Author Interviews, Cancer Research, JAMA / 25.06.2015

Dr. Ayalew Tefferi, M.D.Department of Medicine, Mayo Clinic Rochester, Minnesota MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Ayalew Tefferi, M.D. Department of Medicine, Mayo Clinic Rochester, Minnesota MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Tefferi: William Vainchenker discovered and reported an activating JAK2 mutation (JAK2V617F) in myelofibrosis and related myeloproliferative neoplasms in 2005 (Nature. 2005;434:1144-1148). This seminal observation led to the recognition of activated JAK-STAT as the potential disease-driving pathway in myeloproliferative neoplasms and development of several JAK inhibitors, including fedratinib, ruxolitinib and momelotinib, for treatment of myelofibrosis. In phase 2 studies, these JAK inhibitors showed similar activity in alleviating constitutional symptoms and reducing spleen size. However, none of them were able to induce complete or partial remissions or reversal of bone marrow fibrosis or significant lowering of JAK2 mutant allele burden. A subsequent phase 3 study provided the information required for FDA approval of ruxolitinib and the current phase 3 study was meant to do the same for fedratinib. (more…)
Author Interviews, Erectile Dysfunction, JAMA, Melanoma, NYU, Pharmacology / 24.06.2015

Dr. Stacy Loeb, MD, MScDepartment of Urology, Population Health, and Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Cancer CenterNew York University, New York MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Stacy Loeb, MD, MSc Department of Urology, Population Health, and Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Cancer Center New York University, New York Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Loeb: A paper published last year suggested a relationship between use of sildenafil (Viagra) and melanoma. That study had only 142 cases of melanoma, and of these men 14 had used sildenafil. This study got a lot of publicity leading numerous patients to express concern over whether erectile dysfunction drugs could cause melanoma. Our goal was to look more closely at this issue in a larger population from Sweden (including 4065 melanoma cases of whom 435 used any type of erectile dysfunction drug- Viagra, as well as Levitra and Cialis). Sweden has a national health system so we were able to access prescription records for men across the entire country, which we linked to the national registries for melanoma and basal cell skin cancer. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, JAMA, NIH / 22.06.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Vinay Prasad, MD, MPH Medical Oncology Service, National Cancer Institute National Institutes of Health Bethesda, Maryland MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Prasad: In medicine, there are two types of endpoints: clinical endpoints and surrogate endpoints. Clinical endpoints, such as survival or quality of life, measure how a patient, feels, functions or lives. In contrast, a surrogate endpoint is not a measure of patient benefit. Instead, it is merely hoped to correlate with one. LDL levels are a surrogate for cardiovascular risk, for instance. Oncologists use and trust surrogate endpoints, such as response rate, progression free survival and disease free survival. The majority of drug approvals and many guideline recommendations are based on improvements in surrogates. Surrogates are assumed to correlate with overall survival, but we wanted to know if this was true, and under what circumstances. We reviewed all well done studies of surrogate-survival association. We found that the majority--especially in the setting of metastatic disease--found a poor correlation between a surrogate and survival. In fact, correlations were strong in only a handful of settings, such as adjuvant colorectal cancer. Moreover, we found that correlations were always based on a subset of potentially informative literature, even when authors surveyed unpublished trials. Missing data in these association studies raises the concern that correlations would be different if all data had been considered. Our overall conclusion was that most surrogate-survival correlations in oncology are based on weak evidence and are poor. (more…)
Author Interviews, Biomarkers, Breast Cancer / 21.06.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Kristian Pietras, Ph.D. Göran & Birgitta Grosskopf Professor of Molecular Medicine Strategic Director of Cancer Research Lund University Dept of Laboratory Medicine Lund Div of Translational Cancer Research Lund, Sweden Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Pietras: Breast cancer is the largest malignant disease among women with 1.7 million new cases worldwide each year (25% of all new cancer cases for women). The prognosis for breast cancer patients is relatively good when the disease is detected at early stages (close to 90% of patients are still alive 5 years after diagnosis). Nevertheless, metastatic disease is the cause of 90% of all cancer-related deaths. Thus, learning more about the metastatic process and finding new cures for widespread disease is justifiably at the center of clinical attention. The current study is part of our ongoing efforts to map support functions performed by the various cell types comprising the tumor stroma with the premise that decisive treatment benefit can only be achieved by targeting multiple, but distinct, cell types and pathways that collectively sustain the growth of tumors. The development of a rich vascular supply is recognized as a key hallmark of a growing tumor necessary for the development into a clinically relevant disease. Our focus is the role of the tumor vasculature in preventing or promoting metastatic dissemination from the primary tumor. For a metastasis to form, a cancer cell must, 1) detach from its neighboring cells in the mother tumor, 2) traverse the vascular wall to escape into the blood stream, 3) exit the vasculature to enter the metastatic site, and 4) colonize the metastatic site. Recent evidence points to that the transmigration into and out of the vasculature is a regulated process of previously unrecognized importance for the metastatic process. Importantly, the fact that the process of escape into/from the vasculature is regulated also implies that it is possible to use drugs to block this process. In the present study, we have combined functional studies in advanced models of cancer and computational biology approaches to investigate the specific contribution to the metastatic process of a molecular signaling pathway emanating from the ALK1 protein expressed by endothelial cells in the vasculature. Using information from 2 different patient cohorts including a total of nearly 2000 breast tumors, we found that patients specifically having high levels of ALK1 in the vasculature of their tumor were much more likely to develop metastatic/recurrent disease. Accordingly, therapeutic administration of a drug (dalantercept) blocking the action of ALK1 prevented metastatic dissemination in multiple mouse models of breast cancer to a large degree. In addition, combination therapy of dalantercept and a commonly used chemotherapeutic drug (docetaxel) was exceedingly effective in preventing spread of the primary tumor to the lungs. Our results suggest that the molecular features of the tumor vasculature are important to consider as potential determinants of breast cancer dissemination and that metastatic spread can be delayed by targeting the tumor vasculature. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, JAMA, Race/Ethnic Diversity, Surgical Research, University Texas / 21.06.2015

