Author Interviews, Biomarkers, Cancer Research, ENT, HPV / 03.10.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Elizabeth Franzmann, M.D. Scientific Founder and Chief Scientific Officer Vigilant Biosciences MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Head and neck cancer involves cancers of the oral cavity, oropharynx and larynx. It is difficult to treat. Part of the challenge is that it is distinguishing the patients with tumors that are going to behave aggressively from those with less aggressive disease. As a result, many patients undergo treatment that may be more intensive and morbid than they need while others need more aggressive treatment. Tissue markers associated with prognosis may be able to help clinicians differentiate patients who need more aggressive treatment from those whose treatment can be less intensive. CD44 is a cell surface glycoprotein and tumor-initiating marker. CD44 and another surface protein, EGFR, are involved in tumor extension and are associated with poor prognosis. Certain forms of Human Papillomavirus (HPV) are known to cause oropharyngeal cancer and are associated with a good prognosis. P16 is a surrogate marker for the kind of HPV that causes cancer. Understanding the relationships between how these markers are expressed in cancer tissue may direct patient treatment in the future. (more…)
Author Interviews, Journal Clinical Oncology, Prostate Cancer, Surgical Research, Urology / 30.09.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Eric Jacobs, PHD Strategic Director, Pharmacoepidemiology American Cancer Society, Inc. 250 Williams St. Atlanta, GA 30303 MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Vasectomy is a common, inexpensive, and very effective method of long-term birth control. However, in 2014, an analysis from a large epidemiologic cohort study, the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, found that vasectomy was associated with about 10% higher overall risk of prostate cancer and about 20% higher risk of fatal prostate cancer. Together with other researchers at the American Cancer Society, I analyzed the association between vasectomy and fatal prostate cancer among more than 363,000 men in the Cancer Prevention Study II (CPS-II) cohort, age 40 and older, who were followed for up to 30 years. This is the largest prospective analysis of vasectomy and fatal prostate cancer to date. We also examined vasectomy and prostate cancer in a subset of about 66,000 CPS-II study participants who were followed for new diagnoses of prostate cancer. We found no link between having had a vasectomy and risk of either developing or dying from prostate cancer. (more…)
Author Interviews, Brain Cancer - Brain Tumors, Radiation Therapy, Yale / 30.09.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Nataniel Lester-Coll, MD Chief Resident in Radiation Oncology at Yale New Haven, Connecticut  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Recurrent Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM) has limited treatment options and the prognosis is poor. Mibefradil diydrochloride was identified using a high-throughput compound screen for DNA double stranded break repair inhibitors. Mibefradil was found to radiosensitize GBM tumor cells in vitro and in vivo. Based on these findings, we sought to determine the maximum tolerated dose of mibefradil and radiation therapy in a Phase I recurrent GBM study. Eligible patients with recurrent  Glioblastoma Multiforme received Mibefradil over a 17 day period, with hypofractionated radiation (600 cGy x 5 fractions). There are 18 patients currently enrolled who have completed treatment. Thus far, there is no clear evidence of radionecrosis. A final dose level of 200 mg/day was reached as the maximum tolerated dose. The drug was very well tolerated at this dose. We saw intriguing evidence of enhanced local control in selected cases. Patients enrolled in a translational substudy who received Mibefradil prior to surgery were found to have adequate levels of Mibefradil in resected brain tumor tissue. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Science / 30.09.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Paola Scaffidi, PhD Group Leader Cancer Epigenetics Laboratory The Francis Crick Institute London MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Every cancer is different, but even within the same tumor cells are highly diverse, and only some of them are truly immortal and drive tumor growth. This is quite surprising if we think that cancer arises from one cell that keeps replicating itself. So why are some cancer cells more dangerous than others? And why do some cells "get tired" along the way and, at some point, stop dividing? In our study we describe one cellular mechanism that provides some answers to these questions. We have found that to be able to divide indefinitely, cancer cells have to strongly reduce the levels of a nuclear protein called histone H1.0. This is needed to allow activation of many genes important for cancer cell proliferation, which otherwise would be somehow "hidden" within the cell nucleus. Importantly, though, while tumors grow, some cells raise back the levels of H1.0, which hides these genes again and makes the cells stop proliferating. So the end result is that within the same tumor we have a mix of cells, some which keep these important genes on, while others switch them off and, as a consequence, lose their ability to divide, and differentiate into a more mature state. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, Cancer Research, Education / 30.09.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Adam Brufsky, MD, PhD, FACP Medical Director of the Women's Cancer Center University of Pittsburgh Medical Center MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
  • The Make Your Dialogue Count survey was conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of Novartis between June 20 and August 22, 2014. A total of 359 surveys were collected among women 21 years+ living with advanced breast cancer in addition to 234 caregivers of women with advanced breast cancer and 252 licensed oncologists who treat at least five advanced breast cancer patients per month within the United States. Novartis conducted the survey with guidance from oncologists, patient advocacy experts and a psychologist to better understand the dialogue around treatment goals and decisions that takes place among advanced breast cancer patients, caregivers and oncologists.
