20160422 - Apr 25, 2016
ISSUE 16 – April 22, 2016PDF



AACR 2016

Biden Asks for Guidance in Leading Moonshot

“There is more brain power in this room than exists in many countries,” said Vice President Joe Biden, addressing over 4,000 members of the American Association for Cancer Research, during a speech that turned personal at times, as he laid out several suggestions for accelerating progress.

As head of the federal government’s cancer moonshot task force, the vice president listed recommendations he has received for reaching the initiative’s goal, not a cure, but completion of a decade’s worth of cancer research in five years. Recommendations include increasing research budgets across the federal government, making it easier to share data, removing paywalls around published research, and incentivizing verification of study results.

“Toward that end, last year, the 2016 budget, and working with Congress, we were able to increase funding by $2 billion for the National Institutes of Health. The largest increase in a decade,” Biden said at the association’s annual meeting April 20 in New Orleans.

 

Comparison with AstraZeneca Drug Hard to Ignore as ODAC Votes Down NSCLC Application from Clovis

A phase III trial will be needed to determine approvability of the Clovis Oncology Inc. agent rociletinib for the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer, the FDA Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee recommended.

At a meeting April 12, ODAC in effect voted against granting an accelerated approval of rociletinib for the treatment of patients with mutant epidermal growth factor receptor non-small cell lung cancer who have been previously treated with an EGFR-targeted therapy and have the EGFR T790M mutation as detected by an FDA approved test.

Guest Editorial

Thirty Years after Chernobyl: Lessons Learned

By Robert Peter Gale

April 26 marks the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear power facility accident in the former Soviet Union. Soon after the accident, I received a call from the Soviet ambassador to the U.S. on behalf of Mikhail Gorbachev asking me to come immediately to Moscow.

The world (but not Soviet citizens) had been following the spread of a radioactive cloud over Europe for several days and I offered the Soviet government access to advanced medical technologies I knew they lacked. I arrived to find about 205 of the most seriously-affected victims had been flown to Hospital 6 in Moscow connected to the Institute for Biophysics.

AACR 2016 – In Brief

Nancy Davidson Begins Term as AACR President; Weinberg Gets Lifetime Achievement Award

Nancy Davidson was inaugurated as president of the American Association for Cancer Research for 2016-2017 at the association’s annual meeting in New Orleans.

Davidson is the director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute. She also serves as associate vice chancellor for cancer research; the Hillman professor of oncology; a distinguished professor of medicine and pharmacology and chemical biology; and a professor in the Clinical and Translational Science Institute at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Her research focuses on clinical and translational breast cancer research and cancer biology and treatment.

Also:

Academy of Arts and Sciences Elects 213 Members

The American Academy of Arts and Sciences elected 213 new members, including some of the world’s most accomplished scholars, scientists, writers, artists, as well as civic, business, and philanthropic leaders.

BSA Approves Plan to Expand SEER Infrastructure, Funding, and Research Support Capacity

The NCI Board of Scientific Advisors approved a proposal to expand the infrastructure and capacity of the SEER program, including introducing registries designed specifically to support cancer research projects, an increase of the program’s overall budget, and moving toward a more advanced, uniform data management system.

The new structure of the surveillance program would create core registries, selected through a competition of the U.S. central cancer registries, which would then collect the most comprehensive data to be used for SEER statistics and public use.

 

Cell Therapy Production, Patient Accrual Suspended at Rosenberg’s Lab at NCI

NIH has suspended the facilities that produce investigational compounds for an NCI laboratory engaged in cell therapy production and a National Institute of Mental Health facility producing positron emission tomography materials.

As a result, no new new patients will be enrolled in affected trials until the issues are resolved, NIH said in a press release.

 Drugs and Targets
  • FDA grants approval to Gilotrif tablets in squamous cell lung cancer

  • University of Chicago and AbbVie to form five-year collaboration

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