Issue 15 - Apr 13, 2018
  • Sharpless: Expect a big boost to NCI’s RPG pool

    NCI’s Research Project Grant pool is likely to receive the largest increase in funding in 16 years, NCI Director Norman “Ned” Sharpless said at an NCI Town Hall meeting April 10.

    The increase is made possible by a $3 billion raise to NIH’s budget that translates into $275 million in new money for the institute in fiscal year 2018.

  • Whistleblower suit claims McKesson repackaged, sold cancer drug “overfill”

    A whistleblower lawsuit alleges that McKesson Corp. had been repackaging cancer drugs and charging the federal and state governments for “overfill,” extra drug that is routinely put into vials by manufacturers.

  • In Brief

    • Gradishar named chief of hematology and Oncology at Northwestern
    • Cole named chief of pediatric hematology/oncology at Rutgers
    • ACS CAN report examines patient barriers to cancer clinical trial enrollment
    • Woodcock, Shaw and Conway-Welch receive awards from Society for Women’s Health Research
    • Billings appointed chief medical officer at Natera
  • Funding Opportunities

    DOD Ovarian Cancer Research Program Publishes funding opportunities

    FY18 OCRP Program Announcements and General Application Instructions for the following award mechanisms are posted on Grants.gov.

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  • Trials and Tribulations

    Sales Revenues at the Potential Expense of Patient Safety: The Example of You&i TM

    Ibrutinib is a selective and irreversible inhibitor of Bruton’s tyrosine kinase (BTK) that entered phase 1 clinical trials in 2009 based on preclinical efficacy in models of B-cell malignancy and autoimmune disease.[1, 2] The initial phase 1 trial showed clear efficacy in a number of lymphoid malignancies at doses as low as 1.25 mg/kg/d. Furthermore, full receptor occupancy was demonstrated at 2.5 mg/kg/d. Despite these pharmacological and early clinical findings, development of ibrutinib continued at doses of 420 mg qd and 560 mg qd, levels 3-4 fold higher than suggested by the pharmacological data. In addition, the absorption of ibrutinib is enhanced by administration of food, which may explain why even the lowest dose showed efficacy in some patients.

  • Clinical Roundup

    • NCI study revises molecular classification for most common type of lymphoma
    • Updated ASTRO guideline for lung radiation recommends concurrent chemotherapy for some stage III patients
    • Keytruda monotherapy meets OS endpoint in phase III trial
    • Epacadostat plus Keytruda don’t meet PFS endpoint in phase III study in metastatic melanoma
    • Roswell Park, Ohio State researchers identify genes linked to blood and marrow transplant outcomes
  • Drugs and Targets

    • Rucaparib approved for recurrent epithelial ovarian, fallopian tube, or primary peritoneal cancer
    • FDA finalizes guidances to accelerate development of Next Gen sequencing
    • Karyopharm’s Selinexor receive FDA Fast Track designation
    • MD Anderson, Nanobiotix to collaborate on preclinical research combining NBTXR3, nivolumab
Issue 14 - Apr 6, 2018
Issue 13 - Mar 30, 2018
  • New players, new strategies, new resolve raise NIH budget to new level

    On March 14, beneath the soaring ceiling of the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) faced a constellation of round tables at the Research!America 2018 Advocacy Awards Dinner.

  • Duke faces tightened NIH grant oversight over handling of past scientific misconduct

    NIH has imposed tighter financial controls on researchers at Duke University, citing “ongoing issues” related to management of grants.

  • Conversation with the Cancer Letter

    University of Michigan gets $150 million to recruit cancer researchers, fund research

    Richard and Susan Rogel gave $150 million to the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, which will now be known as the Rogel Cancer Center.

  • AACR announces scientific award winners, new board of directors

    The following cancer researchers and clinicians will be recognized for their scientific achievements during the American Association for Cancer Research annual meeting.

  • An Appreciation

    James Holland, an oncology pioneer, dies at 92

    James Holland became a doctor thanks to what he calls “a series of fortunate mistakes.” The son of a prominent lawyer in Morristown, New Jersey, Holland was raised to go into law, too. But that changed when he took a course in biology at Princeton University and became enthralled with seeing cells under a microscope.

  • In Brief

    • Society of Surgical Oncology gives service award to Wolmark and Fisher
    • NCCN honors contributors to the Improvement of global cancer care
    • City of Hope and Fivepoint partner to bring outpatient center to Orange County
    • Thomas Gallo named ACCC President 2018-2019
    • ONS elects board of directors
    • Cohen joins department of radiation oncology at Fox Chase
  • Funding Opportunities

    DOD publishes funding opportunities for breast and prostate cancer programs

    AACR, AstraZeneca form training partnership

    The American Association for Cancer Research and AstraZeneca formed a partnership to help foster the next generation of cancer research scientists and stimulate innovative research in the areas of DNA Damage Response in cancer and Immuno-Oncology.

