Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, Cancer, Genetic Research / 07.12.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Jane E. Churpek, MD Assistant Professor of Medicine Co-Director, Comprehensive Cancer Risk and Prevention Program The University of Chicago Medicine Chicago, IL 6063 Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Churpek:   We designed this study to try to understand whether damaging, inherited changes in genes known to cause an increased risk of breast cancer are common in those who develop leukemia after getting chemotherapy and/or radiation for treatment of breast cancer. Leukemias that occur in this setting are called “therapy-related.” This means that chemotherapy or radiation, or both, may have been involved in causing the leukemia.  This is an uncommon but serious complication of cancer treatment, and the factors that put women at risk for this complication are not well understood. We looked at the clinical histories of 88 such women. We found that most of them have relatives who also had cancer, suggesting they may be cancer-prone to begin with. Because we did not have a group of women who had similar breast cancer treatment and who did not get a therapy-related leukemia, we cannot definitively prove that more women with therapy-related leukemia than expected had these mutations. However, this study gives us reason to further study the role of these genes in therapy-related leukemia. (more…)
Author Interviews, Colon Cancer, Cost of Health Care, Health Care Systems, Outcomes & Safety, Surgical Research / 06.12.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Johannes Govaert MD Department of Surgery Leiden University Medical Center Leiden, The Netherlands Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Govaert: The Value Based Health Care agenda ofPprof. Porter (Harvard Business School) suggests that focus in healthcare should shift from reducing costs to improving quality: where quality of healthcare improves, cost reduction will follow. One of the cornerstones of potential cost reduction, as mentioned by Porter, could be availability of key clinical data on processes and outcomes of care. Despite the important societal and economical role the healthcare system fulfils, it still lags behind when it comes to standardised reporting processes. With the introduction of the Dutch Surgical Colorectal Audit (DSCA) in 2009, robust quality information became available enabling monitoring, evaluation and improvement of surgical colorectal cancer care in the Netherlands. Since the introduction of the DSCA postoperative morbidity and mortality declined. Primary aim of this study was to investigate whether improving quality of surgical colorectal cancer care, by using a national quality improvement initiative, leads to a reduction of hospital costs. Detailed clinical data was obtained from the 2010-2012 population-based Dutch Surgical Colorectal Audit. Costs at patient-level were measured uniformly in all 29 participating hospitals and based on Time-Driven Activity-Based Costing. Medical Research: What are the main findings? Dr. Govaert: Over three consecutive years (2010-2012) severe complications and mortality after colorectal cancer surgery respectively declined with 20% and 29%. Simultaneously, costs during primary admission decreased with 9% without increase in costs within the first 90 days after discharge. Moreover, an inverse relationship (at hospital level) between severe complication rate and hospital costs was identified among the 29 participating hospitals. Hospitals with increasing severe complication rates (between 2010 and 2012) were associated with increasing costs whereas hospitals with declining severe complication rates were associated with cost reduction. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Cleveland Clinic, Heart Disease / 05.12.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Sadeer G Al-Kindi, MD Fellow, Harrington Heart and Vascular Institute Onco-Cardiology Program, Advanced Heart Failure and Transplant Center, Harrington Heart and Vascular Institute, University Hospitals Case Medical Center Cleveland, OH Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Al-Kindi: Cardiovascular disease and cancer are the most common causes of death in the United States. They often have the same risk factors (for example, smoking, advancing age, obesity). Many cancers are treated with drugs that can have detrimental effect on the heart thus limiting their use. Some studies have suggested that cardiovascular diseases can worsen outcomes in patients with cancer. The emergence of onco-cardiology programs led to multidisciplinary care of patients with cancer and heart disease. Given this tight relationship between cancers and cardiovascular disease, we hypothesized that heart disease and its risk factors are very common in patients diagnosed with cancer. Medical Research: What are the main findings? Dr. Al-Kindi: Using a very large clinical database of 1/8th of the US population, we identified patients with most common cancers that are treated with cardiotoxic medications and identified the prevalence of cardiovascular diseases. Overall, prevalence was 33% for hematologic malignancies (leukemia and lymphoma), 43% for lung cancers, 17% for breast cancers, 26% for colon cancers, 35% for renal cancers, and 26% for head and neck cancers. Peripheral artery disease, coronary artery disease and cerebrovascular diseases were the most common, followed by heart failure, and carotid artery disease. Despite the high prevalence, only about a half of these patients were on the cardiovascular medicines and half were referred to cardiologists. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Mental Health Research / 05.12.