiple myeloma

      • MD Anderson and Nektar Therapeutics announce collaboration

      20150612 - Jun. 12, 2015