20160415 - Apr 18, 2016
ISSUE 15 – April 15, 2016PDF



Parker Bets $250 Million on Immunotherapy

A foundation established by Silicon Valley entrepreneur Sean Parker—founder of Napster and first president of Facebook—has committed $250 million to research in cancer immunotherapy.

The newly founded Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy brings together immunologists from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Stanford University, UCLA, UCSF, MD Anderson Cancer Center and the University of Pennsylvania.

 

Conversation with The Cancer Letter

Parker Mantra: Collaborate Like Hell

The Cancer Letter invited Jedd Wolchok, associate attending physician and chief of the Melanoma and Immunotherapeutics Service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, to describe the workings of the just-announced Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy.

Slamming the Door

Part X – Silencing Faculty Voice

In the fall of 2012, just before Al Gilman’s departure, MD Anderson officials cracked down on internal critics.

On Sept. 26, 2012, Raphael Pollock, head of MD Anderson’s Division of Surgery, was summoned to the office of Thomas Burke, then the executive vice president and physician-in-chief, and was relieved of his duties.

Pollock, who is Jewish, was fired on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.

Letter to the Editor

Former MD Anderson Provost Reflects on “Brief, Painful Episode”

By Raymond DuBois

Over the past several weeks, The Cancer Letter has been running a series of articles that report on a past conflict between people at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and Nobel Laureate Al Gilman, who led the scientific review teams of the then newly formed Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas.

At the time of the controversy, I was the founding provost and executive vice president at the MD Anderson Cancer Center, a position I enjoyed greatly. While I have no desire to revisit this brief, and somewhat painful episode in my academic career, I have been written into Goldberg’s Texas drama as an important bit player and therefore feel compelled to go on record and provide my view of the story.

FDA Inspects Hospitals for Morcellation Harm;
Congressman Draws VP Biden’s Attention to Issue

FDA has conducted inspections of several hospitals—including Brigham & Women’s Hospital—based on allegations that physicians and administrators did not report patient harm and deaths resulting from power morcellators.

In a March 29 letter to Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), the agency said it “takes these issues very seriously.”

“In recent months, we have conducted inspections of hospitals highlighted in your letter, including Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Rochester General Hospital, and the University of Rochester Medical Center,” FDA officials wrote, responding to a Dec. 18, 2015, letter from Fitzpatrick to the agency’s Office of Criminal Investigations.

Stand Up to Cancer Debuts Catalyst Research Program With Merck, BMS and Genentech

Stand Up to Cancer announced Catalyst, a program that will use funding and materials from the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, diagnostic and medical devices industries to accelerate research on cancer prevention, detection and treatment.

Founding collaborator Merck; and Bristol-Myers Squibb, and Genentech, a member of the Roche Group, will serve as charter supporters.

In Brief
  • Jeffrey Sosman named director of melanoma program at Northwestern

  • Eric Dishman named director of NIH Precision Medicine Initiative Cohort Program

  • Ed Sauter named director of breast surgery at Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute

  • Maya Martinez-Davis appointed global head of oncology franchise at Merck KGaA
  • Lynn Matrisian named chief research officer for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network

  • Karin Jooss named chief scientific officer of Gritstone Oncology

  • USPSTF publishes B recommendation for low-dose aspirin regimen for primary prevention of colorectal cancer and cardiovascular disease

  • International Myeloma Foundation to fund large screening study in Iceland

  • MD Anderson Cancer Center dedicates new personalized medicine building

  • UC Davis and Novogene establish campus genomics center

  • University of Florida signs proton therapy contract with Ion Beam Applications
Drugs and Targets
  • FDA grants accelerated approval to Venclexta in CLL

  • FDA approved Epi proColon blood screening test

  • FDA granted priority review for atezolizumab in NSCLC

20160408 - Apr 4, 2016
ISSUE 14 – April 8, 2016PDF



Jacks, Jaffee, Singer Named Co-Chairs of NCI’s Moonshot Blue Ribbon Panel

NCI announced a panel of advisors to inform the scientific direction and goals of Vice President Joe Biden’s National Cancer Moonshot Initiative.

The 28-member Blue Ribbon Panel, a committee of scientific experts, cancer leaders, and patient advocates, will serve as the working group of the National Cancer Advisory Board and provide scientific guidance from opinion leaders in the cancer community.