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Jamie Stagl, PhD Was a Ph.D. student in Psychology at University of Miami during the research period Currently, a post-doctoral fellow in Psychiatric Oncology Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center in Boston Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Stagl: This is a newly published finding from a randomized trial funded by the National Cancer Institute that showed that women with breast cancer who received stress management skills early on in their treatment had longer survival and longer time without breast cancer recurrence at eight to 15 years after their initial diagnosis. This secondary analysis is published online and in the November 2015 issue of Breast Cancer Research and Treatment. The study was conducted by senior investigator, Michael Antoni, Ph.D., Survivorship Theme Leader of the Cancer Control research program at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, and his research team, including lead author Jamie Stagl, Ph.D., currently a postdoctoral fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center in Psychiatric Oncology and Behavioral Sciences. In this trial, women received an intervention called Cognitive-Behavioral Stress Management, which was created by Dr. Michael Antoni at the University of Miami. After surgery for breast cancer, women received 10 weekly, group-based sessions of skills to manage stress based in cognitive-behavioral strategies and relaxation training. Women learned muscle relaxation, mindfulness meditation, and breathing exercises to promote relaxation. Women also learned strategies for altering negative thoughts, worries, and improve coping. Previous studies by Dr. Antoni and his research team have shown that women who received these stress management skills had better psychological adjustment, less distress, and less anxiety through treatment. Dr. Stagl recently published findings showing that these women had less depressive symptoms and better quality of life during survivorship. The current study shows that these women may also benefit from stress management in terms of risk of disease progression and mortality. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, Lancet, Mammograms, Radiology / 05.12.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Prof Stephen Duffy BSc MSc CStat Professor Of Cancer Screening Wolfson Institute Of Preventive Medicine Queen Mary University of London Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Prof. Duffy: There is debate on the value of diagnosing and treating ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) of the breast, depending mainly on different theories about the risk of progression to invasive breast cancer if DCIS were untreated. No-one asserts that no DCIS is progressive and no-one asserts that all DCIS is progressive. There is, however, a range of opinions on the proportion of progressive disease. We found that those mammography screening units in the UK with higher detection rates of DCIS had lower subsequent rates of invasive cancers in the three years after screening. (more…)
Author Interviews, Beth Israel Deaconess, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, CT Scanning, Gender Differences, Lung Cancer / 04.12.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Phillip Boiselle, M.D. Staff, Cardiothoracic Imaging Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Associate Dean for Academic and Clinical Affairs Professor of Radiology, Harvard Medical School Boston, Mass Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Boiselle: Previous studies have shown that women have a greater mortality benefit from lung cancer screening then men, and that this test (CT screening) is more cost-effective for women than men. Our purpose was to determine whether the relative risk of lung cancer for women and men differed depending on the specific type of lung nodule that was discovered at screening. Such differences could potentially help to influence a more personalized approach to patient management in lung cancer screening. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, Depression, JNCI, Kaiser Permanente / 03.12.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Reina Haque, PhD, MPH Research scientist Department of Research & Evaluation Kaiser Permanente Southern California Pasadena Calif Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Haque: Tamoxifen is a commonly prescribed generic drug taken by women with breast cancer to reduce their chances of developing a recurrence. Tamoxifen is recommended for five years, but has notable side effects, including hot flashes, night sweats and depression. Since hormone replacement therapy is not recommended to alleviate these symptoms in breast-cancer survivors, antidepressants have been increasingly prescribed for relief. Almost half of the 2.4 million breast-cancer survivors in the U.S. take antidepressants. However, previous studies have suggested that antidepressants reduce tamoxifen's effectiveness in lowering subsequent breast-cancer risk. This study was conducted to determine whether taking tamoxifen and antidepressants (in particular, paroxetine) concomitantly is associated with an increased risk of recurrence or contralateral breast cancer. (more…)
ASCO, Author Interviews, Immunotherapy, Ovarian Cancer / 02.12.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Junzo Hamanishi  M.D., Ph.D. Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine Assistant Professor Kyoto Japan Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Hamanishi: More than 70% of patients with advanced ovarian cancer who achieve remission ultimately relapse and there are few effective treatments for these patients. Because the development of new treatment strategies for these patients is urgently required, we have focused on and studied the potential of cancer cells to escape from host immunity with PD-1/PD-L1 immunosuppressive signal in the tumor microenvironment to find new treatment strategies to overcome this phenomenon, collaborating with Professor Honjo who discovered PD-1 since 2006. Therefore, we conducted a phase II clinical trial in 20 platinum-resistant, recurrent ovarian cancer patients to evaluate the safety and anti-tumor efficacy of anti-PD-1 antibody (nivolumab) with 2 cohort at a dose of 1 or 3 mg/kg (constituting two 10-patient