40-41 The Cancer Letter In Brief

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City of Hope Launches Blood Cancer Institute

CITY OF HOPE launched an institute focused on treating blood and bone marrow diseases: the Hematologic Malignancies and Stem Cell Transplantation Institute.

The institute will be composed of six centers, individually focused on research in lymphoma, myeloma, leukemia, T cell immunotherapy, stem cell transplantation, and gene therapy. These include the Toni Stephenson Lymphoma Center and the Gehr Family Center for Leukemia Research.

The institute has recruited several prominent researchers, including Larry Kwak, chairman of the Department of Lymphoma/Myeloma at MD Anderson Cancer Center and associate director of its Center for Cancer Immunology Research; Jasmine Zain, associate director for the Bone Marrow Transplantation Program at the College of Physicians and Surgeons at the New York Presbyterian Hospital and Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center at Columbia University; John Chan, co-director of the Center for Leukemia and Lymphoma Research and co-leader of the Lymphoma Research Program at the University of Nebraska; Guido Marcucci, professor of internal medicine and molecular virology, immunology and medical genetics, and pharmaceutics in the Division of Hematology at Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center; and Christiane Querfeld, dermatopathologist and lymphoma specialist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

The institute is currently launching several T cell immunotherapy clinical trials for treatment of leukemia and lymphoma, with others being developed for myeloma and transplantation.

LISA RICHARDSON was named director of the CDC Division of Cancer Prevention and Control.

Richardson served for over a decade in medical and scientific leadership roles in the division and will rejoin the center Nov. 16.

She first joined CDC in 1997 as medical officer in DCPC’s National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program and was then selected as medical officer of the Hematologic Diseases Branch in the National Center for Infectious Diseases.

She left CDC in late 2000 to practice clinical care and serve as assistant professor at the University of Florida’s School of Medicine. Richardson then returned to CDC in 2004 as medical officer and served as lead of the Scientific Support and Clinical Translation Team in the Comprehensive Cancer Control Branch and as the division’s associate director for science. She then left DCPC in April 2013 to direct the Division of Blood Disorders in the National Center for Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities.

Pamela Protzel Berman, who served as acting director of DCPC, will return to her full-time duties as DCPC’s deputy director.

MILAN MRKSICH was appointed associate director for research technology and infrastructure at the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University.

Mrksich is the Henry Wade Rogers Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Chemistry and Cell and Molecular Biology, with appointments in the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, and Feinberg School of Medicine.

He will be responsible for oversight of the Lurie Cancer Center’s research shared resource facilities. Currently, 15 shared resource facilities are supported by the Lurie Cancer Center, including the Center for Advanced Microscopy, Medicinal & Synthetic Chemistry Core, Targeted Transgenic & Mutagenesis Laboratory, and the High Throughput Analysis Laboratory.

Mrksich’s research combines synthetic chemistry with materials science to study important problems in cell biology. He is a co-founder of Arsenal Medical Inc., a medical devices company that has a stent product in clinical trials, and recently co-founded SAMDI Tech, an early-stage technology company based on his new platform for analyzing biochemical reactions.

RONAN SWORDS received the Pap Corps Endowed Professorship in Leukemia at the University of Miami Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center. Swords is assistant professor of medicine and director of the Leukemia Program at Sylvester.

The endowment comes from The Pap Corps: Champions for Cancer Research, a volunteer organization that raises money solely for cancer research at Sylvester. The organization has donated more than $51 million to the center, including this year’s $4.5 million as part of an overall pledge of $25 million to University of Miami’s Momentum2 campaign.

Swords is a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in Ireland and the Royal College of Pathologists in London. He came to the U.S. in 2009 for an advanced fellowship in drug development at the University of Texas Health Science Center. Swords joined Sylvester in 2012.

LAURA BROD was named CEO of GeneSegues Therapeutics. Brod is an at-large member of the University of Minnesota Board of Regents and is chair of the university’s Audit Committee. She was a member of the Minnesota House of Representatives from 2002 to 2010, during which time she served as assistant majority leader.

GeneSegues is based in Minneapolis and develops DNA and RNAi cancer therapeutics using sub-50 nanometer nanocapsule technology, including GS-10, for the treatment of a range of solid tumor cancers including head and neck, prostate and breast, as well as their related metastases.

MERCK SERONO awarded its first Grant for Oncology Innovation, who will receive grants totaling EUR 1 million. The grant supports researchers focused on personalized treatment of solid tumors.

The 2014 winners were formally announced at the annual meeting of the European Society for Medical Oncology in Madrid. They are:

Clara Montagut, of Hospital del Mar, in Barcelona, Spain; for proposed research on ultra-selection and molecular monitoring of CRC patients treated with anti-EGFR therapy using NGS platforms and serial liquid biopsies.

Stefan Sleijfer, of the Erasmus MC Cancer Institute, in Rotterdam, Netherlands; for proposed research on non-invasive monitoring of breast cancer therapy using cell-free tumor DNA in blood.

Ulrich Güller, of Cantonal Hospital, in St. Gallen, Switzerland; for a prospective, double-blinded, placebo-controlled, phase III randomized trial of adjuvant aspirin treatment in PIK3CA mutated colon cancer patients.

