Issue 44 - Nov 30, 2018
  • FDA approves second drug for a site-agnostic indication; larotrectinib was tested across 17 cancer types

    Vitrakvi (larotrectinib) aims to treat a very small group of people—some say fewer than 3,000 new patients a year in the U.S. And since these patients have diseases that span multiple tumor sites, finding them isn’t easy.

  • How we isolated the TRK oncogene

    was very surprised to see in an issue of the NEJM earlier this year that Loxo Oncology had developed a selective TRK inhibitor, larotrectinib, and even more surprised to learn that TRK fusions occur in about 1 percent of all human cancers.

  • Conversation with The Cancer Letter

    Hyman: “This approval adds to the growing utility of sequencing in patients with cancer”

    As Vitrakvi (larotrectinib) becomes the second drug to get FDA approval for a site-agnostic indication, physicians will have yet another reason to order sequencing, said David Hyman, chief of the Early Drug Development Service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and the principal investigator for a larotrectinib clinical trial that led to the approval. 

  • Cancer groups: CMS proposal to lower drug prices would limit access for patients in “protected classes”

    The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has proposed a drug-pricing plan that administration officials say would offer lower cost options to seniors and provide support for the private sector to lower the cost of prescription drugs.

  • Guest Editorial

    Reasons for hope for acute myeloid leukemia patients

    On the eve of the Thanksgiving holiday, FDA delivered a flurry of decisions: approvals for two therapies—venetoclax and glasdegib—to treat a deadly form of blood cancer called acute myeloid leukemia (AML), and a priority review designation for another therapy—quizartinib—to treat the same disease. A fourth therapy to treat AML—gilteritinib—received an FDA approval on Nov. 28.

  • In Brief

    • The Pancreatic Cancer Collective awards $7 million in first-round “New Therapies Challenge” grants
    • Oren Cahlon named associate deputy physician-in-chief of MSK’s Regional Care Network
    • Weill Cornell Medicine awarded $9 million grant for mantle cell lymphoma research
    • UPenn’s Abramson Cancer Center joins NCCN as member institution
    • New CPRIT Scholar Grants recruit talent to Texas institutions
    • Huntsman Cancer Institute breaks ground for Utah’s first proton therapy center
    • David Kerstein named chief medical officer of Anchiano Therapeutics
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  • Clinical Roundup

    • Brain cancer immunotherapy SurVaxM extends survival
    • Avelumab in platinum-resistant/refractory ovarian cancer did not meet OS and PFS endpoints
  • Drugs & Targets

    • FDA grants Venclextra accelerated approval for newly-diagnosed AML
    • FDA approves Daurismo for newly-diagnosed AML in adults 75 years and older
    • FDA approves gilteritinib for relapsed or refractory AML with a FLT3 mutation
    • FDA approves Truxima as biosimilar to Rituxan for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
Issue 43 - Nov 16, 2018
  • Artificial intelligence can entrench disparities—here’s what we must do

    Heinz Von Foerster, the renowned Austrian-American physicist and cybernetics scholar, declared that “information can be considered as order wrenched from disorder.1” Ever-increasing amounts of digital data and new computational tools promise that technological developments such as artificial intelligence (AI) will bring order, clarity, and new solutions in multiple areas—from transportation to criminal justice.

  • Guest Editorial

    Trump pricing plans are pretentious, could impede access, and will not help much

    Oct. 25, we heard more about President Trump’s plan to save health care dollars through a variety of Medicare pilot programs and index pricing.

  • In Brief

    • Cornelis Melief receives 2018 ESMO Immuno-Oncology Award
    • Roswell Park partners with Jagiellonian University in Kraków
    • NCCS presents third annual Ellen Stovall Award to Gay Crawford and Norman Coleman
    • IU researchers awarded $2.3 million to continue studies on CIPN
    • UVA researchers awarded $1.8 million to test breast cancer approach
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  • Trials & Tribulations

    Deciphering genomic testing options for diverse patient populations in early-stage breast cancer

    In my twenty-two years of practicing medicine, I have observed the evolution of genomic testing and its increasing utility in oncology.

    With the growing interest in precision medicine for breast cancer patients, I have found it important to decipher the differences between the two most clinically validated genomic tests, MammaPrint and Oncotype DX, and their phase III trials, MINDACT and TAILORx, respectively.