cohorts). Medical Research: What are the main findings? Dr. Hamanishi: This study is the first investigator-initiated phase II clinical trial testing the safety and efficacy of nivolumab against platinum-resistant ovarian cancer. In the 20 patients in whom responses could be evaluated, the best overall response was 15%, including two patients with a durable complete response (3mg/kg cohort). The disease control rate in all 20 patients was 45%. The median progression-free survival was 3.5 months, with a median overall survival of 20.0 months. Especially in the 3 mg/kg cohort, two patients achieved a complete response, and disease stabilized in another two patients. The objective response rate in 3mg/kg cohort cohort was 20% and disease was controlled in 40% of the higher-dose group. In the four patients who demonstrated an antitumor response, responses were durable and evident. Grade 3 or 4 treatment-related adverse events (AE) occurred in eight out of 20 patients or 40% overall. However, the frequency of AEs were not different in 2 cohorts. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, Journal Clinical Oncology, MRI, Yale / 02.12.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Shiyi Wang, MD, PhD Assistant Professor of Epidemiology (Chronic Diseases) Yale School of Public Health Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Wang: As magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the breast has become part of medical care, there is increasing concern that this highly sensitive test might identify health problems that otherwise would not have had an impact on the patient – so called “overdiagnosis”. However, even if MRI use leads to overdiagnosis, the main “theoretical” benefit of early detection by MRI is to prevent future advanced diseases, the prognosis of which is deleterious. A systematic literature review found that, compared to mammography and/or ultrasound, MRI had a 4.1% incremental contralateral breast cancer (breast cancer in the opposite breast) detection rate. At this point, the impact of MRI on long-term contralateral breast cancer outcomes remains unclear.  Medical Research: What are the main findings? Dr. Wang: Analyzing the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results-Medicare dataset, we compared two groups of women who had breast cancer (one group receiving an MRI, and the other not) in terms of stage-specific contralateral breast cancer occurrences. We found that after five years, the MRI group had a higher detection rate of cancer in the opposite breast than the non-MRI group (7.2 % vs. 4.0%). Specifically, MRI use approximately doubles the detection rate of early stage contralateral breast cancer, but does not decrease the incidence of advanced stage contralateral breast cancer occurrences after a 5-year follow-up. Our results indicate that nearly half of additional breast cancers detected by the preoperative MRI were overdiagnosed, which means that many of these occult cancers not detected by MRI would not have become clinically evident over the subsequent 5 years. There was no evidence that MRI use was benefiting women because the rate of advanced cancer was similar in the MRI and the non-MRI groups. (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Lung Cancer, Radiation Therapy / 02.12.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Benjamin Movsas, MD Chairman of Radiation Oncology Henry Ford Hospital Detroit, Michigan  Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Movsas: The background is that a recent randomized lung cancer trial (RTOG 0617) showed a lower (rather than a higher) survival among the patients who received a higher dose of radiation (RT).  This unexpected finding was puzzling as there were few differences in toxicity between the radiation dose arms noted by health care providers. The main finding of the quality of life (QOL) analysis was that there was indeed a large difference in QOL as reported by the patients themselves (with lower QOL on the high RT dose arm at 3 months).  Moreover, while this study was not randomized for RT technique, about half of the patients received intensity modulated RT (IMRT), a more sophisticated approach than the alternative (3D conformal RT), which can better protect normal tissues.  Despite the fact that patients with larger tumors received IMRT, their self reported QOL one year later was significantly better (ie, much less decline in QOL) relative to patients who received 3D conformal RT.  Finally, higher QOL at baseline significantly predicated for better survival. (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Prostate Cancer, Radiation Therapy / 30.11.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Prof Nicholas James STAMPEDE Trial Chief Investigator Director of the Cancer Research Centre Warwick Medical School University of Warwick Coventry and Professor of Clinical Oncology Cancer Centre, Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. James: The STAMPEDE trial is a multi-arm, multi-stage trials platform testing a range of different therapies in addition to standard of care (SOC) for men commencing long term androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) for newly diagnosed locally advanced or metastatic prostate cancer. These data from the control arm form part of a pair of publications detailing outcomes in the control arm of STAMPEDE and help to make sense of the forthcoming paper on the randomised comparisons currently in press at the Lancet. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Melanoma / 30.11.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Ze'ev Ronai, PhD Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Ronai: We have been studying the parent compound for some time and have performed a series of complementing assays to identify mechanisms underlying the activity of this compound as well as to determine the primary target for this small molecule. These included gene expression changes, mutations in tumor cells that became resistant to the drug and also direct association with cellular proteins.