  • Main survey findings show communication gaps exist in discussions between patients and oncologists, particularly around treatment plans and goals.
  • 89% of patients and 76% of oncologists said that it’s important or very important to discuss long-term treatment plans beyond the current recommended treatment at their initial advanced breast cancer diagnosis. Yet, 43% of patients reported that this did not take place.
  • 70% of patients and 65% of oncologists said that it’s important or very important to refer patients to support services at their initial advanced breast cancer diagnosis. Yet, only 36% of patients reported that this was something their doctor did.
  • 23% of oncologists said that at times their emotions have kept them from sharing certain information with their advanced breast cancer patients, and 27% of oncologists said that, in certain situations, they do not discuss with patients the fact that advanced breast cancer is incurable.
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Author Interviews, Biomarkers, Cancer Research, Prostate Cancer, Science / 27.09.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Iryna Saranchova MD PhD candidate Michael Smith Laboratories Vancouver, BC MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? • The immune system is efficient at identifying and halting the tumour emergence at early stages. However, when metastatic (sufficient to cause death) tumour appears, the immune system is no longer able to recognize the cancer cells and control their growth and spread. • Recent studies of solid cancers have shown considerable heterogeneity between different tumour types and several lines of evidence suggest that tumours are not only heterogeneous, but they constantly evolve during the disease progression and this often hampers the existing treatment methods. • It means that it is important to consider each patient’s mutational changes accumulated over time in antecedent primary, metastatic lesions and/or local recurrences. This approach will help to understand the mechanism of tumour development, create a background for specific treatment modality and prevent therapeutic failure with consequent systemic relapse of the disease • Therefore, in our project we were aiming to find possible immune markers of tumour transition from the primary stage to its metastatic form. For this purpose, we selected a special study model: two pairs of separate mouse tumour cell lines, where metastatic cells arose from the initial primary tumour. (more…)
Annals Internal Medicine, Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Colon Cancer, Geriatrics / 27.09.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Xabier Garcia-De-Albeniz MD PhD Research Associate Department of Epidemiology Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Mongan Institute for Health Policy Massachusetts General Hospital MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Randomized controlled trials are considered the gold standard to inform health care delivery. Unfortunately, no randomized controlled trials of screening colonoscopy have been completed. Ongoing trials exclude persons aged 75 or older, and will not have mature results before 2025. However, healthy persons older than 75 may live long enough to benefit from colorectal cancer (CRC) screening. The Medicare program reimburses screening colonoscopy without an upper age limit since the year 2001. We used the extensive experience of Medicare beneficiaries to evaluate the effectiveness and safety of screening colonoscopy. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Nature, Technology / 23.09.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Natalie Artzi PhD principal research scientist MIT's Institute for Medical Engineering and Science and Assistant professor of medicine Brigham and Women's Hospital With co-authors: Avital Gilam, João Conde, Daphna Weissglas-Volkov, Nuria Oliva, Eitan Friedman, Noam Shomron MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Metastases are the primary cause for mortality in breast cancer, the most common cancer in women regardless of ethnicity. Recent studies show that germline sequence variants, such as single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in miRNA-binding sites, can disrupt the downregulation by miRNAs, with a profound effect on gene expression levels and consequentially on the phenotype, including increased risk for cancer. In the current study, we aimed to determine the potential effect of SNPs within miRNA-binding sites on metastatic breast cancer progression and their potential use as suppression targets to prevent metastasis. Our collaborators at Tel-Aviv Universityin a research led by Dr. Noam Shomron found that the SNP, rs1071738, located in a target site for miR-96 and miR-182 on the 3’-UTR of the PALLD gene, encodes the Palladin actin-associated protein, which is a documented player in breast cancer motility. In vitro experiments revealed a functional downregulation of Palladin levels by miR-96 and miR-182, which subsequently reduces migration and invasion abilities of breast cancer cells. My lab then showed in an in vivo experiment that the use of nanoparticles embedded in a hydrogel scaffold as a miRNA delivery vehicle enables an efficient and specific delivery of miR-96/miR-182 directly to breast tumours, which results in marked reduction of breast cancer metastasis. We then proceeded to study the effect of combination therapy in which we will use a chemotherapy drug to shrink the primary tumor and the miRNAs to prevent metastasis. The intercalation of a chemotherapy drug, cisplatin, to the miR-conjugated nanoparticles further improved the effect, leading to significant reduction in both primary tumour growth and metastasis. Our study highlights the therapeutic potential of miRNAs, and specifically miR-96 and miR-182, and support the importance of Palladin regulation in breast cancer metastasis. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Technology / 23.09.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Grace G. Bushnell PhD candidate Department of Biomedical Engineering University of Michigan Ann Arbor, Michigan MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: This study builds off of previous work from the Shea and Jeruss laboratories at the University of Michigan, which reported that implanted scaffolds can capture early metastatic cells in vivo prior to the colonization of other organs and serve as a platform for early detection of metastatic disease. Furthermore, the presence of a scaffold reduced the tumor burden in other metastatic locations. In this work, the major finding was that early detection using a scaffold combined with a therapeutic intervention led to a survival advantage relative to mice that did not receive a scaffold. The scaffolds had been designed to persist in vivo for longer periods of time than in the original study. Additionally, the scaffold was implanted prior to the inoculation of metastatic cancer cells in the mouse. The role of the immune system in the process was further refined, as the immune cell composition at the scaffold changed significantly after disease initiation. These studies demonstrate that early intervention in a metastatic setting can lead to enhanced survival. This principle of early intervention is well established for the primary tumor, and these studies suggest that this principle may be extended to metastatic disease. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, Cancer, Genetic Research, UT Southwestern / 23.09.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Roshni Rao, M.D Breast Surgery University of Texas Southwestern MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) is characterized by not having estrogen, progesterone, or Her2Neu receptors. Although a less common type, it is aggressive, and leads to a disproportionate number of deaths from breast cancer. TNBC is more common in young, African American women, but can be found in other ethnic groups as well. This study performed mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis, to evaluate for patient genetic ancestry, in 92 patients with TNBC. In regards to self-identified ethnicity, there were 31 African-Americans, 31 Whites, and 30 Hispanics. Utilizing mtDNA, 13% of patients had discordance between self identified ethnicity and mtDNA analysis. Discordance was highest in the Hispanic group. The Hispanic patients were also much younger at initial age of diagnosis, and less likely to have a family history of breast cancer. Ancestry from Nigeria, Cameroon, or Sierre Leone were most common in the African-Americans with triple negative breast cancer. (more…)
ASCO, Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Journal Clinical Oncology / 22.09.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Darren R. Feldman, MD Medical Oncologist Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: There is limited knowledge as to why a minority of patients with advanced germ cell tumors are resistant to chemotherapy while the majority achieve complete responses. Patients with cisplatin-resistant disease require intensive salvage treatment and are at high risk of dying from their disease. We sought to determine whether certain genomic alterations within tumors might be associated with cisplatin-resistance in GCT. We also wanted to identify the spectrum of genomic alterations in this population which might represent novel targets for existing or new drug development in this disease. (more…)
Author Interviews, Dermatology, Geriatrics, Melanoma / 21.09.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: José Antonio Avilés-Izquierdo, PhD Department of Dermatology Hospital Gregorio Marañón Madrid, Spain MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Melanoma is responsible for most of skin cancer-related deaths and the cancer with the highest cost per death and the highest lost of productive-life years in Europe. Despite the importance on early diagnosis of cutaneous melanoma, there are few studies analyzing the reasons that lead patients with melanoma to consult. The impact on prognosis in patients with melanoma according to who first detects melanoma have not been established. (more…)
