Issue 38 - Oct 12, 2018
  • St. Jude and the World Health Organization collaborate in first-ever global alliance to boost cancer cure rates in children

    St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the World Health Organization have formed a collaboration, working with partners across the world, and aiming to cure at least 60 percent of children with cancer worldwide by 2030.

  • Conversation with The Cancer Letter

    St. Jude’s Downing: WHO effort can raise cure rates up to 60% for children with cancer

    The $15 million collaboration between St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the World Health Organization is the first step to improving access in low and middle-income countries to affordable treatments for six common types of childhood cancer, said James Downing, St. Jude president and CEO.

  • Conversation with The Cancer Letter

    WHO’s Ilbawi: St. Jude partnership can resolve inequality, capacity issues in childhood cancer

    How do you begin a quest to cure 60 percent of children with six common types of childhood cancer worldwide by 2030?

    You start by building the political will needed to secure government investment in health care, said André Ilbawi, a World Health Organization technical officer for cancer control in the Department for Management of Noncommunicable Diseases, Disability, Violence and Injury Prevention.

  • Letter to the Editor

    Ronald DePinho’s guest editorial in the Oct. 5, 2018, issue of The Cancer Letter congratulating Jim Allison for winning a share of the Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology contained the following one sentence paragraph: “It was the first Nobel ever awarded for the treatment of cancer.”

  • In Brief

    • Cancer biologist Steven Artandi to lead Stanford Cancer Institute, replacing outgoing director Beverly Mitchell
    • Allan Tsung named surgical oncology division director at Ohio State
    • Marc Hurlbert named chief science officer at Melanoma Research Alliance
    • Katzenellenbogen named Chuck and Tina Pagano Scholar at IU
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  • Trials & Tribulations

    Biomarker linked to increased survival rates among certain brain tumor patients

    Study shows DNA biomarker can be used to predict outcomes for high risk low grade gliomas

    Brain tumors can be tricky to treat because there is such a wide range of outcomes. Some patients succumb to the disease within months, others live years beyond their diagnosis.

  • Clinical Roundup

    • New ASTRO/ASCO/AUA guideline for early-stage prostate cancer supports use of shortened courses of radiation therapy
    • High-precision proton therapy more effective in some cancers when combined with thermal therapy
    • Cancer death disparities linked to poverty, lifestyle factors nationwide
    • Report: tobacco control must be highest priority in cancer control
  • Drugs & Targets

    • ODAC recommends approval of rituximab biosimilar
    • Myriad, Pfizer announce commercialization plan for talazoparib companion diagnostic
    • Foundation Medicine introduces liquid biopsy for solid tumors in patients with advanced cancer
    • Celyad announces agreement for Horizon Discovery’s shRNA platform to develop next- gen allogeneic CAR-T therapies
    • Novitas Solutions approves coverage of UPMC-developed test for diagnosis of thyroid nodules
  • NCI Trials

    NCI Trials for October

    The National Cancer Institute Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program approved the following clinical research studies last month.

Issue 37 - Oct 5, 2018
  • Guest Editorial

    When your harmonica player wins the Nobel Prize

    THE CHECKPOINTS were born in 2007 on an escalator in Chicago. Here’s the story…

    Back then, in an oncology era that we’ll fondly call “The Dark Ages,” no one, except a small gaggle of Don Quixotes, believed that the immune system could cure cancer. Immunotherapy stalwarts (like my friends and I) were such outcasts that our presentations at the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting were scheduled for the last day of the conference (when just about everyone had already gone home) and assigned to a lecture hall that was too remote for anything but sensible shoes.

  • Guest Editorial

    Thank you, Jim Allison

    The year was 1998, location, Italian Alps. Jim and I were attending an intimate Pezcoller meeting organized by David Livingston. At that meeting, Jim presented something I had never seen in the entirety of my career—the eradication of cancer in mice following treatment with an antibody designed to inhibit a T cell checkpoint mechanism.

  • Craig Thompson resigns from two corporate boards as MSK crisis shifts to board roles

    Craig Thompson, president and CEO of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, resigned from two corporate boards of directors—the pharmaceutical company Merck & Co., and Charles River Laboratories International Inc., a company focused on early-stage drug development and manufacturing of novel compounds.

  • Conversation with The Cancer Letter

    Roy Jensen: “In general, I think cancer center directors still enjoy a certain amount of respect”

    As the new president of the Association of American Cancer Institutes, Roy Jensen will focus on public policy at the state and local level as his presidential priority.