The main finding is that sbi-756 is a potent compound which can be used to overcome couple of the utmost clinical unmet needs today, namely, resistance of melanoma to currently used inhibitors in the clinic (i.e. vemurafenieb) and use in tumors that are braf negative (to which we lack specific therapies today)

The use of drugs that can tamper with the translation initiation complex to the degree sufficient to affect tumors but not normal cells, as reflected in the lack of toxicity seen with sbi-756 offers important advance in our quest for novel therapeutic modalities that address unmet clinical needs. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, JAMA, Surgical Research / 28.11.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Katharine Yao, MD Director, Breast Surgical Program NorthShore University HealthSystem Illinois Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Yao: A survey of breast surgeons was conducted to determine their knowledge level with contralateral breast cancer and how contralateral prophylactic mastectomy (CPM) affects survival.  Of five knowledge questions, only 60% scored with high knowledge (4 or 5 questions correct) scores.   Surgeons mostly scored low on contralateral cancer risks.  Most surgeons correctly stated that contralateral prophylactic mastectomy  does not provide a survival benefit.  Nonetheless, our knowledge questions did not address other important issues about CPM such as operative complications, or contralateral breast cancer risks for other high risk subgroups.  Higher knowledge was associated with fellowship training and duration of practice. (more…)
Author Interviews, Prostate, Prostate Cancer, Urology / 26.11.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Isaac Yi Kim, MD, PhD Acting Chief and Associate Professor, Division of Urology Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School Chief, Section of Urologic Oncology and Young Suk "Joseph" Kwon, MD Post-doctoral fellow  Section of Urologic Oncology Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey New Brunswick, NJ 08903 Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Response: Although PSA < 10 ng/mL is a typically required condition under which many active surveillance (AS) protocols operate, this current guideline may predispose lower risk patients with incongruently elevated PSA to aggressive and potentially unnecessary therapies. Specifically, urologists infrequently encounter patients with PSA > 10 ng/ml but biopsy demonstrating a relatively lower risk prostate cancer (PCa). Therefore, we wanted to test whether active surveillance may be a viable option in some men with a histologically favorable risk prostate cancer and serum PSA between 10 and 20 ng/ml. Medical Research: What are the main findings? Response: We compared oncologic outcomes in men with favorable biopsy histology and varying PSA levels: low, intermediate, and high PSA levels. The rates of upstaging and upgrading were similar between the intermediate PSA (IP) (≥10 and 20) and low PSA (LP) (<10) group. In contrast, the high PSA  (HP) (≥20) group had higher incidences of both upstaging (p=0.02) and upgrading to ≥4+3 (p=0.046) compared to the IP group. BCR-free survival rates revealed no pair-wise inter-group differences, except between low PSA and high PSA . (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Cost of Health Care / 25.11.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Xuesong Han, PhD Director, Surveillance and Health Services Research American Cancer Society, Inc. Atlanta, GA 3030 Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Han: People with private insurance are more likely to be screened and more likely to be diagnosed at an early stage of cancer. An early provision of the Affordable Care Act implemented in September 2010 allows young adults to remain on their parents’ health insurance plan until age 26 years, following which there has been an increase in private insurance coverage among young adults aged 19-25 years. For young adults, the uterine cervix is the only cancer site for which screening is recommended with a starting age of 21 years, and diagnosis of cervical cancer at early stages allows use of fertility-sparing treatment. Using data before and after the dependent coverage expansion provision of ACA, we found that compared with 26-34 year-olds who were not affected by the policy change, women 21-25 years of age experienced a net increase of 9 percentage points in early stage disease and 11.9 percentage points in receipt of fertility-sparing treatment. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, Nature / 23.11.