Issue 19 - May 12, 2017
  • How one bad sentence in the Cures Act blocked FDA’s cancer center from receiving $75 million

    The FDA Oncology Center of Excellence occupied a special place in the Obama White House moonshot program.

    Amid the moonshot’s big goals, the FDA center was concrete, manageable, and modestly priced, a reorganization that promised to revolutionize the agency’s handling of everything cancer.

  • Robert Comis, piano man, clinical trials impresario, and ECOG-ACRIN co-chair, dies unexpectedly at 71

    It’s possible that there were pianos that Bob Comis didn’t like.

    The luminary of clinical trials commandeered pianos wherever he found them—at hotel lounges and at the American Society of Clinical Oncology president’s receptions, where, year after year, he blasted his way through My Way.

  • Conversation with The Cancer Letter

    Niederhuber on Trump’s budget blueprint: “We should not panic yet”

    Former NCI director John Niederhuber is keeping relatively calm about the White House plan to slash the NIH budget.

    “I guess my reaction was that, this is the White House recommendation, the President’s recommendation,” said Niederhuber, who served as NCI director from 2006 to 2010. “When people have asked me about it, I’ve said we should not panic yet. This is a process and that’s the beginning of the process.”

  • In Brief

    • Robert Vonderheide new UPenn Abramson Cancer Center director
    • Six New York cancer researchers win Pershing Square Sohn young investigators prize
    • MD Anderson names Sabin Fellows, each to receive $100K in research funding
    • Von Hoff receives Columbia alumni award
    • Association for Cancer Immunotherapy CIMT: Cancer Immunotherapy Award to Kees Melief
    • ACCC launches financial advocacy boot camp in response to cancer costs
  • Drugs and Targets

    • Keytruda-Alimta-carboplatin combination gets FDA approval
    • FDA grants accelerated approval to avelumab for urothelial carcinoma
    • Novartis receives FDA approval for Kisqali Femara Co-Pack for initial treatment of HR+/HER2- advanced or metastatic breast cancer
    • European Commission approves dinutuximab beta for high-risk neuroblastoma
    • Reolysin gets FDA Fast Track designation for in metastatic breast cancer 
    • PIQUR receives EMA Orphan Drug designation for PQR309 in diffuse large B-cell lymphoma
    • Addario Institute, Biocept collaborate on liquid biopsy trial in lung cancer
    • EpiThany, Merck KGaA, Pfizer to evaluate combination of avelumab and EP-101 STEMVAC in breast cancer
    • Array BioPharma, Merck collaborate to study MEK inhibitor with Keytruda
    • OncoSec, Merck to evaluate ImmunoPulse IL-12 and Keytruda in metastatic melanoma
    • Regeneron, SillaJen to test combination treatment in kidney cancer
    • Regeneron, Inovio agree to study glioblastoma combination therapy

     

  • Funding Opportunities

    • DOD Breast Cancer Research Program
    • DOD Ovarian Cancer Research Program
Issue 18 - May 5, 2017
  • Officials who fired Beckerle out at University of Utah as tables turn

    Two weeks ago, Vivian Lee and David Pershing attempted to oust Mary Beckerle from her job at Huntsman Cancer Institute.

    Now, Beckerle is back to being the CEO and director at Huntsman, while Lee is no longer the senior vice president for health sciences at the University of Utah. Lee’s boss, Pershing, too, is stepping down as soon as a new president is recruited.

  • Congress approves $2 billion increase for NIH in FY17 omnibus but FDA cancer center remains unfunded in legislative glitch

    After seven months of continuing resolutions, Congress voted to pass a $1.1 trillion spending bill covering the remainder of the fiscal year 2017—approving a $2 billion increase for NIH.

