Issue 25 - Jun 22, 2018
  • Vinay Prasad, oncologist and Twitter star, locked in debate over precision medicine

    In recent years, Vinay Prasad, a young hematologist–oncologist at Oregon Health and Science University, has emerged as a premier critic of new directions in cancer medicine.

    In his view, cancer drugs are aimed at miniscule populations, approved way too easily, and priced too high.

  • Reviews of Prasad’s “thought experiment”

    As a reporter, I have no standing in settling scientific disputes.

    So, when Vinay Prasad and I hit the wall in our discussion of the assumptions he and a group of colleagues made in their provocative “thought experiment,” I decided to do what journals do—send the paper to peer reviewers.

  • Conversation with The Cancer Letter

    Prasad: FDA has confused merely approving drugs with making the world a better place

    have been following Vinay Prasad’s work for several years, agreeing with some of what he said, but never quite finding time to look carefully at his argumentation.

  • In Brief

    • Norman Coleman, Gay Crawford to receive NCCS Stovall Award for advancing patient-centered care
    • Marc Lippman, breast cancer expert, returns to Georgetown Lombardi
    • Laura Hutchins named interim director of UAMS Rockefeller Cancer Institute
  • Funding Opportunity

    DOD Prostate Cancer Research Program opportunities

    The FY18 Defense Appropriations Act provides $100 million to the Department of Defense Prostate Cancer Research Program to support innovative, high-impact prostate cancer research.

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  • Clinical Roundup

    • Kymriah shows more than one-year durable responses in relapsed or refractory DLBCL
    • Lonsurf improves OS in metastatic gastric cancer
    • Greater levels of vitamin D associated with decreasing risk of breast cancer
    • Diabetes diagnosis later in life may signal early pancreatic cancer in African-Americans and Latinos
    • Study finds emergency colon cancer surgery performed on weekends more likely to lead to complications
  • Drugs & Targets

    • FDA to review BRACAnalysis CDx sPMA as companion diagnostic for Talazoparib
    • China’s drug agency approves Opdivo for previously treated NSCLC
    • Natera, Institut Jules Bordet to collaborate on neoadjuvant breast cancer assay
Issue 24 - Jun 15, 2018
  • Guest Editorial

    The Trump administration “American Patients First” plan to reduce drug prices—Are American cancer patients first?

    In May 2018, President Trump announced his plan to lower drug prices. “We will have tougher negotiation, more competition, and much lower prices at the pharmacy counter. And it will start to take effect very soon,” he promised. The plan is outlined in a 40-page document by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services titled “American Patients First—The Trump Administration Blueprint to Lower Drug Prices and Reduce Out-of-Pocket Cost.”

  • Change in culture needed to prevent sexual harassment at academic institutions, NASEM says

    To prevent and effectively respond to sexual harassment of women, institutions of higher education need to promote a system-wide change to the culture and climate on campus, says a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

  • In Brief

    • NCI’s Rosenberg receives Jacobson Innovation Award of the American College of Surgeons
    • Penn State Health and Highmark Health to create health care network
    • NCI renews City of Hope’s support grant with outstanding rating
    • AAP recognizes COH’s Forman for physician-led science and scientific leadership
    • COH’s Rosen inducted into the College of Fellows of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering
    • Prostate cancer expert Dorff joins COH
    • COH’s Djulbegovic directs Medicine and Comparative Effectiveness Research Program
  • Funding Opportunities

    NCI Community Oncology Research Program issues three RFAs: Community Sites, Minority/Underserved Community Sites, and Research Bases

    This Funding Opportunity Announcement solicits applications from institutions/organizations to participate in the National Cancer Institute’s NCI Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP).

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  • Letter to the Editor

    MammaPrint has remained consistent and credible since introduction more than a decade ago

    To the Editor:

    One of the biggest questions that early-stage breast cancer patients face is whether they will benefit from chemotherapy treatment. Two large scale randomized clinical trials that implement genomic testing have positively addressed this question.