MARTINE EXTERMANN received the 2014 Paul Calabresi Award from the International Society of Geriatric Oncology. Extermann is the senior member of the Senior Adult Oncology and Health Outcomes & Behavior Programs at Moffitt Cancer Center.

Named after the first president of the society, the award recognizes individuals who have significantly contributed to the advancement of geriatric oncology. It is the highest award granted by the society.

Extermann received the award during the society’s annual meeting in Lisbon, Portugal. She gave a lecture on translational and clinical opportunities in geriatric oncology, focused on Moffitt’s Total Cancer Care Protocol and how it can be utilized for older cancer patients. The protocol provides a standard system for tracking patient molecular, clinical and epidemiological data and follows the patient throughout his or her lifetime.

APTOSE BIOSCIENCES Inc. joined the Beat AML collaboration, developed by The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and the Knight Cancer Institute at Oregon Health & Science University.

Aptose’s lead investigational anticancer therapeutic APTO-253 will be profiled extensively against primary cells from hundreds of AML patient samples collected by Beat AML contributors.

Under the agreement, Aptose and the Knight Cancer Institute will collaborate on research related to APTO-253, which is designed to provide further insights into the optimal genetic profile of patients likely to benefit from APTO-253 therapy.

APTO-253 is a small molecule that acts through induction of the innate tumor suppressor gene Krüppel-like factor 4 and expression of the downstream cell cycle regulator p21.

THE CLEVELAND CLINIC will use IBM Watson technology to accelerate the use of genomic-based medicine.

The Lerner Research Institute’s Genomic Medicine Institute at Cleveland Clinic plans to evaluate Watson’s ability to help oncologists develop more personalized care to patients for a variety of cancers. The goal is to use Watson to correlate data from genome sequencing to medical journals, studies and clinical records, identifying patterns in genome sequencing and medical data.

The pilot initiative is an extension of Cleveland Clinic programs focused on big data in healthcare. Given the depth and speed of Watson’s ability to review massive databases, the objective of the collaboration is to increase the number of patients who have access to care options tailored to their disease’s DNA.

MD ANDERSON CANCER CENTER and Summit Medical Group signed a letter of intent to develop a joint, outpatient cancer center, as an extension of MD Anderson’s partnership with Cooper University Health Care, that will provide an integrated, multidisciplinary approach to oncology care in northern New Jersey.

Summit Medical Group will become a member of MD Anderson Cancer Network. The agreement is the first of its kind between MD Anderson and a physician-owned and governed multispecialty group. MD Anderson will provide clinical oversight and management for the program, which will include radiation oncology, medical oncology, infusion and diagnostic imaging.

MERIDIAN HEALTH and Hackensack University Health Network agreed to enter into discussions to merge the health systems that will result in one, integrated health care delivery system.

The signing of the memorandum of understanding will now enter a period of due diligence which could take up to four months prior to the signing of a definitive agreement.

“Our combined organization would serve a much broader geography, expanding access to services and developing a vast array of new non-hospital services,” said Robert Garrett, president and CEO of Hackensack University Health Network.

The new organization, which would be known as Hackensack Meridian Health, would have a corporate board comprised of an equal number of trustees from each system. Garrett will serve as co-president and CEO of the new organization with John Lloyd, president and CEO of Meridian, for a period of two-and-a-half years, after which Garrett would become president and CEO.

THE KNIGHT CANCER INSTITUTE at Oregon Health & Science University launched a program to aid communities statewide in addressing cancer-related needs.

The institute made a decade-long commitment to invest $1 million annually through this program to assist groups that want to reduce the cancer burden in their communities.

Three tiers of grants are available to support a wide variety of projects: early stage grants provide up to $10,000, developmental grants offer up to $25,000 and program advancement grants supply up to $50,000. These grants will fund community-identified projects anywhere along the cancer continuum from prevention to early detection and treatment through survivorship.

Projects will be paired with an academic collaborator who will share best-practices, support program development and aid in evaluation measures. The information will be shared between organizations, academic collaborators, and the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute.

THE AMERICAN SOCIETY OF CLINICAL ONCOLOGY endorsed a guideline published by the American Urological Association and the American Society for Radiation Oncology on the use of adjuvant and salvage radiotherapy after prostatectomy. The endorsement was published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

The AUA/ASTRO guideline recommends that physicians discuss adjuvant radiotherapy with patients who have adverse pathologic findings at prostatectomy (i.e., seminal vesicle invasion, extensive positive surgical margins) and salvage radiotherapy with patients with detectable postoperative prostate-specific antigen or local recurrence after prostatectomy.

Patients should be informed that, while adjuvant radiotherapy reduces the risk of recurrence and disease progression, its impact on preventing metastases and extending survival is less clear, the guideline states. The recommendations were published August 2013 in the Journal of Urology.

The society added one qualifying statement that not all men who are candidates for adjuvant or salvage radiotherapy have the same risk of recurrence or disease progression, and thus, not all men will derive the same benefit from adjuvant radiotherapy. Those at the highest risk for recurrence after radical prostatectomy (including men with seminal vesicle invasion, Gleason score 8 to 10, extensive positive margins, and detectable postoperative PSA) are likely to derive the greatest benefit.