  • An Appreciation

    Philip DiSaia, former head of Gynecologic Oncology Group, dies at 81

    The grandson of Italian immigrants, Philip John DiSaia was born on Aug. 14, 1937 in Providence, Rhode Island. He earned his Bachelor’s in Science at Brown University and his MD at Tufts University.

  • In Brief

    • Ruth O’Regan named chief scientific officer of Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium
    • Peter Wiklund named director of the Bladder Cancer Program at Mount Sinai
    • 2018 NIH Director’s awards for high-risk, high-reward research program announced
    • Queen’s University Belfast and the University of Leeds researchers win the 2018 European Health Award
    • Shirley Mertz elected chair and Christine Benjamin vice chair of Metastatic Breast Cancer Alliance
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  • Trials & Tribulations

    How tumor-specific modulation frequencies were discovered

    In the spring of 2001, I visited a longtime friend and collaborator, Alexandre Barbault, to share with him my vision of using low levels radiofrequency electromagnetic fields for the treatment of cancer.

  • Clinical Roundup

    • Aspirin lowers risk of ovarian and hepatocellular cancer
    • Genentech’s Entrectinib showed durable response of more than two years NSCLC
  • Drugs & Targets

    • FDA releases draft guidance on master protocol studies
    • FDA approves Kyprolis with dexamethasone for relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma
    • FDA authorizes first next-gen sequencing-based test in patients with ALL, MM
    • FDA approves Libtayo as first and only treatment for advanced CSCC
Issue 36 - Sep 28, 2018
  • Oregon flirts with—and quickly abandons—plan to deny Medicaid payment for next-generation sequencing

    The Oregon Health Authority did a considerable amount of work to prepare a plan that would deny Medicaid coverage for next-generation sequencing tests in the state.

  • Conversation with The Cancer Letter

    UIC’s Stewart: Oregon draft guidance is “an assault on the treatment of underrepresented populations”

    The unwillingness to provide patients with targeted therapies based upon their genetic profile, I think, is unconscionable. The logic to me behind that is, “It’s okay to be elderly and sick, but it’s not okay to be poor and sick.” That’s how the draft guidance reads to me, because you won’t have access to state-of-the-art diagnostics.

  • Conversation with The Cancer Letter

    WVU’s Goldberg: Oregon draft guidance would widen disparities for low-income cancer patients

    My opinion is that patients should have equal access to technology that is becoming useful in improving outcomes, regardless of which insurer they are covered by. I can tell you that every week, we’re doing NGS tests on Medicaid patients in West Virginia as well as on patients with every other kind of insurance.

  • In Baselga’s wake: Debate focuses on COIs of academics on boards of for-profit firms

    As the fallout from the ethics scandal at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center continues, cancer center officials are investigating allegations contained in an anonymous letter from a group that identifies themselves as “Concerned Employees of MSKCC.”

  • In Brief

    • NIH receives $2B raise as House passes FY19 spending package
    • NIH memorial service for Alan Rabson scheduled for Oct. 30
    • Heidi Nelson named medical director of the American College of Surgeons Cancer Programs
    • American Cancer Society honors John Ruckdeschel with St. George Award
    • Carlos Arteaga awarded $600,000 to study breast cancer therapy resistance
    • ASCO recognizes Rep. Kevin Yoder with 2018 Congressional Leadership Award
    • NCCN moves global headquarters to Plymouth Meeting
    • Cuomo announces U.S.-Cuba venture to develop new cancer treatments
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  • Conversation with The Cancer Letter

    Anne-Marie Langevin receives Harry Hynes Award

    Anne-Marie Langevin, of the South Texas Pediatric Minority/Underserved NCI Community Oncology Research Program site in San Antonio, won the 2018 Harry Hynes Award, which is given annually to the PI who reflects the outstanding contribution to clinical trials and community research.

  • Clinical Roundup

    • CT screening reduces lung cancer mortality, NELSON study finds
    • Imfinzi significantly improves OS in unresectable, stage III NSCLC
    • Tecentriq + chemo significantly improves OS as initial treatment for ES-SCLC
    • Atezolizumab + carboplatin & pemetrexed improves PFS in stage IV non-squamous NSCLC
    • Myriad’s Variant Reclassification Study published in JAMA
    • Alunbrig improves PFS by over 50% vs. crizotinib in first-line advanced ALK+ NSCLC
    • Cancer patients have lower risk of opioid-related death than general public
    • Breast cancer patients prefer knowing costs prior to starting treatment
    • CIMAvax-EGF well tolerated for NSCLC, initial findings show
  • Drugs & Targets

    • FDA approves Vizimpro for NSCLC indication
    • FDA approves Copiktra for CLL/SLL indications
    • FDA grants QIDP and Fast Track Designations to Cidara
    • Blincyto approved In Japan for relapsed or refractory B-cell ALL
    • European Commission approves Coherus’s Udenyca
  • NCI Trials

    NCI Trials for September

    The National Cancer Institute Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program approved the following clinical research studies last month.