  • Clinical Roundup

    • Cardiovascular toxicities seen early in treatment with immune checkpoint inhibitors
    • Breast screening linked to 60 percent lower risk of breast cancer death in first 10 years
    • Fecal transplant effective against immunotherapy-induced colitis
    • Biodesix test predicts response to atezolizumab in lung cancer
    • Keytruda significantly improved OS compared to chemotherapy in PD-L1 advanced esophageal or esophagogastric junction carcinoma
    • Pfizer introduces biosimilar Retacrit injection in the U.S. at a substantial discount
    • Initial data from AMBER trial of TSR-022 + TSR-042 demonstrates clinical activity in progression following anti-PD-1 treatment
    • Zymeworks announces updated clinical data for novel bispecific antibody, ZW25
    • Gradalis presents initial data from phase II U.S. trial for Ewing’s sarcoma
  • Drugs & Targets

    • Using review pilot program, FDA takes two weeks to approve first-line treatment for peripheral T-cell lymphoma
    • FDA accepts novel clinical trial endpoint in approving Erleada for prostate cancer
    • CHMP gives positive opinion for Kisqali combination therapy for all women with HR+/HER2- locally advanced or metastatic breast cancer
    • FDA grants priority review for Tecentriq + Abraxane for metastatic triple-negative breast cancer
    • Immunomedics expands clinical collaboration with AstraZeneca to include metastatic NSCLC
    • Ziopharm Oncology announces Immuno-oncology Clinical Supply Agreement with Regeneron to evaluate combination therapy for brain cancer
Issue 42 - Nov 9, 2018
  • Otis Brawley leaves the American Cancer Society as it pursues “open-for-business” strategy amid sliding revenues

    If you walked into your local Long John Silver’s restaurant on Sept. 19 and attempted to “talk like a pirate,” the person behind the counter would give you a free deep-fried Twinkie and prompt you to count out a few coins for the American Cancer Society.

  • Conversation with The Cancer Letter

    Brawley: “I started out talking about black-and-white disparities, and now I write papers talking about state-by-state disparities”

    I wish more Americans would care about other Americans and their health care. I see a certain amount of selfishness sometimes, especially when we start having these arguments about screening.

  • Conversation with The Cancer Letter

    Jaffee: Congressional commitment to NIH will continue through FY2021

    The growing nation’s budget deficit will become a primary focus for many in Congress and President Trump, potentially resulting in calls to cut spending, and thereby effectively capping the rate of growth that the NIH budget has experienced during the past four years. In fact, the president has already called for a 5 percent cut across all departments in FY 2020.

  • An Appreciation

    Arti Hurria, geriatric oncologist at City of Hope, dies in traffic accident

    Arti Hurria, a pioneer of geriatric cancer care at City of Hope, died Nov. 7 in a traffic accident. She was 48.

  • Letter to the Editor

    On behalf of ECOG-ACRIN, we want to add our voices to the condolences for the families and community of those killed in Pittsburgh. We paraphrase the assertion of Edmund Burke that all that is required for evil to triumph is that good people remain silent. In response, as a community dedicated to the relief of suffering, we register our condemnation of this atrocity, and of all those that would prey upon sub-populations of our diverse society.

  • In Brief

    • Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation gives $6 million to Moffitt
    • Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group announces Allen Distinguished Investigators
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  • Clinical Roundup

    • Stereotactic radiosurgery and surgical resection offer similar local control of brain metastases
    • Trisalus pressure-enabled drug delivery increased effect of anti-CEA CAR-T in pancreatic cancer patients with liver metastases
  • Drugs & Targets

    • FDA approves Empliciti + pomalidomide and dexamethasone for multiple myeloma
    • FDA grants Fast Track to selinexor for diffuse large B-cell lymphoma
    • Seattle Genetics submits sBLA for ADCETRIS in frontline treatment of CD30-expressing peripheral T-cell lymphomas
    • BMS, Infinity form collaboration to evaluate Opdivo + IPI-549 in urothelial cancer
    • ASCO, SITC release recommendations for reporting of immuno-oncology clinical trials
    • Sandoz decides not to pursue US biosimilar rituximab
    • FDA’s digital tool seeks to help capture real world data useful in regulatory decision-making
    • Elsevier to integrate NCCN guidelines into Via Oncology