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  • Clinical Roundup

    • Sorafenib improves PFS in rare sarcomas, NIH-funded study shows
    • Zejula plus Keytruda shows activity in refractory ovarian cancer
    • Retrospective analysis identifies predictors of dose modification for niraparib
  • Drugs and Targets

    • FDA gives accelerated approval for Blincyto for ALL patients with minimal residual disease
    • Enfortumab vedotin gets breakthrough designation in urothelial cancer
    • FDA approves changes on Hologic’s 3Dimensions Mammography System
    • FDA accepts application for Opdivo plus Yervoy for MSI-H or dMMR metastatic colorectal cancer for priority review
  • CTEP Protocols

    NCI Trials for March

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

Issue 12 - Mar 23, 2018
  • Right to Try edges closer to becoming federal law

    Libertarians rejoice, but can it solve compassionate use problems?

    Few Washington insiders doubt that a bill that allows terminally ill patients to circumvent FDA as they pursue Hail Mary pass therapies will become the law of the land.

    Collectively known as the “Right to Try” law, the legislation has been passed by both chambers of Congress. The bills, which bear the names of four patients—Trickett Wendler, Frank Mongiello, Jordan McLinn, and Matthew Bellina—are the culmination of years of intense lobbying by conservative groups and patient activists.

  • Conversation with the Cancer Letter

    NYU’s Caplan: Right to Try laws are meaningless, empty hot air, unethical, and utterly ineffective

    The right-to-try bills passed by Congress would remove FDA’s expanded access mandate and leave patients at greater risk, said Arthur Caplan, the Drs. William F. and Virginia Connolly Mitty Professor and founding director of the Division of Medical Ethics at the New York University School of Medicine.

  • Conversation with the Cancer Letter

    Goldwater’s Coleman: Right to Try patients don’t need permission from feds to save their own lives

    Patients and their doctors should be able to make treatment decisions without involvement from the federal government, said Starlee Coleman, senior policy advisor for the Goldwater Institute, a libertarian think tank that lobbied successfully for widespread adoption of right-to-try laws.

  • How CMS intends to pay for next generation sequencing

    Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services March 16 published the final National Coverage Determination that will pay for next generation sequencing in a broad range of cancers.

  • Congressional omnibus gives NIH a surprisingly hefty $3 billion raise

    Congress March 22 passed a budget that gives a stunning $3 billion increase to NIH and a $275 million boost to NCI.

  • In Brief

    • Robert Redfield to be named CDC director
    • UAMS to offer Arkansas’ first-ever radiation oncology residency program
    • Andrew Aplin named first Kalbach-Newton professor at Thomas Jefferson
    • Jennifer Dorazio named Assistant director for administration at WVU
    • Cofactor Genomics announces collaboration with NCI
    • AbbVie and the International Myeloma Foundation partner to study role of a genetic mutation in multiple myeloma
    • Vanderbilt and Boehringer Ingelheim expand collaboration
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  • Clinical Roundup

    • BioPharma publishes phase III COLUMBUS data of encorafenib and binimetinib
    • AVEO Oncology publishes long-term follow-up results from TIVO-1 Extension Study in TKI refractory RCC
    • Finasteride shown to prevent prostate cancer for up to 16 years
    • Machines see the future of patients diagnosed with brain tumors
  • Drugs and Targets

    • Novartis’s Tasigna approved for children with rare form of leukemia
    • FDA approves Adcetris for adults with previously untreated stage III or IV classical Hodgkin lymphoma
    • University of Maryland certified for CAR T-cell therapy in lymphoma
Issue 11 - Mar 16, 2018
  • Do patients know best? Industry, NCI committing dollars to studying patient-reported outcomes

    Researchers are coming to the conclusion that cancer patients are the best authority on how therapies affect them.

    Over the past few years, about 20 NCI trials and over 125 industry studies have incorporated direct reports of symptomatic adverse events by cancer patients through an NCI program.

  • Conversation with the Cancer Letter

    Basch: Patient-reported outcomes data can make cancer drugs safer, more tolerable

    Fifteen years ago, when Ethan Basch started developing measures for aggregating patient-reported outcomes, many of his colleagues in oncology saw no promise in this enterprise.