  • Clinical Roundup

    • Study shows low-fat diet significantly reduced risk of death after breast cancer
    • Some African-American men with advanced prostate cancer do better than whites
    • African-American men show stronger response to hormone therapy for prostate cancer
    • Loxo announces positive interim data from dose escalation trial in RET-altered cancers
    • Tecentriq, Avastin plus chemo improved OS in non-squamous NSCLC
    • Alecensa reduced risk of disease progression or death in Alk-positive metastatic NSCLC
    • Checkpoint inhibitor shrinks advanced squamous cell skin cancer
    • Kisqali combination therapy improves PFS in HR+/HER2- breast cancer
    • PARP inhibitor improves overall response rates in small cell lung cancer patients
    • Study links blood vitamin D levels to colorectal cancer risk


  • Drugs and Targets

    • FDA approves Avastin in combination with chemotherapy for ovarian cancer
    • FDA approves Keytruda for relapsed or refractory PMBCL
    • FDA approves Keytruda for previously treated patients with recurrent or metastatic cervical cancer whose tumors express PD-L1
    • TESARO, Genentech to study Zejula with anti-PD-L1 agent, MEK inhibitor in ovarian cancer
    • FDA approves Venclexta with rituximab as a fixed duration treatment for CLL or SLL after one prior therapy
    • FDA approves first Neulasta biosimilar
    • FDA, EMA accept application for talazoparib in metastatic breast cancer with inherited BRCA mutation
  • The Cancer Letter wins investigative, design awards

    The Cancer Letter won four 2018 Dateline Awards from the Washington, D.C. Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

Issue 23 - Jun 8, 2018
  • Big takeaway from ASCO: 70 percent of women with early breast cancer don’t benefit from adjuvant chemotherapy

    An NCI-sponsored trial showed that up to 70 percent of women with hormone receptor-positive, HER2-negative, axillary lymph node-negative breast cancer would not benefit from chemotherapy.

  • Conversation with The Cancer Letter

    Abrams: Only about 20-30 percent of the group might benefit from chemotherapy

    The practice-changing TAILORx trial was brought to you by publicly funded cancer clinical trials system, pointing to its continuing relevance, said Jeff Abrams, NCI acting director for clinical research and associate director of the Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program.

  • Sharpless: NCI adds $10 million for NCTN and NCORP trials

    NCI is providing an additional $10 million to support trials run with the National Clinical Trials Network and the NCI Community Oncology Research Program, Norman “Ned” Sharpless said in his first appearance as NCI director at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago. “NCI’s major efforts with regards to large clinical trials are largely supported through our clinical trials networks like the National Clinical Trials Network,” Sharpless said in his June 2 talk at ASCO. “One of the major challenges for these networks over the past few years, however, has been a rapid increase in the per-patient costs for patients on trials.

  • In Brief

    • J&J Innovation and Boston University form lung cancer research alliance
    • Kochevar to retire from Colorado Cancer Center
  • Funding Opportunities

    Addario, Van Auken foundations announce 2018 Young Innovators Team Award

    The Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation, in collaboration with the Van Auken Private Foundation, announced the 2018 Young Innovators Team Award to fund and support teams of young investigators conducting innovative research with a potential of delivering meaningful and measurable results in the field of lung cancer.

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  • Trials and Tribulations

    Searching for Breast Cancer’s “Extreme Survivors” 

    I remember the day I met Margaret “Peg” Geisler, who has now been living with breast cancer for 40 years, and with metastatic disease for 36 of those years.

  • Clinical Roundup

    • New treatment combination improves outcomes for some patients with colorectal cancer
    • Exact Sciences, Mayo Clinic identify blood-based DNA biomarkers to diagnose hepatocellular carcinoma
    • Opdivo demonstrates superior RFS vs. Yervoy for patients with resected stage III or IV melanoma
    • Opdivo plus Yervoy provide QOL improvements in RCC
Issue 22 - Jun 1, 2018
Issue 21 - May 25, 2018
Issue 20 - May 18, 2018
Issue 19 - May 11, 2018
Issue 18 - May 2, 2018
  • Flatiron, BMS form collaboration to curate regulatory-grade real-world data

    Bristol-Myers Squibb and Flatiron Health announced a three-year collaboration to advance methodologies for the curation of real-world data for cancer research and to develop regulatory-grade information.

    BMS will use Flatiron data to analyze real-world evidence across a range of tumors and will collaborate on the development and validation of real-world endpoints within Flatiron’s longitudinal datasets.