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Paul K Newton PhD Professor of Aerospace & Mechanical Engineering, Mathematics, and Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center USC Viterbi University of Southern California University Park Campus Los Angeles, CA  90089-4012  Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Newton: We obtained a longitudinal data set of 446 breast cancer patients from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, tracked from 1975 to 2009. All of the patients had primary breast cancer at the time they entered, with no metastatic tumors. All subsequently developed metastatic breast cancer. From this time-resolved data set, we first developed what we called tree-ring diagrams showing the full spatiotemporal patterns of progression. We then used this information to develop a Markov chain dynamical model of metastatic breast cancer. This is a model based on the concept that where the disease currently is located strongly influences where it will spread next. The systemic nature of metastatic breast cancer is clearly shown in these kinds of network based models. The main findings are that survival depends very strongly on where the first metastatic tumor develops. For example, if the first metastatic tumor appears in the bone, as happens in roughly 35% of the patients, survival is much better than if it appears in the brain (less than 5% of the patients). Furthermore, for those patients with a first met to the bone, survival is far better for those who develop their next met in the lung area, as compared with those that develop it in the liver. Metastatic sites are categorized as `spreader’ sites, or `sponge’ sites. Bone and chest wall are generally the primary spreader sites of metastatic breast cancer, dynamically involved in spreading the disease throughout the metastatic process. On the other hand, liver seems to be a key sponge site, where circulating tumor cells most likely accumulate. If one were to focus on an active therapeutic program targeting metastatic sites, most likely the spreader sites would give the most bang-for-buck in terms of survival. (more…)
Author Interviews, Pancreatic / 20.11.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Prof. Dr. Véronique Orian-Rousseau Group Leader Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (KIT) Institut für Toxikologie und Genetik (ITG) Campus Nord Karlsruhe Germany Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Our group is working on the role of cell adhesion molecules in development and in tumor progression and metastasis. One protein in focus is CD44, a molecule that controls proliferation, differentiation and survival of cells. We have shown that one member of this family, namely CD44v6 acts as a co-receptor for receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) such as MET and VEGFR-2. CD44v6 has a dual function. It controls both the activation and signaling from the RTKs. We have identified a sequence in CD44v6 that is crucial for its function as a co-receptor. From this sequence we made a peptide that inhibits MET and VEGFR2 activation and signaling. The CD44v6 peptide was used in several independent mouse models of pancreatic cancer including the transgenic PDAC mouse model. It could inhibit the growth of the primary tumor, metastasis and in addition could eliminate already established metastases. In addition, we could show that MET and CD44v6 expression correlates with poor prognosis and metastasis in a cohort of pancreatic cancer patients. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Fertility, OBGYNE, Technology / 19.11.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Kutluk Oktay, MD, PhD. Professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Medicine, and Cell Biology & Anatomy Director, Division of Reproductive Medicine & Institute for Fertility Preservation Innovation Institute for Fertility and In Vitro Fertilization New York Medical College, Valhalla, NY Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Oktay: Cancer treatments cause infertility and early menopause in a growing number of young women around the world and US. One of the strategies to preserve fertility, which was developed by our team, is to cryopreserve ovarian tissue before chemotherapy and later transplant it back to the patient when they are cured of the cancer and ready to have children. However, success of ovarian transplantation has been limited due to limitation in blood flow to grafts. In this study we described a new approach which seems to improve graft function. The utility of an extracellular tissue matrix and robotic surgery seems to enhance graft function. With this approach both patients conceived with frozen embryos to spare and one has already delivered. (more…)
Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, JAMA, Pancreatic, Race/Ethnic Diversity, Surgical Research / 18.11.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Jason S. Gold MD FACS Chief of Surgical Oncology, VA Boston Healthcare System Assistant Professor of Surgery, Harvard Medical School Brigham and Women’s Hospital Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Gold: Pancreas cancer is a lethal disease. While advances in the best available care for pancreas cancer are desperately needed, improvements can be made in addressing disparities in care. This study aimed to evaluate associations of social and demographic variables with the utilization of surgical resection as well as with survival after surgical resection for early-stage pancreas cancer. Medical Research: What are the main findings? Dr. Gold: The main findings are the following: 1:     We found that less than half of patients with early-stage pancreas cancer undergo resection in the United States. Interestingly, the rate of resection has not changed with time during the eight-year study period. 