  • Conversation with the Cancer Letter

    Porter: I can’t tell you how the Trump administration gets its budget numbers

    John Edward Porter, a long-time key Congressional appropriator and advocate for biomedical research, received the Research!America Legacy Award at an advocacy awards dinner March 14.

  • In Brief

    • President’s Cancer Panel calls for urgent action on drug prices
    • AACR launches initiative focused on health disparities in African-Americans
    • Aurora Health Care & UTHealth join  Strata Oncology
    • PRIMO Lara named deputy chair of SWOG
    • Fox Chase’s Engstrom receives lifetime achievement award for cancer prevention
    • Bellerjeau gets lifetime achievement award from blood and marrow transplant group
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  • Trials and Tribulations

    Rare Cancers, Common Need

    Cancer immunotherapy, and in particular immune checkpoint blockade, has transformed oncology with the potential for durable responses even in patients with metastatic disease. To date, regulatory approvals and clinical trials have focused on the study of these agents in relatively more common tumor types, such as melanoma, non-small cell lung cancer, bladder cancer, and kidney cancer, amongst others.

  • Clinical Roundup

    • ASTRO issues updated clinical guideline for whole breast radiation therapy
    • Testicular cancer survivors need screening for long-term heart disease risk
  • Drugs and Targets

    • Erdafitinib gets Breakthrough Therapy designation for metastatic urothelial cancer
    • FDA grants priority review to Merck’s sBLA for Keytruda for advanced cervical cancer
Issue 10 - Mar 9, 2018
Issue 9 - Mar 2, 2018
Issue 8 - Feb 23, 2018
  • Conversation with the Cancer Letter

    His six-month “listening tour” almost over, Sharpless discusses his vision for NCI

    “The notion that cancer’s not one disease, but thousands of diseases is really starting to sink in, and the implications of that fact are being felt throughout [NCI], and it means we have to change how we do everything. I hope that the early days of the Sharpless administration will be remembered as a time when we really bought into that reality and did some things differently,” NCI Director Norman “Ned” Sharpless said in a conversation with The Cancer Letter.

  • Conversation with the Cancer Letter

    UT Health San Antonio’s link with MD Anderson goes live

    How does it work?

    The affiliation between UT Health San Antonio Cancer Center and MD Anderson Cancer Center became active on Feb. 20. “Administratively, the two institutions are distinct. Patients will be cared for by the physicians and nurses of the [San Antonio] Mays Cancer Center, but certainly the platform of the care that they’re being provided has been heavily informed and integrated with MD Anderson, based on their treatment templates and methodology,” Ruben Mesa, director of the Mays Cancer Center, said to The Cancer Letter.

  • In Brief

    • Frederick Schnell named to new post of COA medical director
    • Richard Barakat to lead Northwell Health cancer services, research
    • Denis Guttridge named director of MUSC Darby Children’s Research Institute, associate director at Hollings
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  • Trials and Tribulations

    Diversity within Diversity: Lessons from the Latinos of South Texas

    Diversity is to be celebrated in our society as enriching our experiences, our cultures and the richness of our lives. Diversity within the context of cancer care and research has appropriately grown to include considerations of diversity of race, ethnic heritage, age, gender, and experiences.

  • Clinical Roundup

    • NEJM publishes Loxo’s larotrectinib clinical data
  • Drugs and Targets

    • FDA expands approval of Imfinzi to reduce the risk of NSCLC progressing
  • NCI Protocols

    NCI trials for February

    NCI approved the following clinical research studies last month.

Issue 7 - Feb 16, 2018
  • A confusing Valentine: White House proposes cutting NIH by 27 percent, and—at the same time—reverses the cut

    What a difference a week makes.

    Last week, advocates for biomedical research were bracing for another shutdown of the federal government and fearing that the president’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2019 would drastically slash NIH.

  • NCI Director’s Report

    Sharpless: NCI should increase funding for RPG pool to maintain success rates for R01s

    NCI may need to invest at least $125 million in new money in the Research Project Grant pool in 2018 if the institute plans on keeping the success rates for R01s comparable to 2017, said NCI Director Ned Sharpless.

  • In Brief

    • NCI’s Lowy and Schiller win Szent-Györgyi Prize
    • Aldape starts as chief of laboratory of pathology at the NCI
    • Aghajanian appointed as NRG Oncology Gynecologic Cancer Committee Chair
    • Hudson named co-chair of NRG Oncology Delivery Research Committee
    • AACR’s Cancer Today magazine launches new website

     

  • Funding Opportunities

    American Cancer Society Supports Early Career Clinicians’ Move into Clinical Science

    The American Cancer Society started a grant program to support early career clinicians aiming to become clinician scientists.