Isabelle Bedrosian, M.D., F.A.C.S. Associate Professor, Department of Surgical Oncology, Division of Surgery, Medical Director, Nellie B. Connelly Breast Center The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Isabelle Bedrosian, M.D., F.A.C.S. Associate Professor, Department of Surgical Oncology, Division of Surgery, Medical Director, Nellie B. Connelly Breast Center 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. Bedrosian: There have been a number of reports on the rates of Breast Conserving Therapy (BCT) and mastectomy among women with early stage breast cancer. These reports have been discordant, with some suggesting that index mastectomy rates have increased and others suggestion Breast Conserving Therapy rates have actually increased. We hypothesized that these differences in reporting may be due to data source (ie tertiary referral centers vs population based studies) and turned to the NCDB, which captures 70% of cancer cases in the US and as such provides us with the most comprehensive overview on patient treatment patterns. (more…)
Author Interviews, Immunotherapy, Melanoma, Nature / 19.06.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Chiara Martinoli, PhD Medical Oncology of Melanoma European Institute of Oncology Milan, Italy MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Martinoli: The recent advent of new immunomodulatory drugs and targeted therapies is changing the therapeutic algorithm for metastatic melanoma patients. Immunomodulation with the anti-CTLA-4 antibody ipilimumab improves survival but is not devoid of potential risks. There is an urgent need for biomarkers to identify patients best suited to receive this therapy, in order to maximize treatment benefit and spare toxicities. In this study, by analyzing pre-therapy hematological parameters of a large group of metastatic melanoma patients treated with ipilimumab, we showed that neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio is strongly and independently associated to patient outcome. Patients with a low baseline neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio had a double-reduced risk of disease progression and a two-to-four-fold reduced risk of death, regardless of age, sex and LDH. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, HPV, OBGYNE, Vaccine Studies / 18.06.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Ann Goding Sauer Epidemiologist, American Cancer Society, Inc. Atlanta, GA 30303 MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? Response: Among US women, a positive association between Pap test uptake and HPV vaccination has been shown, though potential variation of the association by race/ethnicity had not been explored previously. The prevalence of some HPV types varies across different racial/ethnic groups so it is important to explore the association between Pap test uptake and HPV vaccination in detail. MedicalResearch: What are the main findings? Response: Pap test uptake was significantly lower among those who had not initiated HPV vaccination (81.0%) compared to women who had initiated vaccination (90.5%) (adjusted prevalence ratio = 0.93, 95% CI: 0.90–0.96). This result was seen across most of the sociodemographic factors examined, though not statistically significant for non-Hispanic blacks, Hispanics, those with lower levels of education, or those with higher levels of income. (more…)
Author Interviews, Biomarkers, Cancer Research, Mayo Clinic, MD Anderson, Nature / 18.06.2015