Breaking News - Sep 26, 2018
Issue 35 - Sep 21, 2018
Issue 34 - Sep 14, 2018
  • José Baselga resigns as physician-in-chief at Memorial Sloan Kettering

    José Baselga has resigned from his position as physician-in-chief and chief medical officer of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center less than a week after The New York Times and ProPublica reported that he had failed to disclose his conflicts of interest in scientific and medical journals and at professional meetings.

  • A color-coded document Baselga created to explain himself instead illustrated the extent of his confusion and exposure

    The discussions that took place in the executive offices of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center over the past week aren’t publicly known. Ditto conversations at top-tier medical journals and professional societies, which are assessing the aftermath of José Baselga’s systematic failure to disclose his conflicts of interest.

  • ASCO urges CMS to drop proposal that threatens to reduce access for Medicare cancer patients

    Through a combination of payment reductions, some provisions of the 2019 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule proposed rule will undermine access to cancer care for Medicare beneficiaries, the American Society of Clinical Oncology wrote in a comment letter to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

  • In Brief

    • Nearly 350 groups join AACR in Rally for Medical Research
    • Stand Up To Cancer 2018 telecast raises $123.6 million
    • Allis, Grunstein, Glen, Steitz win 2018 Lasker Awards
    • $3.2 million NIH grant aims to correct diagnostic errors for breast cancer
    • CPRIT surpasses $2 billion milestone with 64 new grants
    • Sidney Kimmel – Jefferson joins Driver network
    • Three community health care systems to use Flatiron’s OncoCloud Suite
  • Funding Opportunities

    NCCN-Lilly RFP on quality of care in gastric cancer

    The National Comprehensive Cancer Network announced a collaboration with Eli Lilly and Co. to offer a new opportunity seeking proposals to bridge gaps in care for gastric and gastroesophageal junction cancer patients in the U.S. The Request for Proposals outlines the scope and process that will be followed for the submission of Letters of Intent.

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  • Clinical Roundup

    • Study details incidence and timing of immunotherapy-related fatalities
    • CARsgen Therapeutics and CrownBio complete CAR-T study for gastric cancer
    • Bavencio + Inlyta improved PFS in advanced RCC
    • IMV Inc. and Merck to evaluate DPX-Survivac + Keytruda
    • Clinical trial shows best outcomes to date for older Hodgkin lymphoma patients  
    • Children who develop ALL may have dysregulated immune function at birth
    • Drug for pancreatic cancer targets two genes at a time
  • Drugs & Targets

    • FDA approves moxetumomab pasudotox-tdfk for hairy cell leukemia
    • Boehringer Ingelheim acquires all ViraTherapeutics shares to develop next-gen viral-based therapies
Issue 33 - Sep 7, 2018
  • To “free the data,” expert group urges NCI to spend money to speed up data sharing

    A working group formed by NCI Director Ned Sharpless has recommended that the institute devote additional funds informatics researchers could use to  harmonize existing cancer datasets.

  • Twitter star Vinay Prasad retires @VinayPrasadMD

    Vinay Prasad, a cyber-iconoclast for all things cancer, appears to have closed the Twitter account that made him a brand in oncology.

  • Mendelsohn retires from MD Anderson

    John Mendelsohn has retired from MD Anderson Cancer Center, which he served as president for 15 years, from 1996 to 2011.

  • Obituary

    Radiation oncology pioneer Moody Wharam, dies at 77

    Moody Wharam Jr., professor emeritus of radiation oncology and molecular radiation sciences, and former Willard and Lillian Hackerman Professor of Radiation Oncology at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center, died Aug. 10 at age 77.