Author Interviews, Dermatology, Journal Clinical Oncology, Melanoma / 21.09.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Reza Ghiasvand, PhD Postdoctoral fellow, Department of Biostatistics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Oslo. Oslo, Norway MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: To date, findings from studies have been inconsistent. Some studies found a decreased risk of melanoma among sunscreen users, while others found no association or a higher risk of melanoma among sunscreen users. Several studies found that many sunscreen users do not apply sunscreens properly and do not reapply as recommended and stay longer in the sun after using sunscreen and as a result get sunburn and increase their risk of skin cancer. Our findings suggest higher UV exposure among sunscreen users compared to nonusers. However, those who used sunscreen with high SPF had 33% lower risk of melanoma compared to users of low SPF sunscreens. (more…)
AACR, Author Interviews, Cancer Research / 21.09.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Nancy Davidson, MD President of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) and Director,  Cancer Institute University of Pittsburgh Dr. Davidson discusses the 2016 AACR Cancer Progress Report. “The report serves as an educational document for both Congress and the public, alike. The report is a call to action, designed to urge Congress and the American public to stand firm in their commitment to the conquest of cancer”. MedicalResearch.com: What is the background and goals for this report? Dr. Davidson:
  • This is the sixth edition of our annual Cancer Progress Report.
  •  The annual report is the cornerstone of the AACR’s educational and advocacy efforts:
  • The report outlines efforts to increase public and Congressional understanding of cancer and the importance of cancer research to public health and
  • Efforts to advocate for increased federal funding for the NIH, NCI, FDA, and other federal agencies that are vital for fueling progress against cancer
  • The first report was written in 2011, the year that marked the 40th anniversary of the signing of the National Cancer Act of 1971, to commemorate the advances in cancer research that had been made to date and to paint a picture of where the science was leading us.
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Author Interviews, Brain Cancer - Brain Tumors, Case Western, MRI, Radiology, Technology / 19.09.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Pallavi Tiwari PhD Assistant Professor biomedical engineering Case Western Reserve University MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: One of the biggest challenges in neuro-oncology currently is distinguishing radionecrosis, a side-effect of aggressive radiation, from tumor recurrence on imaging. Surgical intervention is the only means of definitive diagnosis, but suffers from considerable morbidity and mortality. The treatments for radionecrosis and cancer recurrence are very different. Early identification of the two conditions can help speed prognosis, therapy, and improve patient outcomes. The purpose of this feasibility study was to evaluate the role of machine learning algorithms along with computer extracted texture features, also known as radiomic features, in distinguishing radionecrosis and tumor recurrence on routine MRI scans (T1w, T2w, FLAIR). The radiomic algorithms were trained on 43 studies from our local collaborating institution - University Hospitals Case Medical Center, and tested on 15 studies at a collaborating institution, University of Texas Southwest Medical Center. We further compared the performance of the radiomic techniques with two expert readers. Our results demonstrated that radiomic features can identify subtle differences in quantitative measurements of tumor heterogeneity on routine MRIs, that are not visually appreciable to human readers. Of the 15 test studies, the radiomics algorithm could identify 12 of 15 correctly, while expert 1 could identify 7 of 15, and expert 2, 8 of 15. (more…)
Author Interviews, Endocrinology, Prostate, Prostate Cancer, Testosterone, Urology / 19.09.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Jesse Ory Department of Urology, Faculty of Medicine Dalhousie University, Halifax Nova Scotia, Canada  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The use of Testosterone Therapy (TT) in men diagnosed with and treated for prostate cancer (CaP) has been highly controversial for several decades. Unfortunately, this controversy is largely founded on the results of a single patient in a study by Huggins and Hodges in the 1940s [1]. This wasn't challenged until recently, when Morgentaler reviewed the literature on the topic and found no scientific basis for the assumption that TT will act like fuel on the fire of prostate cancer [2]. He also proposed a mechanism, the "saturation hypothesis" that helps account for why TT may in fact be safe for men with prostate cancer. [3]. Over the past decade, retrospective evidence has been accumulating that supports the safety of Testosterone Therapy in hypogonadal men with CaP on Active Surveillance, or in those who have been definitively treated for prostate cancer.. (more…)