 

FDA Allows Containment Bags for Power Morcellators; Paper Reports Leakage

FDA granted permission to an Irish company to market the “PneumoLiner,” a first-of-its-kind containment system indicated for isolating and containing uterine tissue during a minimally invasive hysterectomy or myomectomy. The agency announced its action April 7.

Gynecologists will soon be able to use the containment system—designed to prevent dissemination of potentially cancerous tissue—with specific models of power morcellators to conduct laparoscopic surgery in a limited population of women.

ORIEN Partners with Pharma Companies to Develop Precision Medicines with Big Data

The Oncology Research Information Exchange Network and M2Gen formed a bioinformatics collaboration with Celgene Corp.

The partnership, announced April 7, is called the ORIEN Avatar Research Program. The initiative is managed by M2Gen and is designed to generate large amounts of genetic and clinical information on patients consenting to the Total Cancer Care Protocol, a standard operating protocol used by ORIEN member institutions.

Caligiuri Named President-Elect of AACR

Michael Caligiuri was named president-elect by the members of the American Association for Cancer Research. He will officially become president-elect at the AACR’s annual meeting in New Orleans, April 16-20, and will assume the presidency at the 2017 annual meeting.

Caligiuri is director of The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center and CEO of the Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute. He holds the John L. Marakas Nationwide Insurance Enterprise Foundation chair in cancer research and is a professor in The Ohio State University College of Medicine Departments of Molecular Virology, Immunology and Medical Genetics and Internal Medicine.

In Brief
  • Timothy Eberlein elected Chairman of NCCN Board of Directors

  • Carbone Cancer Center joins NCCN as member institution

  • Larry Kwak wins 2013 Ho-Am Prize in Medicine

  • Joel Helmke named senior vice president of operations at City of Hope
  • Anne Jadwin honored by Sigma Theta Tau nursing honor society

  • Paul Bushdid joins Southern Research

  • Dana Farber and Ontario Institute for Cancer Research join OHSU and Intel’s data cloud program

  • RareCyte signs CRADA with NCI

  • IBM launches Watson center in Milan, Italy

  • Schulman IRB selected for Cancer MoonShot 2020 program
Drugs and Targets
  • EU approves two-dose schedule for Gardasil 9

  • Halaven receives positive opinion from CHMP in liposarcomas

  • OncoBEAM RAS CRC test receives CE mark

  • University of Chicago and Evelo Biosciences enters licensing agreement
20160401 - Apr 1, 2016
ISSUE 13 – April 1, 2016PDF



NCI Makes Plans for Moonshot Dollars

At a meeting of the NCI Board of Scientific Advisors March 29, NCI officials had good news to report:

• The appropriations are increasing, with bipartisan support to boot.

• The White House “moonshot” initiative on cancer is bringing new money and new urgency to the institute’s work.

The cancer program has seen many aggressive mandates and has made many big promises, and it’s worthwhile to remember this current initiative is being launched by an administration that is concluding its term.

 

AVEO Execs Face Fraud Charges from SEC;

Company to Pay $4 Million to Settle

The Securities and Exchange Commission March 29 announced fraud charges against AVEO Pharmaceuticals Inc., a biotechnology company, and three of its former executives.

SEC said the company agreed to pay a $4 million penalty to settle the charges without admitting or denying the allegations.

The agency said it is continuing to pursue its case against three of AVEO’s former officers: CEO Tuan Ha-Ngoc, Chief Financial Officer David Johnston, and Chief Medical Officer William Slichenmyer.

Schools of Public Health: Cancer Moonshot Undervalues Prevention

Over 70 deans and directors of public health programs and institutes signed a letter March 21 asking the White House for to prioritize federal investments in public health and cancer prevention.

The letter, addressed to Vice President Joe Biden, urges the administration to “pay careful attention to the balance between treatment and prevention-related investments.”

In Brief
  • Dinah Singer and Warren Kibbe named acting NCI deputy directors

  • Peter Paul Yu named physician-in-chief at Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute

  • Greg Simon named executive director of national cancer moonshot initiative

  • Johns Hopkins launches Bloomberg-Kimmel Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy
  • Hyundai Hope on Wheels announces $1 million in pediatric research grants

  • MD Anderson and TESARO form immuno-oncology collaboration

Drugs and Targets
  • FDA publishes draft guidance on biosimilar product labeling

  • FDA approves Defitelio for veno-occlusive disease following transplantation

  • FDA grants Orphan Drug Designation to Iomab-B