  • In Brief

    • Northwestern Lurie Cancer Center earns “exceptional” rating from NCI
    • Northwestern awarded brain cancer SPORE grant
    • Rogel Cancer Center awarded CCC designation and $33.4M from NCI
    • Rutgers Cancer Institute redesignated as comprehensive cancer center
    • Bernard Fisher turns 100
    • Agios announces CEO succession plan
    • Ruth McCorkle named AAN Living Legend
    • Vamsidhar Velcheti named director of thoracic medical oncology at NYU
    • NYU Langone’s Perlmutter Cancer Center expands blood, marrow transplant program
    • Siteman Cancer Center expands to Illinois
    • ACS selects first project in “accelerator pipeline”
    • Smith, Thompson, Yau receive LUNGevity Career Development Awards
    • bluebird bio, Gritstone Oncology form collaboration to develop cancer cell therapies
    • JNCCN strengthens focus on original, impactful research into care delivery
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  • Clinical Roundup

    • SOLAR-1 trial of Novartis meets primary endpoint in HR+/HER2- advanced breast cancer
    • PARP inhibitor improves progression-free survival in patients with advanced breast cancers and BRCA mutations
    • NCI-led research team develops predictor for immunotherapy response in melanoma
    • Cetuximab + radiation found inferior to standard treatment in HPV-positive oropharyngeal cancer
    • Secondhand smoke exposure in childhood may raise risk of adult lung disease
    • Mount Sinai researchers create RNA and DNA-sequencing platform to match broader swath of cancer drugs
    • Duke researchers find missing immune cells that could fight lethal brain tumors
    • Hopkins researchers seeking ways to monitor effectiveness of immunotherapy
  • Drugs & Targets

    • Kymriah gets European approval for B-cell ALL and diffuse large B-cell lymphoma indications
    • FDA gives priority review to BMS Empliciti + pomalidomide, dexamethasone in multiple myeloma
    • Rafael Pharmaceuticals receives FDA Orphan Drug Designation of CPI-613 for peripheral T-cell lymphoma
    • ASLAN003 gets Orphan Drug Designation for AML
Issue 32 - Aug 31, 2018
  • NIH Director Francis Collins tricked into debating disguised Sacha Baron Cohen on Showtime spoof “Who Is America?”

    Billy Wayne Ruddick Jr., Ph.D., is a character eerily reminiscent of someone we know, a distant relative who picks political fights on Facebook and Twitter.

  • Conversation with The Cancer Letter

    It took an elaborate ruse to get NIH Director Francis Collins on Sacha Baron Cohen’s “Who Is America?”

    Intricate deception went into luring NIH Director Francis Collins onto Sacha Baron Cohen’s television show.

  • Senate spending bill gives NIH $2 billion raise

    The US Senate Aug. 23 passed a spending bill that will increase the NIH budget by $2 billion to $39.1 billion—a 5.4 percent boost over the current level.

  • An Appreciation

    James D. Cox, former RTOG chair, dies at 80

    Jim Cox, professor emeritus in radiation oncology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, passed away on Aug. 14.  He was 80.

  • In Brief

    • Rosenberg, June and Allison share 2018 Albany Prize
    • Karen Knudsen named AAACI president-elect
    • Cory Wiegert named CEO of CancerLinQ LLC
    • Moffitt’s chief information security officer named fellow to America’s cybersecurity think tank
    • Exact Sciences, Pfizer enter into U.S. promotion agreement for Cologuard
    • MD Anderson, Accelerator Life Science form Magnolia Neurosciences
    • UCLA awarded $9.3 million to help provide prostate cancer treatment
    • Ana María López to lead medical oncology at Sidney Kimmel
    • Noriega joins Fox Chase Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care
    • Yahanda, Loaiza-Bonilla receive promotions at CTCA
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  • Clinical Roundup

    • NCCN publishes first U.S. guidelines for rare cancers associated with pregnancy
    • Collection of brain cancer data accessible to global researchers
    • Comprehensive CAR T-cell therapy pediatric guidelines developed
    • University of Maryland scientists to conduct first FDA-approved study of focused ultrasound to open blood-brain barrier
    • Liquid biopsy could ease the way to immunotherapy for lung cancer
  • Drugs & Targets

    • Imbruvica + rituximab becomes first non-chemo combination for Waldenström’s macroglobulinemia
    • FDA approves lenvatinib for unresectable hepatocellular carcinoma
    • Lenvima gets European approval for advanced, unresectable hepatocellular carcinoma
    • FDA approves pembrolizumab + chemo for first-line metastatic non-squamous NSCLC
    • FDA updates prescribing information for Keytruda, Tecentriq
    • Nivolumab gets accelerated approval for third-line metastatic small cell lung cancer
    • FDA approves Kyowa Kirin’s Poteligeo for mycosis fungoides and Sézary Syndrome
Issue 31 - Aug 3, 2018
  • With 11 new partners, AACR’s Project GENIE to make available genomic data from 60,000 tumors by 2019

    Project GENIE, already the largest publicly available genomic data repository in the U.S., is on track to publish information on 60,000 sequenced tumors—derived from an international network largely comprised of academic cancer centers—by January 2019.