Author Interviews, Nutrition, Ovarian Cancer, Race/Ethnic Diversity, Vitamin D / 19.09.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Bo (Bonnie) Qin, Ph.D. Post-Doctoral Associate Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey New Brunswick, NJ 08903 MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Ovarian cancer is the leading cause of death from gynecologic cancer in the US. African-American patients diagnosed with ovarian cancer tend to have a worse 5-year survival rate compared to their European-American patients. Therefore, identifying preventive factors in African-Americans women is particularly important. African Americans tend to consume less calcium and vitamin D from dietary sources, due to a higher prevalence of lactose intolerance, and supplemental intake. Meanwhile, darker color of the skin reduces the synthesis of vitamin D upon sun exposure. They together place African-American women at risk for calcium and vitamin D deficiency. It remains unknown whether calcium, vitamin D, lactose and dairy products are associated with ovarian cancer risk in African-American women and our study aimed to answer this question. (more…)
Author Interviews, Biomarkers, Diabetes, Pancreatic / 19.09.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Pavel Škrha Charles University, Prague Czech Republic MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Incidence of pancreatic cancer (PAC) is still increasing. The main problem is in the late diagnosis of the cancer. It was found, that diabetes mellitus was much more frequent in the pancreatic cancer patients than in the general population. DM can be already the first symptom of the disease (secondry T3cDM). In our study nearly 80 % of all the pancreatic cancer patients had DM/prediabetes and it was of new-onset (less than 2 years before the cancer diagnosis) in 73 % out of them. We have measured the current marker of PAC (CA 19-9) together with serum microRNA-196 and -200 (that we have chosen in the previous pilot study). All the markers were significantly elevated in the pancreatic cancer patients, without any difference between the subgroups according to DM presence/absence. While the sensitivity of CA 19-9 alone (to detect the cancer) was 85 % (specificity 73 %), combining all the three markers improved it to 95 % (specificity 77 %). In the pancreatic cancer group, there were only six patients with T1 or T2 stage (others had an advanced stage of the disease - T3, T4). While CA 19-9 alone identified only 2 patients of them, the combined test identified all the six patients (data not shown in the poster). (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, JAMA / 15.09.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Tehillah S. Menes, MD Department of Surgery Tel Aviv-Sourasky Medical Center Tel Aviv, Israel MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Atypical ductal hyperplasia (ADH) is a known risk factor for breast cancer. The diagnosis is made by a biopsy showing a uniform proliferation of cells lining the ducts of the breast. These cells have monomorphic round nuclei and characteristically fill only part of the involved duct. Women diagnosed with ADH are recommended to undergo increased surveillance and offered chemoprevention (i.e. Tamoxifen) for risk reduction. Most studies reporting on the risk of subsequent breast cancer in women with ADH were done prior to the wide use of screening mammography and percutaneous needle biopsy. Our study examined 10-year risk of invasive breast cancer in women diagnosed with ADH (by needle biopsy or excisional biopsy), using data collected by the Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium (BCSC). (more…)
AACR, Author Interviews, Biomarkers, Breast Cancer / 15.09.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Eva Gonzalez Suarez, PhD Group Leader Transformation and Metastasis lab. Cancer Epigenetics and Biology Program-PEBC Institut d'Investigació Biomédica de Bellvitge-IDIBELL Hospital Duran i Reynals Avinguda Gran Via de l'Hospitalet, L'Hospitalet de Llobregat-Barcelona-Spain MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Thousands of cancer patients worldwide are taking RANKL inhibitors for the management of bone metastasis, based on the key role of RANKL and its receptor, RANK, driving osteoclastogenesis. RANK signaling pathway acts as a paracrine mediator of progesterone in mouse and human mammary epithelium. RANK expression is associated with poor prognosis in breast cancer even though its therapeutic potential remained unknown. Complementary genetic and pharmacological approaches demonstrate that therapeutic inhibition of RANK signaling drastically reduces the cancer stem cell pool, decreases tumor and metastasis initiation and enhances sensitivity to chemotherapy in mouse models that closely resemble the clinical disease. Mechanistically, genome wide expression analyses showed that anti-RANKL therapy promotes differentiation of tumor cells into milk-producing cells, as observed during pregnancy. (more…)