2.  We also found significant disparities associated with the utilization of surgical resection for early-stage pancreas cancer in the United States. African American patients, Hispanic patients, single patients, and uninsured patients were significantly less likely to have their tumors removed. There were regional variations in the utilization of surgical resection as well. Patients in the Southeast were significantly less likely to have a pancreas resection for cancer compared to patients in the Northeast. 3. Among the patients who underwent surgical resection for early-stage pancreas cancer, we did not see significant independent associations with survival for most of the social and demographic variables analyzed. Surprisingly, however, patients from the Southeast had worse long-term survival after pancreas cancer resection compared to those in other regions of the United States even after adjusting for other variables. (more…)
AACR, Author Interviews, CDC, Colon Cancer, Race/Ethnic Diversity / 18.11.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Hannah K. Weir, PhD, MSc Senior Epidemiologist CDC Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Weir: Colorectal cancer (CRC) is one of the leading causes of cancer related deaths in the United States. We know that the risk of dying from colorectal cancer  is not the same across all communities – people living in poorer communities have a higher risk of dying from colorectal cancer than people living in wealthier, better educated communities. In this study, we estimated the number of potentially avoidable CRC deaths between 2008 and 2012 in poorer communities.  Then we estimated the value of lost productivity that resulted from these deaths. Lost productivity includes the value of future lost salaries, wages, and the value to household activities such as cooking, cleaning, and child care. We focused on the age group 50 to 74 years because this is the age group where routine CRC screening is recommended. We estimated that more than 14,000 CRC deaths in poorer communities could have been avoided and that these CRC deaths resulted in a nearly $6.5 billion dollars loss in productivity. This is tragic - for the person who died, their family and for their community. This loss in productivity contributes to the economic burden of these already disadvantaged communities. (more…)
Author Interviews, Ovarian Cancer, Technology / 18.11.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Professor John McDonald PhD Director of its Integrated Cancer Research Center School of Biology at the Georgia Institute of Technology Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Ovarian cancer is a deadly disease because it cannot be diagnosed at early stages when it can be most effectively effectively treated. It has long been recognized that there is a great need for an accurate diagnostic test for early stage ovarian cancer. Until now, efforts to develop a highly accurate way to detect early stage ovarian cancer have been unsuccessful. We have used a novel approach that integrates advanced methods in analytical chemistry with advanced machine learning algorithms to identify 16 metabolites that collectively can detect ovarian cancer with extremely high accuracy (100% in the samples tested in our study) (more…)
AACR, Author Interviews, Duke, Immunotherapy / 14.11.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Jiayuh Lin, Ph.D. Associate Professor, College of Medicine, The Ohio State University Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Jiayuh Lin: Pancreatic cancer is one of the most serious forms of cancer.  Because of the poor response to chemotherapy as conventionally used, patients with any stage of pancreatic cancer may appropriately be considered candidates for clinical trials using novel agents. IL-6 signaling plays an important role in oncogenesis and high serum IL-6 levels is a poor prognostic factor for overall survival in pancreatic cancer. Therefore, IL-6 is considered as a viable target for pancreatic cancer therapy.  We utilized a drug discovery method with Multiple Ligand Simultaneous Docking and drug repositioning to identify an existing FDA-approved drug Bazedoxifene with previously unknown biological function as an IL-6/GP130 inhibitor.  Bazedoxifene can inhibit cell viability of pancreatic cancer cells expressing IL-6 and suppressed pancreatic tumor growth in vivo. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Genetic Research, JAMA / 14.11.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Samuel Klempner, M.D. Assistant Professor Division of Hematology/Oncology UC Irvine Health Orange, CA 92868  Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Klempner: The background for our series is the concept that little is known about the genetic landscape of rare tumors such as acinic cell tumors, and that understanding genetic changes in tumors can identify treatment options.  This paradigm can, and should, be extended beyond rare tumor types and many researchers are currently studying various tumor types.  