  • Impact of Proposed Cuts to NIH Budget: More Than Just About Cancer

    If enacted, the proposed budget reduction of $5.8 billion to the National Institutes of Health will slow research, deprive patients afflicted with cancer of hope, and deliver a devastating blow to our science workforce and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. This proposed reduction directly counters the wisdom of the U.S. Congress, who less than a year ago overwhelmingly passed the 21st Century Cures Act.

  • Faculty Senate Chair Julie Izzo: MD Anderson has evolved beyond “autocratic structure”

    MD Anderson, through its Shared Governance Committee,  is moving away from an “autocratic” structure, said Julie Izzo, chair of the Faculty Senate and an associate professor in Translational Molecular Pathology at MD Anderson Cancer Center.

  • In Brief

    • Stephen Gruber steps down as director at USC Norris
    • Bhavesh Ashar named to lead U.S. oncology business at Bayer
    • UAB expands cancer navigation program nationally with Guideway Care
    • Paul Goldberg finalist for Sami Rohr Prize
  • Drugs and Targets

    • FDA grants an accelerated approval for AstraZeneca’s Imfinzi for urothelial carcinoma
    • Draft Local Coverage Determination favorable to Oncotype DX Genomic Prostate Score
    • Opdivo gets European approval for squamous cell head and neck cancer
Issue 17 - Apr 28, 2017
  • Beckerle reinstated as director of Huntsman Cancer Institute

    A week after her abrupt firing, Mary Beckerle is back in her job as director and CEO of the Huntsman Cancer Institute.

    The remarkable turnaround comes eight days after the same leadership fired Beckerle—a highly regarded scientist who has led the cancer center since 2006—with no justification other than that she serves at the pleasure of the senior vice president for health sciences (The Cancer Letter, April 21).

  • U of Utah department chairs urge colleagues to sign petition supporting Vivian Lee

    The text of the petition follows:

    This is a critical moment. It is bigger than any one of us and it will have implications for our university and health system for years—maybe decades—to come.

    If we let the commentary and mis-characterizations of the past week go unchecked, our institution, reputation, and leadership will be damaged beyond repair.

  • Soon-Shiong and The Art of the Deal:

    Billionaire gives $12M to the U of Utah, takes $10M in orders for his company

    Under ordinary circumstances, a $12 million gift from a charitable foundation to a university is a cause for celebration.

    Indeed, in September 2014, the university put on considerable hoopla to mark a gift from three charitable entities connected to the pharmaceuticals billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong (The Cancer Letter, April 21).

  • Tom Curran: Contract between NantHealth and U of Utah “seems a bit expensive”

    Starting in 2008, I worked closely with Peter Phillips to establish the Children’s Brain Tumor Tissue Consortium designed to generate a biorepository of rare biospecimens, with associated clinical information and genomic data, that could be shared with the research community.

  • Conversation with The Cancer Letter

    No future collaborations with NantHealth are planned, U of Utah says

    The Cancer Letter sent the following questions to the University of Utah and a nearly identical list of questions to Soon-Shiong’s spokesperson. Julie Kiefer, manager, scientific communications at the University of Utah, provided responses to these questions. No response was received from Soon-Shiong’s offices.

  • In Brief

    • SU2C awards $1 million to four research teams through Phillip A. Sharp Awards
    • Aurora Cancer Care launches precision medicine program
    • Cold Spring Harbor to collaborate with Chan Zuckerberg Initiative
    • Jason Chesney named director of University of Louisville
    • Kimberly Stegmaier wins St. Baldrick’s Foundation Arceci Innovation Award
    • Lori Brown named ONS’s first chief experience officer
    • Western IRB, Huron form alliance to serve research programs at academic centers
  • Drugs and Targets

    • FDA approves midostaurin combination for AML; Companion diagnostic also approved
    • FDA expands indications for regorafinib in hepatocellular carcinoma
    • FDA grants accelerate approval for brigatinib for ALK-positive NSCLC
    • FDA takes action against 14 companies for selling illegal cancer treatments
    • DelMar collaborates with Duke to study VAL-083 as front-line GBM treatment