Author Interviews, NEJM, Prostate Cancer / 15.09.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Professor Jenny Donovan  PhD OBE FMedSci NIHR-SI AcSS FFPHM Director, NIHR CLAHRC West (National Institute for Health Research Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care West) at University Hospitals Bristol NHS Trust Bristol, UK MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: PSA testing identifies many men with prostate cancer, but they do not all benefit from treatment. Surgery, radiation therapy and various programs of active monitoring/surveillance can be given as treatments for fit men with clinically localized prostate cancer. Previous studies have not compared the most commonly used treatments in terms of mortality, disease progression and patient-reported outcomes. In the ProtecT study, we used a comprehensive set of validated measures, completed by the men at baseline (before diagnosis), at six and 12 months and then annually for six years. The main finding is that each treatment has a particular pattern of side-effects and recovery which needs to be balanced against the findings from the paper reporting the clinical outcomes (Hamdy et al). (more…)
ASCO, Author Interviews, Journal Clinical Oncology, MD Anderson, Ovarian Cancer / 14.09.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Larissa A. Meyer, MD MPH F.A.C.O.G. Assistant Professor Dept of Gynecologic Oncology and Reproductive Medicine Houston, TX 77030-1362 MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Despite the completion of two randomized controlled trials, controversy regarding the optimal approach for the treatment of advanced ovarian cancer remains. Our observational study highlights the importance of thoughtful selection of individuals for primary cytoreductive surgery for advanced ovarian cancer. Our results suggest that primary cytoreductive surgery may improve survival for patients with stage IIIC ovarian cancer who are likely to achieve an optimal cytoreduction, while neoadjuvant chemotherapy may be the preferred option for many women with stage IV ovarian cancer. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer, Cancer Research, OBGYNE, Pediatrics / 14.09.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Pooja Rao, MD, MSCE Assistant Professor Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Milton S. Hershey Medical Center Penn State College of Medicine MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Although many chemotherapy drugs can cause birth defects, no standardized guidelines exist for pregnancy screening in adolescent female patients with cancer. Additionally, little is known about how often they are screened prior to receiving treatment. Our study found that adolescent girls are not adequately screened for pregnancy prior to receiving chemotherapy or CT scans that could potentially harm a developing fetus. Adolescents with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, the most common childhood cancer, had the lowest pregnancy screening rates of the patients studied. (more…)
Author Interviews, Biomarkers, Lung Cancer, Personalized Medicine, University of Pennsylvania / 13.09.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Erica L. Carpenter, MBA, PhD Research Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine Director, Circulating Tumor Material Laboratory Division of Hematology/Oncology Abramson Cancer Center Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The advent of precision medicine practices for cancer patients, including the use of drugs that target specific tumor mutations, has necessitated improved diagnostics with real-time molecular monitoring of patients' tumor burden. While biopsy material, obtained surgically or through fine needle aspirate, can provide tissue for next generation sequencing (NGS) and mutation detection, this requires an invasive often painful procedure for the patient. In many cases, especially in more advanced disease when multiple metastases are present, such tissue cannot be obtained or can only be obtained from a single tumor site, thus limiting the sensitivity of tissue-based biopsy. Here we report on a prospective cohort of 102 consecutively enrolled patients with advanced non-small lung cancer (NSCLC) for whom a non-invasive liquid biopsy was used for real-time detection of therapeutically targetable mutations. Tissue samples were only obtainable for 50 of the 102 patients, and these tissue biopsies were analyzed using a 47-gene Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) panel at Penn's Center for Personalized Diagnostics. Concordance of results for the 50 patients who received both tests was close to 100% when the samples were obtained concurrently. (more…)
Author Interviews, Chemotherapy, Immunotherapy, Lung Cancer / 13.09.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Chih-Hsin Yang MD PhD Department of Oncology National Taiwan University Hospital MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: LUX-Lung 3 and LUX-Lung 6 are multicenter, randomized, open-label, Phase III trials of afatinib versus chemotherapy (pemetrexed / cisplatin and gemcitabine / cisplatin, respectively) as first-line treatment for patients with EGFR mutation-positive, advanced and metastatic non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Both trials met their primary endpoint of PFS with afatinib significantly delaying tumor growth when compared to standard chemotherapy. A post-hoc analysis of the studies was conducted to look at the incidence and severity of common adverse events (AEs) before and after afatinib dose reduction and the PFS was compared between patients who dose reduced within the first 6 months of treatment and those who did not. The results showed dose reductions were associated with decreases in the incidence and severity of treatment-related AEs, while median progression-free survival (PFS) was similar in patients who dose-reduced within the first six months of treatment versus those who did not (LUX-Lung 3, 11.3 vs 11 months; LUX-Lung 6, 12.3 vs 11 months). (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, Endocrinology, OBGYNE / 13.09.