Another important background idea is that tumor genomic alterations may be more important than that anatomic site of origin. For example, I would argue that a breast cancer that harbors an EGFR mutation common to lung cancer could be treated similar to a lung cancer based on the genomic changes. In our study we found another way that the BRAF protein and its downstream signaling may become activated through duplicating part of the protein called the kinase domain.  This genetic event causes the pathway to be always "on" which is not normal, and likely drives cancer growth.  However, BRAF kinase domain duplication appears sensitive to currently available drugs that target the BRAF pathway, as evidenced by the response in our patient.  Thus, finding this change is important and may be able to guide a more personalized therapy choice.  Importantly, we found BRAF kinase domain duplication across multiple different tumor types, suggesting this may be a recurrent event in some cancers.  A very similar finding, involving duplication of the EGFR kinase domain, was also just reported (Cancer Discovery 2015;5:1155-1163) lending further validation to this mechanism of pathway activation in cancer. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, Chemotherapy, MRI / 14.11.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Franca Podo, Dr Sci Former Director of the Molecular and Cellular Imaging Unit Department of Cell Biology and Neurosciences Istituto Superiore di Sanità Rome, Italy Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Podo: Population-based studies showed that triple negative breast cancers (TNBCs), i.e. those which are negative for estrogen and progesterone receptors without HER-2/neu overexpression, have a more aggressive clinical course and a 2-to-3 fold higher likelihood of distant recurrence and death from breast cancer within 5 years from diagnosis, compared with non-TNBCs. In a study published in Clinical Cancer Research (Online First 26 October 2015) Dr. F. Podo and Dr. F. Santoro (Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Rome) and Prof. F. Sardanelli (Università degli Studi di Milano, IRCCS Policlinico San Donato) in collaboration with other Italian co-authors, compared phenotype features and survival rates of invasive TNBCs versus non-TNBCs detected during the HIBCRIT-1 screening study of 501 asymptomatic women at high genetic-familial risk for breast cancer. The screening included BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation carriers, as well as women with a strong family history of breast and/or ovarian cancer, enrolled between 2000 and 2008 in 18 centers. Data analysis from a median 9.7-year follow-up until June 2015 showed that, combining an annual screening including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) with adequate treatment options, the mean 5-year overall survival of triple negative breast cancers was not significantly different from that of non-TNBCs (86% vs 93%), in spite of a 3-fold higher rate of cases of grade 3 invasive ductal carcinoma in the former subgroup (71% in TNBCs vs 23% in non-TNBCs). The mean disease-free survival rates were also very similar (77% vs 76%, respectively). (more…)
AACR, Author Interviews, NIH, Nutrition, Ovarian Cancer, Race/Ethnic Diversity / 13.11.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Bo (Bonnie) Qin, PhD Postdoctoral associate at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response:  Ovarian cancer is among the top five causes of cancer death among women in the US. Compared to white women, African-American women tend to have a worse 5-year survival rate of ovarian cancer. It highlights a critical need for identifying preventive factors in African Americans, particularly through dietary modification, which is relatively low cost and low risk compared to medical treatments. We found that adherence to an overall healthy dietary pattern i.e. Alternate Healthy Eating Index (AHEI)-2010 may reduce ovarian cancer risk in African-American women, and particularly among postmenopausal women. Adherence to the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans i.e. Healthy Eating Index-2010, were also strongly associated with reduced risk of ovarian cancer among postmenopausal African-American women. (more…)
Author Interviews, Dermatology, Melanoma, NEJM, UCSF / 13.11.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Boris C. Bastian, MD, PhD Professor of Dermatology and Pathology Gerson and Barbara Bass Bakar Distinguished Professor in Cancer Research University of California, San Francisco Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Bastian:  The cost of DNA sequencing has dropped substantially since the initial sequencing of the human genome in 2001. As a result, the most common cancer subtypes have now been sequenced, revealing the pathogenic mutations that drive them. A typical cancer is driven by 5-10 mutations, but we still do not understand the order in which these mutations occur for most cancers. Determining the order in which mutations occur is challenging for cancers that are detected at a late stage. Melanomas, however, lend themselves to this type of analysis because they are pigmented and found on the surface