  • Conversation with The Cancer Letter

    AACR’s Sweeney: Adoption of data standards necessary for advancing real-world evidence in precision oncology

    Researchers at Project GENIE, the largest publicly available genomic database in the U.S., understand what it takes to convert sequencing data into real-world evidence: a lot of money, manpower, and data harmonization, said Shawn Sweeney, director of the American Association for Cancer Research Project GENIE Coordinating Center.

  • House committee defoliates NIH funding for WHO program that declares weedkiller Roundup a carcinogen

    The House Committee on Appropriations has withheld funding for the WHO International Agency for Research on Cancer—which receives about $2 million from the United States per year—because of controversy over the agency’s label for glyphosate, a chemical commonly used in weedkillers.

  • In Brief

    • University of Minnesota Masonic Cancer Center receives “outstanding” rating
    • Dominic Seraphin named VP of Strategic Alliances & Network at Moffitt
    • Constanza Martinez Piñanez joins Miami Cancer Institute
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  • Clinical Roundup

    • Study identifies genes associated with risk for triple negative breast cancer
    • Lung cancer mortality rates in women to increase worldwide by over 40 percent by 2030
    • Tumor Treating Fields + paclitaxel may improve survival in ovarian cancer
  • Drugs & Targets

    • FDA approves first treatment for rare adrenal tumors
    • TheraBionic P1 device receives European regulatory approval
    • Keytruda + pemetrexed and platinum gets EMA’s positive opinion for first-line NSCLC
    • Tafinlar + Mekinist gets positive CHMP opinion for adjuvant BRAF V600 mutation-positive melanoma
    • Lenvima + Keytruda get Breakthrough designation for endometrial carcinoma
    • Pfizer receives European approval for biosimilar trastuzumab
  • NCI Trials

    NCI Trials for August

    The National Cancer Institute Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program approved the following clinical research studies last month.

Issue 30 - Jul 27, 2018
  • New drugs and new ideas are transforming AML

    An actuary might note that if you were in residency at the time when the 7+3 protocol of cytarabine and daunorubicin was first used to treat acute myelogenous leukemia, chances are you are considering retirement just about now.

  • Conversation with The Cancer Letter

    OSU’s Byrd: “It’s becoming necessary to consult with an expert, because it is complicated, and things are moving”

    As the landscape in acute myelogenous leukemia changes, consultations with top-tier experts have become a necessity, said John Byrd, the principal investigator of Beat AML, Distinguished University Professor, the D. Warren Brown Professor of Leukemia Research at The Ohio State University, a member of the NCI Leukemia Steering Committee, chair of the Leukemia and Correlative Science Committee within the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology.

  • Conversation with The Cancer Letter

    Agios’s Schenkein: “It’s not one disease. Just like lung cancer’s not one disease”

    Agios Pharmaceuticals Inc., the sponsor of two drugs that may change the outcomes for a subset of acute myelogenous leukemia patients, is focused on more than AML.

  • FDA will organize new review divisions around disease types, Gottlieb testifies

    To modernize drug development, FDA plans to add review divisions to its Center for Drug Evaluation and Research and organize those divisions around disease types, FDA Commission Scott Gottlieb said July 25 to members of Congress in a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing.

  • In Brief

    • DuBois, Pollak named editors of Cancer Prevention Research 
    • Walker named new COO of City of Hope
    • Manotti named senior vice president, chief development officer at MSKCC
    • Agarwal named chief medical officer at Epizyme
    • IU’s Broxmeyer receives NHLBI Outstanding Investigator Award
    • Royce, Kircher selected for ASCO’s 2018-2019 Health Policy Fellowship Program
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  • Clinical Roundup

    • UCLA’s Yang receives $1.4M to develop cellular therapy using blood stem cells
    • Takeda’s Alunbrig meets PFS primary endpoint
  • Drugs & Targets

    • FDA approves magnetic device system for sentinel biopsies in breast cancer  
    • FDA accepts Celyad IND application for CYAD-101, a non-gene edited allogeneic CAR-T candidate
    • Keytruda approved in China for advanced melanoma
    • BMS, Tsinghua University to develop therapies for autoimmune diseases, cancer
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