20160205 - Feb 5, 2016
ISSUE 5 – FEB. 5, 2016PDF



Slamming the Door

Part II: Cancer’s Butt

CPRIT’s review process appeared to have become a major annoyance to those who wanted to redraft the criteria for dispensing the princely sum of $300 million a year. Texas geography and Texas politics did matter—a lot.

The cross-state competition between MD Anderson Cancer Center and UT Southwestern Medical Center proved to be especially important.

MD Anderson has long been a clinical powerhouse, the kind of place you go with a complicated cancer. If it ramped up its basic science, the cancer center would be better positioned to understand the origins of cancer and make more fundamental contributions to treatment of cancers, including discovering useful drug candidates and moving them from the bench to the clinic.

White House Promises $1 Billion for Cancer MoonshotThe White House announced a $1 billion initiative Feb. 1 to jumpstart the national cancer moonshot program—an ambitious proposal first announced by President Barack Obama during his final State of the Union address.

Vice President Joe Biden, whose son Beau died of brain cancer in May 2015 at age 46, is leading the program, which aims to achieve a decade’s worth of progress within the next five years.

FDA Releases New Opioid Plan as Senators Stall Robert Califf’s Confirmation as Commissioner

Robert Califf, the nominee to serve as the next FDA commissioner, and other FDA leaders called for a broad plan to reassess the agency’s approach to prescription opioid medications. The move comes as Senators block a vote on his confirmation for the top post.

Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont have both placed procedural holds on Califf’s confirmation, citing the agency’s policies and methods for approving opioids, as well as Califf’s financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

In Brief

  • Lonial named head of hematology and oncology at Winship Cancer Institute
  • Stand Up To Cancer Canada announces brain cancer dream team
  • Keith Hanson McGregor named CEO of ESMO
  • M. Beatriz Currier joins Miami Cancer Institute
  • H. Benjamin Harvey and Courtney Moreno receive ACR fellowship
  • Van Andel Research Institute-SU2C Dream Team trial enters phase II
Drugs and Targets

  • Venetoclax receives third FDA breakthrough designation
  • FDA tells Telesta they need another phase III MCNA trial
  • Mayo Clinic collaborates with Morphotek in triple-negative breast cancer study.
20160129 - Jan 29, 2016
ISSUE 4 – JAN. 29, 2016PDF



Slamming the Door

How Al Gilman Taught Texas A Lesson in Science

Alfred Gilman’s approach to distributing public funds wasn’t particularly difficult to understand: he wanted to pay for the best science available. Period.

The pot of money entrusted to Gilman was vast. In 2007, Texas voters approved the largest investment in cancer research outside the federal government: $3 billion, to be spent over 10 years. By way of comparison, NCI grants going to Texas researchers and institutions added up to $240 million a year. CPRIT more than doubled that money. Only Texans were eligible to apply.

Gilman accepted the CPRIT job at age 68, because he thought that it would be a significant contribution to a major research effort, and a nice way to finish out a long career.

Sixty-Nine Cancer Centers Urge HPV VaccinationIn an unprecedented move, 69 NCI-designated cancer centers have come together to advocate for HPV vaccination as a preventive measure against many HPV-related cancers.

“HPV vaccination is our best defense in stopping HPV infection in our youth and preventing HPV-related cancers in our communities,” the centers said in a consensus statement published Jan. 27. “The HPV vaccine is cancer prevention.”

PCORI Passes $1.2 Billion in Total Research Funding

The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute approved $70 million for nine new patient-centered research projects focused on conditions including ductal carcinoma in situ, diabetes, chronic lung disease and migraines.

With these latest awards, PCORI has now approved or awarded more than $1.2 billion in research funding.

In Brief

  • Minesh Mehta named deputy director at Miami Cancer Institute
  • Carmen Solórzano named chief of Division of Surgical Oncology at Vanderbilt
  • Judy Keen named ASTRO director of scientific affairs
  • Tara Yates joins Wistar Institute as director of communications
  • Ovarian Cancer National Alliance and Ovarian Cancer Research Fund merge
  • UC San Diego Health selects e+CancerCare to operate Chula Vista radiation center
  • Harvard Business School launches Precision Trials Challenge
Drugs and Targets

  • FDA expands Opdivo-Yervoy Label with accelerated approval in melanoma
  • Halaven approved for unresectable or metastatic liposarcoma
  • Zepatier approved for treatment of chronic hepatitis C
20160122 - Jan 22, 2016
ISSUE 3 – JAN. 22, 2016PDF



Biden’s Cancer Moonshot to Focus
On Bioinformatics and Data Sharing

The Obama administration will find the money to create a comprehensive oncology bioinformatics system, Vice President Joe Biden pledged Jan. 19 at a meeting of international cancer experts at the World Economic Forum in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland.

Biden, whose son Beau died of brain cancer in May 2015 at age 46, is leading the White House “moonshot” program, which was announced by President Barack Obama during his final State of the Union address Jan. 12 (The Cancer Letter, Jan. 15).

Obama is expected to announce the details of funding the moonshot in his budget proposal Feb. 9.

 Biden: Cancer Moonshot Seeks Quantum Leaps, Not Incremental Change

The text of Vice President Joe Biden’s Jan. 19 remarks at a World Economic Forum meeting of international cancer experts in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, follows:

Almost everyone in the world, as you all know, has a family member who’s had cancer. Every year, around the world, 14 million people are diagnosed with cancer and 8 million people succumb to it, die, from cancer.

And like many of you, I have experienced in my family the dreaded C-word that I think is the most frightening word that most people—as these docs and scientists can tell you—that anyone wants to hear walking out of a doctor’s office.

     

    Guest Editorial

    The False Allure of The Cancer Cure

    By Robert Cook-Deegan

    Over the past century, we have had many wars on cancer, and now we have a national “moonshot” to be spearheaded by Vice President Joe Biden, announced in President Barack Obama’s Jan. 12 State of the Union Address.

    In 1937, even as Congress was establishing the National Cancer Institute as the first of the National Institutes of Health, the American Committee to Combat Cancer was organizing the “Women’s Field Army” to mobilize against cancer, especially uterine, ovarian, and breast cancers. The main argument was that the nation was spending vastly more per person affected, and per death, on polio than it was on cancer. It was framed as a war.

      In Brief

      • James Willson named chief scientific officer of CPRIT

      • Mary-Claire King wins the Szent-Györgyi Prize for Progress in Cancer Research

      • Mylin Torres named director of Glenn Family Breast Center at Winship
      • New York Genome Center receives $100 million grant from the Simons Foundation and Carson Family Charitable Trust

      • MD Anderson Cancer Center and AbbVie form immuno-oncology collaboration

      Drugs and Targets

      • Venetoclax receives Breakthrough Therapy Designation from FDA

      • FDA grants Priority Review to lenvatinib