20141024 - Oct 24, 2014
ISSUE 40 – OCT. 24, 2014PDF



40 Years Later
Doctor and Patient Reflect on the Cure

On Oct. 21, 1974, John Cleland lay in a hospital bed at Indiana University Hospital.

At 23, he had just graduated from Purdue University and just married.

He was also three weeks into a fourth-line chemotherapy regimen for advanced metastatic testicular cancer. The disease had spread to his lungs.

Lawrence Einhorn, Cleland’s doctor, told him that this was the end of the road.

Conversation with The Cancer Letter
Einhorn: “I Still Harbor Hope For Similar Success Stories”

The Cancer Letter asked Lawrence Einhorn, distinguished professor of medicine and the Livestrong Foundation Professor of Oncology at the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center, to reflect on one of the most spectacular successes in the history of cancer research—his development of the curative regimen for testicular cancer.

Caris Life Sciences Lays Off Estimated 20 Percent of Staff

Caris Life Sciences Inc. last week reduced its workforce by 50 people—about 20 percent, sources said.

While a 50-person reduction in force is small by pharma industry standards, the development could be significant because Caris is a key player in the emerging market for molecular therapies.

HRSA: Discounts Owed on Some Orphan Drug Uses

The Health Resources and Services Administration last week warned pharmaceutical companies that they must continue to offer 340B Drug Pricing Program discounts on some uses of orphan drugs.

Cancer Support Community Reports on Patient Experiences

Cancer Support Community released the findings report from the first year-and-a-half of the Cancer Experience Registry.

Institute of Medicine Elects 80 New Members

The Institute of Medicine named 70 new members and 10 foreign associates during its 44th annual meeting.

New members are elected by current active members through a selective process that recognizes individuals who have made major contributions to the advancement of the medical sciences, health care, and public health.

photoIn Brief

  • Benjamin Neel named director of NYU Cancer Center

  • Brad Pollock named chair of public health department at UC Davis

  • Richard Zellars named chair of radiation oncology at IU School of Medicine

  • David Mauro named chief medical officer and VP of Advaxis Inc.

  • James Tulsky receives award from American Cancer Society

  • Mary Kozik named senior director of development at Winship Cancer Institute

  • Northwestern Mutual and Alex’s Lemonade Stand fund eight young investigators

  • Association of Community Cancer Centers receives gift from Bristol-Myers Squibb

  • Stand Up To Cancer epigenetics dream team receives $7.5 million from Van Andel Research Institute

photoDrugs and Targets

  • EU approves Imbruvica in MCL, CLL

  • CMS publishes two draft coverage determinations for molecular prostate cancer tests

  • Priority Health to cover FoundationOne genomic profiles

  • Celgene and Sutro Biopharma to collaborate on antibody-drug conjugates

20141017 - Oct 17, 2014
ISSUE 39 – OCT. 17, 2014PDF



Indiana to Close Proton Beam Facility
Amid Nationwide Building Boom

At its opening a decade ago, the Indiana University Health Proton Therapy Center was one of four such facilities in the U.S.

Alas, money woes struck immediately. The center has run at a deficit for most of its existence—recently losing over $3.5 million in operating costs in fiscal 2013. And now the center is a landmark once again: On Jan. 1, 2015, it will become the first proton beam center in the U.S. to be closed.

Conversation with The Cancer Letter
IU’s Loehrer Discusses “Business Decision” To Close Bloomington Proton Beam Center

The Cancer Letter asked Patrick Loehrer, director of the Indiana University Melvin & Bren Simon Cancer Center, to discuss his institution’s decision to close its 10-year-old proton beam center.

No other institution in the U.S. has closed such a facility. 

Genentech Reps Not Welcome

Hospitals Urge Drug Maker to Reverse Policy

On Supplying Avastin, Rituxan, & Herceptin

Cancer centers and other hospitals, reeling from the loss of discounts and rebates on three widely used cancer drugs, are seeking to persuade drug maker Genentech to reverse its decision to channel these medications through six specialty distributors.