of the skin, allowing them to be identified early. Sometimes, melanomas are even found adjacent to their remnant precursor neoplasms, such as benign nevi (also known as common moles). We performed detailed genetic analyses of 37 cases of melanomas that were adjacent to their intact precursor neoplasms. We microdissected and sequenced the surrounding uninvolved normal tissue, the precursor neoplasm, and the descendent neoplasm. By comparing the genetic abnormalities in each of the microdissected areas, we were able to decipher the order of genetic alterations for each case. Our work reveals the stereotypic pattern of mutations as they occur in melanoma. Mutations in the MAPK pathway, usually affecting BRAF or NRAS, occur earliest, followed by TERT promoter mutations, then CDKN2Aalterations, and finally TP53 and PTEN alterations. Benign nevi typically harbor a single pathogenic alteration, whereas fully evolved melanomas harbor three or more pathogenic alterations. We also identified an intermediate stage of neoplasia with some but not all of the pathogenic mutations required for fully evolved melanoma. There has been a longstanding debate whether morphologically intermediate lesions, such as dysplastic nevi, truly constitute biological intermediates or whether they simply represent a gray zone of histopathological assessment. Our data indicates that these neoplasms are genuine biological entities. Finally, we observe evidence of UV-radiation-induced DNA damage at all stages of pathogenesis, implicating UV radiation in both the initiation and progression of melanoma. (more…)
AACR, Author Interviews, Lymphoma, MD Anderson / 12.11.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Jatin J. Shah, MD Associate Professor, Department of Lymphoma/Myeloma Assistant Professor, Lymphoma/Myeloma Division of Cancer Medicine The University of Texas, MD Anderson Cancer Center Houston, TX  Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Shah: The ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS) is one of the key regulatory systems in our body’s cells. It controls the destruction of the majority of cellular proteins, which can be involved in making cells grow, expand, or die, among other functions. Defects in the UPS can result in a number of diseases, including cancer, for example by destroying too quickly the proteins that cause cells to die. The UPS has already been shown to be a rational target for cancer therapy: the approved drugs bortezomib and carfilzomib inhibit the proteasome itself, thus causing cancer cells to die. However, by completely blocking the proteasome, which is at the ‘end’ of the UPS, these drugs block the destruction of 100% of proteins, and can cause side effects. By contrast, blocking the NEDD8-activating enzyme (NAE) stops the cellular processes that are responsible for only approximately 20% of proteins being degraded by the UPS – including proteins of relevance to cancer development. Previous studies of pevonedistat in animals have shown that inhibiting NAE alters the ability of a cancer cell to repair its DNA after it is damaged; this leads to the death of cancer cells. The man finding is this was the first reported study of pevonedistat in patients with multiple myeloma or lymphoma. It demonstrated that pevonedistat hits its target in cancer cells, exerted anticipated pharmacodynamic effects, and has modest activity as a single-agent in heavily pretreated patients with relapsed/refractory lymphoma. (more…)
Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Cancer Research, PNAS / 12.11.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Lei Xu, MD, PhD Steele Laboratory of Tumor Biology Radiation Oncology Department Massachusetts General Hospital Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Lei Xu: Neurofibromatosis 2 is characterized by benign tumors that develop throughout the nervous system. The most common site of these tumors is the eighth cranial nerve, which carries hearing and balance information from the ears to the brain. Although these vestibular schwannomas grow slowly, they usually lead to a significant or total hearing loss by young adulthood or middle age. The tumors can also press on the brain stem, leading to headaches, difficulty swallowing and other serious neurologic symptoms. While the tumors can be surgically removed or destroyed with radiation treatment, both approaches can also damage hearing. Several previous investigations had suggested that – unlike other benign tumors – vestibular schwannomas induce the formation of new blood vessels, as malignant tumors do. A 2009 New England Journal of Medicine study led by Scott Plotkin, MD, PhD, at Massachusetts General Hospital reported that treatment with the antiangiogenesis drug bevacizumab caused shrinkage of NF2-schwannomas in most of the treated patients and improved hearing in more than half. But the limitations of that approach – the fact that not all patients responded, that the hearing improvement was often transient and that some patients could not tolerate long-term bevacizumab treatment – indicated the need to better understand the mechanisms of anti-angiogenesis on the function of tumor-bearing nerves. (more…)