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Leena Hilakivi-Clarke, PhD Professor of Oncology Georgetown University Washington, DC 20057 MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: About 70% of women who develop breast cancer express estrogen receptors in their cancer. These patients are treated with endocrine therapies that target estrogen receptors. Endocrine therapies are effective in half of the patients, but the other half are resistant to the treatment and recur. Prior to the start of endocrine therapy, there is no way to predict who will respond to it and who will have recurrence of breast cancer. Therefore, it is not known which patients might benefit from an additional therapy to prevent recurrence, and what that additional therapy would entail. We wondered if resistance to endocrine therapy (we used tamoxifen) is pre-programmed by maternal exposure to the estrogenic endocrine disrupting chemical ethinyl estradiol (EE2). Previously, we and others have found that EE2 and other estrogenic compounds, when given during pregnancy, increase breast cancer risk in the female offspring in animal studies and among humans. The current study was done using a preclinical animal model that was used 50 years ago to discover that tamoxifen is an effective endocrine therapy for estrogen receptor positive breast cancer patients. (more…)
Author Interviews, Biomarkers, Cancer Research, Lung Cancer / 11.09.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Karen L. Reckamp, M.D. Associate Professor City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center Duarte, CA 91010 MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: • Approximately 60% of patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) receiving EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) will develop TKI resistance through the acquisition of the EGFR T790M mutation. • A major challenge for assessing EGFR mutation status in advanced NSCLC is the availability of suitable biopsy tissue for molecular testing, specifically for determination of the emergence of T790M following progression on initial EGFR TKI therapy. • The objective of this study was to demonstrate that a highly sensitive and quantitative next-generation sequencing analysis of EGFR mutations is feasible from urine and plasma, providing comparable clinical information while potentially mitigating the issues associated with tissue biopsies. • This blinded, retrospective study was conducted on matched tissue, urine and plasma specimens collected from 63 patients with Stage IIIB-IV NSCLC enrolled in the TIGER-X trial of rociletinib, an investigational 3rd generation tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI), targeting T790M. (more…)
Author Interviews, Nature, Pancreatic / 09.09.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Armando E. del Río Hernández, PhD European Research Council Fellow Head, Cellular and Molecular Biomechanics Laboratory http://biomechanicalregulation-lab.org/ Senior Lecturer, Department of Bioengineering Imperial College London MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Pancreatic cancer is an extremely aggressive disease with an unacceptably low survival rate that has not changed during the last 40 years despite significant efforts aimed at developing therapies against cancer cells. Pancreatic cancer is characterised by an extensive desmoplasia, which forms the majority of the tissue around the tumour. This desmoplastic tissue is known to help the tumour to grow and metastasize, and hinders drug delivery. We have focused our efforts on understanding how pancreatic stellate cells (PSCs), which are the key effectors that orchestrate the desmoplastic reaction in pancreatic cancer, can promote tumour progression. PSCs in healthy pancreas have abundant vitamin A storage in their cytoplasm and exist in a quiescent state that guarantees a balanced tissue homeostasis. In pancreatic cancer, loss of this balance activates PSCs, which lose the vitamin A content and remodel the surrounding tissue to make it favourable for cancer cell invasion. We found that treating PSCs which ATRA (All trans-retinoic acid), the active metabolite of vitamin A mechanically reprograms PSCs to promote quiescence in vitro. Quiescent PSCs are unable to remodel the microenvironment to allow pancreatic cancer cell invasion. To get more information about our findings please find the article in the open access journal Nature Communications:http://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms12630 (more…)
Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Cancer Research, Colon Cancer, End of Life Care, Lung Cancer / 09.09.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Joseph A. Greer, Ph.D. Program Director, Center for Psychiatric Oncology & Behavioral Sciences Associate Director, Cancer Outcomes Research Program, Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center Yawkey Center, Boston, MA 02114 MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Many patients with advanced cancer have a high symptom burden, increased depression symptoms, misperceptions about their prognosis, and difficulties in making decisions about care at the end of life. To address these challenges and improve care for this vulnerable population, our research team initially conducted a small, single-group pilot study of early palliative care integrated with standard oncology care for patients with advanced lung cancer. This study showed that the model of integrated care was feasible and acceptable to patients and their families. Specifically, the majority of patients in the study were able to meet with a palliative care clinician at least monthly from the time of diagnosis of metastatic lung cancer, in order to receive help with managing symptoms as well as support for coping with the disease and making decisions about treatment. We then conducted a follow-up randomized controlled trial of early, integrated palliative care in a sample of approximately 150 patients with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer. This study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2010 and showed that those patients who received early palliative care reported significantly improved quality of life, mood, prognostic awareness, and end-of-life care compared to those who received standard oncology care alone. To confirm the findings of our prior research and to determine whether the benefits of early integrated palliative care would apply to a larger sample of patients with diverse malignancies, we recently completed another randomized trial of this same model of care in a sample of 350 patients with incurable lung and gastrointestinal cancers. In this trial, we observed that patients who received the early palliative care intervention reported higher quality of life and improved mood by 24 weeks but not at the primary end-point of 12 weeks. Our team was surprised to find that the trajectory of quality of life and depression symptoms over time was different for individuals with incurable lung versus gastrointestinal cancers in this study. As expected, the palliative care intervention positively buffered the decline in quality of life by 12 weeks for patients with incurable lung cancer, as we had seen in our prior trial. However, the group of patients with gastrointestinal cancers reported an improvement in their quality of life by the 12-week time point regardless of whether they received the palliative care intervention. We are still exploring possible reasons for this difference, such as whether changes in cancer therapy may have reduced symptoms and improved quality of life in the group of patients with gastrointestinal cancer. In addition, we were pleased to learn that the early integrated palliative care intervention led to improvements in how patients cope with their illness. For example, compared to patients in the usual oncology care group, those who received early, integrated palliative care were more likely to learn ways to accept their diagnosis and to take positive actions to make their lives better. So, in addition to treating patients’ symptoms, the palliative care clinicians in this study were bolstering people’s adaptive coping skills. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research / 09.09.2016

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Professor David Adelson PhD Chair of Bioinformatics The University of Adelaide MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Chinese Medicine has been used for thousands of years to treat a number of diseases, but with few exceptions, has not been linked to specific molecular mechanisms that might explain its mode of action. This is because the Chinese Medicine formulations are often combinations of multiple plant extracts and are thus complex molecular mixtures. Fractionation of these extracts to test individual components often demonstrates low or no activity for individual components of these mixtures. We decided to use a Systems Biology approach to investigate a well characterized, injectable extract from two plants that has been commonly used in conjunction with Western chemotherapy to treat cancer patients in China. We do not fractionate the mixture, but test it “as is” in order to determine the molecular consequences of the complex mixture. We limited this study to a specific breast cancer cell line (MCF-7) in order to determine if this preparation, Compound Kushen Injection (CKI), can directly affect cancer cells. We found that CKI can kill MCF-7 cells and can also alter gene expression patterns associated with cell cycle control and cell death. The gene expression networks/pathways altered by CKI are similar to those altered by the Western chemotherapeutic drug 5-Fluorouracil (5FU), but the specific genes in those pathways with expression altered by CKI are often different to those affected by 5FU. (more…)