  • Conversation with The Cancer Letter

    BMS’s Saha: We’re at the start of defining new endpoints, hypotheses with real-world evidence

    Bristol-Myers Squibb’s three-year collaboration with Flatiron Health will focus on leveraging real-world data to improve the pharmaceutical company’s regulatory submissions, demonstrate the economic value of BMS’s cancer portfolio, and to study the predictive value of biomarkers.

  • Conversation with The Cancer Letter

    Oklahoma’s Stephenson Cancer Center earns coveted NCI Cancer Center designation

    The Stephenson Cancer Center at the University of Oklahoma May 2 announced that it has received Cancer Center designation from NCI.

    This designation brings the total number of NCI designated cancer centers to 70. With Stephenson included, 14 of these centers now have the Cancer Center designation, 49 have the Comprehensive Cancer Center designation, and seven have the Basic Laboratory Cancer Center designation.


  • In Brief

    • National Coalition for Cancer Research to cease operations as member groups take on their own education, policy roles
    • Campaign to educate Washington, DC, public about clinical trials
  • Funding Opportunities

    CPRIT announces New Seed Award for early-stage oncology startups

    The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas is unveiling a new award mechanism targeting early-stage oncology startup companies. Under this program, known as the Seed Award, companies can apply for up to $3 million in nondilutive funding to support development of innovative cancer therapeutics, diagnostics or tools.

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  • New data prompts CDC to examine adequacy of pre-op workup by gynecologists

    In response to a congressional letter and a new study on the prevalence of undiagnosed hidden uterine cancers, officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are considering launching a review of whether gynecologists are sufficiently thorough in evaluating patients in the preoperative setting, according to insiders with knowledge of the agency’s plans.

  • Clinical Roundup

    • Keytruda meets ORR endpoint in interim analysis of phase III trial in NSCLC
  • Drugs and Targets

    • Novartis’ Kymriah gets second FDA approval—for large B-cell lymphoma
    • FDA approves Tafinlar and Mekinist for BRAF V600-mutant melanoma
    • FDA grants priority review to cemiplimab in advanced cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma
    • Genocea files IND for neoantigen cancer vaccine candidate GEN-009
  • CTEP Protocols

    NCI Trials for May

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

Issue 17 - Apr 27, 2018
Issue 16 - Apr 20, 2018
  • Sharpless adds $100 million to NCI’s RPG pool, R01s for young investigators boosted by 25%

    NCI will bump up the budget for its Research Project Grant pool by $100 million in 2018—the largest increase to the institute’s RPG pool since 2003, NCI Director Norman “Ned” Sharpless said at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research in Chicago.

    “This is possible thanks to increases in the past three years in our congressionally appropriated budget,” Sharpless said in his first public speech as NCI director at the meeting April 16. “While this is not solely for basic science—there are lots of laudable clinical trials and health services research funded from the RPG pool—this is the most straightforward way to assure we continue to fund investigator-initiated basic science.”

  • Piantadosi leaves Cedars-Sinai for Alliance and Harvard

    Steven Piantadosi is moving to Alliance, where he will serve as the associate group chair for strategic initiatives and innovation.

  • In Brief

    • SU2C focuses on precursor conditions in multiple myeloma
    • St. Baldrick’s commits $8 million to SU2C Pediatric Cancer Dream Team
    • Isabella Santos Foundation gives $5 million for rare & solid tumor program at Levine Children’s Hospital
    • MedStar Georgetown offers proton therapy with HYPERSCAN technology for adults and kids with cancer
    • Reprocell and Fox Chase to open biosample repository in India
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  • Clinical Roundup

    • Keytruda combination improved OS regardless of PD-L1 expression, including patients who tested negative for PD-L1
    • Keytruda reduced risk of recurrence or death by over 40% vs. placebo as adjuvant therapy in resected, high-risk stage III melanoma
    • SU2C researchers find treatment strategy for stage I-III NSCLC
  • Drugs and Targets

    • FDA approves Tagrisso for front-line metastatic NSCLC with common EGFR mutations
    • FDA approves Opdivo and Yervoy for front-line advanced RCC
    • FDA approves Tavalisse for ITP
    • FDA issues guidance on investigational in vitro diagnostics in oncology trials
  • CTEP Protocols

    NCI Trials for April

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

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