ASCO Endorses Guideline for Molecular Testing

The American Society of Clinical Oncology endorsed a joint clinical practice guideline on molecular testing published by the College of American Pathologists, the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer, and the Association for Molecular Pathology. 

IARC Publishes Fourth Edition of European Code Against Cancer

The fourth edition of the European Code Against Cancer was published by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, with the participation of the European Commission. 

Funding Opportunity

Stand Up To Cancer Canada to Fund Two Dream Teams

Stand Up To Cancer Canada will support two, four-year cancer research dream teams with nearly $20 million USD raised by SU2C Canada collaborators and from the charity’s September telecast. The dream teams will focus their research on translational research in breast cancer and cancer stem cells.

photoIn Brief

  • Francis Giles named deputy director of Lurie Cancer Center

  • Zhu Chen honored by American Association for Cancer Research

  • Lili Yang receives $2.3 million award from NIH

  • Indiana University Simon Cancer Center re-designated as NCI cancer center

  • Cancer Treatment Centers of America launch fertility preservation program

  • Lurie Cancer Center to collaborate with Perthera Inc.

  • ASCO publishes survivorship care plan template

photoDrugs and Targets

  • FDA approves Velcade in mantle cell lymphoma

  • Priority Review granted to lenvatinib in thyroid cancer

  • Blinatumomab granted Priority Review in acute lymphoblastic leukemia

20141010 - Oct 10, 2014
ISSUE 38 – OCT. 10, 2014PDF



NCI Failed to Publish Two Bypass Budgets

As Funds Tightened and Sequestration Set In

What’s the NCI director’s professional judgment of opportunities in cancer research at a time of shrinking budgets, sequestration and conclusion of the windfall of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act?

Under ordinary circumstances, this question wouldn’t have required a mind reader. The NCI director has an authority no other government executive enjoys: every year, he submits a summary of scientific opportunities directly to the White House, bypassing review by the NIH director and officials at the place ominously called “Downtown,” the brutalist-style HHS headquarters at the base of Capitol Hill.

Guest Editorial
Andrew Vickers on PSA Skepticism, Rational and Irrational

I consider myself a prostate cancer screening skeptic. For example, in the title of the grand rounds lecture I have given for many years, I describe PSA as a “public health fiasco.”

I have also gone on the record to state: “PSA testing as it is commonly practiced in the U.S. is indefensible.”

UT Board Announces Support for MD Anderson Tenure System

The University of Texas System Board of Regents has—in response to the threat of censure by an external group—voted to continue support of MD Anderson Cancer Center’s seven-year term tenure system.

Study: Drug Discounts Used For Wealthier Patients In Many 340B-Enrolled Hospitals

Hospitals that qualified for the 340B drug pricing program in 2004 or later were more likely to serve wealthier communities with higher rates of health insurance coverage, according to a study published Oct. 6 in the journal Health Affairs.

The primary purpose of the 340B program—established by Congress in 1992—was to provide significantly discounted outpatient drugs to low-income and uninsured patients.

photoIn Brief

  • ESMO Names Annual Award Winners
  • Phoenix Children’s Hospital launches The Chan Soon-Shiong Children’s Precision Medicine Institute
  • C. Parker Gibbs Jr. appointed deputy director of medical affairs for the University of Florida Health Cancer Center.
  • MD Anderson Cancer Center’s Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Institute for Personalized Cancer Therapy launches fellowship program
  • Ohio State University completes five-year pharmaceuticals center project
  • MD Anderson and VolitionRx Limited announce collaboration
  • Andrew Brenner receives $1.62 million grant from FDA
photoDrugs and Targets

  • Akynzeo approved for chemotherapy-related nausea
  • DNX-2401 granted orphan drug designation
  • Caris Life Sciences launches pilot program through the U.K. National Health Service
  • Mayo Clinic partners with Second Genome Inc.
  • Bristol-Myers Squibb and MD Anderson collaborate on immunotherapies
  • PhRMA Report details nearly 800 cancer therapies currently in development