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  • Trials and Tribulations

    A Cancer Patient’s War on Cancer

    Imagine a hospital ward 100 years from now. Will multi-drug resistant infections be as prominent as they are today? I suspect so, because as antibiotics evolve, so will the infectious diseases they target. It’s an arms race in which both sides have a capacity to learn and adapt. Not so cancer. Cancers can’t learn from each other. But cancer patients can. This profound imbalance in the capacity for learning is an advantage that all cancer patients share. It is our super power. And we barely use it.

  • Clinical Roundup

    • NCCN & ASCO provide joint guidance on side effects from checkpoint inhibitors
    • Phase II trial shows durvalumab active in recurrent or metastatic head and neck cancer
    • UW Carbone study finds caregiver spouses of cancer patients suffer untreated depression
  • Drugs and Targets

    • FDA approves new treatment for a certain type of prostate cancer using novel clinical trial endpoint
    • Roche to acquire Flatiron Health for $1.9 billion
    • BMS, Nektar form collaboration for CD122-biased agonist
    • Tivozanib gets NICE nod for first-line treatment of advanced RCC
Issue 6 - Feb 9, 2018
  • Dissenters in anti-tobacco movement cite National Academy report in claim that “e-cigarettes are saving lives.” Nope, the NAS report’s authors say

    A group of tobacco control advocates, one of whom receives money from Philip Morris International, issued a press release trumpeting that “E-Cigarettes are Saving Lives,” and attributed this conclusion to a recent report by the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

  • Conversation with the Cancer Letter

    NTRI’s Abrams: Smokers should use e-cigarettes if they can’t quit completely

    Withholding e-cigarettes as an alternative from smokers who are unable to quit equals supporting the continued use of conventional cigarettes, said David Abrams, a member of the National Tobacco Reform Initiative.

    “The main thing you want to get across with the NASEM report and others is that smokers should absolutely try to find an e-cigarette that works for them if they can’t quit completely,” said Abrams, professor, Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the New York University College of Global Public Health. “The public have been very much misled and wrongly believe that e-cigarettes would not help you quit.”

  • An Appreciation

    Cancer moves fast…and we have to move faster

    Jon M. Huntsman Sr. dared to eradicate cancer from the face of the earth. People thought he was crazy, but for someone who started out delivering fresh eggs as a boy to support his family, went on to invent and then manufacture the polystyrene egg carton, and built from scratch a $12 billion global chemical company with more than 12,000 employees, there was no holding him back. Jon was a dreamer, a risk-taker, a true visionary, and a man whose compassion for others knew no limits. He didn’t sleep. His life was dedicated to making the world a better place: a world without homelessness, a world without hunger, a world without cancer.

  • Congress passes two-year budget deal, paving the way toward giving NIH a $2 billion raise

    So, the federal government shut down while America slept, but it reopened after a five-and-a-half hour pause, by early morning Feb. 9. We’ve seen this dance before.

    However, in a move that is anything but yawn-inducing, Congress passed a budget deal that paves the way toward giving NIH a $2 billion raise and lifts the spending caps on defense and non-defense spending through March 2019.

  • CRUK names ten finalists for £20m Grand Challenge

    Cancer Research UK has shortlisted ten multidisciplinary, international teams for what amounts to the second leg of competition for Grand Challenge awards.

    Each of the teams will now receive £30,000 in seed funding to prepare up their applications for interviews later this year.

  • In Brief

    • Arap, Pasqualini named to leadership posts at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey at University Hospital in Newark
    • Dhodapkar named director of new Center for Cancer Immunology at Emory Winship
    • Oberstein named director of GI medical oncology at NYU Perlmutter Cancer Center  
    • Campbell joins Fox Chase Cancer Center Cancer Biology Program
    • IU gets $14 million gift to create program focused on symptom management
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  • Clinical Roundup

    • In phase III study Tecentriq and Avastin reduced risk of disease worsening/death by 26 percent in advanced kidney cancer
    • Opdivo plus Yervoy meet PFS endpoint in phase III trial in frontline NSCLC
    • Tyme announces interim phase II data for SM-88 in prostate cancer at ASCO GU Symposium  
  • Drugs and Targets

    • FDA approves abiraterone acetate in combination with prednisone for high-risk metastatic castration-sensitive prostate cancer
    • Foundation Medicine and EORTC collaborate comprehensive genomic profiling
    • Abbott PathVysion HER-2 DNA Probe assay to be used in ANGLE study
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