Eric Jonasch, MD Associate Professor Department of Genitourinary Medical Oncology University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center Houston, TX MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Eric Jonasch, MD Associate Professor Department of Genitourinary Medical Oncology University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center Houston, TX and Dr. Thai H. Ho, MD Ph.D. Department of Oncology Mayo Clinic Scottsdale Arizona Dr. Thai H. Ho, MD Ph.D. Department of Oncology Mayo Clinic Scottsdale Arizona Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The blueprints of a cell are encoded in DNA strands (its genome) which are highly compressed in order to fit into a tiny cell. The reading (called the epigenome) of these DNA ‘blueprints’ determines whether that cell will develop into a kidney cell or another type of cell. However, in cancer, errors occur either in the blueprints themselves or the cell makes mistakes in reading the blueprints. Cancers of the kidney affect more than 61,000 patients annually and over 13,000 patients die annually, making it one of the top 10 leading causes of cancer deaths. Studies have revealed that mutations occur in genes that regulate how our DNA ‘blueprints’ are compacted in greater than >50% of kidney cancers, making these genes as a group the most frequently mutated. In our study, we identified that these errors that initially arise in an early kidney cancer lead to propagation of these same errors in metastases, a phenomenon in which the cancer has spread to another organ and is a major cause of death. Furthermore, we generated a detailed map of these epigenomic changes in patient-derived tumors. (more…)
Author Interviews, Biomarkers, Leukemia, NYU, Pediatrics / 15.06.2015

Susan Schwab, PhD Assistant professor at NYU Langone Skirball Institute of Biomolecular Medicine MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Susan Schwab, PhD Assistant professor at NYU Langone Skirball Institute of Biomolecular Medicine Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Schwab: T cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL) remains a devastating pediatric disease. Roughly 20% of children do not respond to current therapies. Furthermore, metastasis to the central nervous system is common in T-ALL, and intrathecal chemotherapy, even when successful at eradicating the cancer, causes serious long-term cognitive side-effects. Here we report that the chemokine receptor CXCR4 is essential for T cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia progression in both mouse and human xenograft models of disease. Consistent with sustained disease remission in the absence of CXCR4, loss of CXCR4 signaling results in decreased levels of c-Myc, which is required for leukemia initiating cell activity. T-ALL cells reside near cells generating the CXCR4 ligand CXCL12 in the bone marrow, and our data suggest that vascular endothelial cells may be an important part of the T-ALL niche. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Colon Cancer / 12.06.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Prof. Catherine Quantin Teaching Hospital, Department of Biostatistics and Medical Informatics France; Dijon University Hospital, Clinical Investigation Center, Clinical Epidemiology/Clinical Trials Unit, Dijon, France and Dr Michal Abrahamowicz Ph.D Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health McGill University, Montreal, Canada Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Response: One difficulty, common to prognostic studies of cancer, concerns the need to separate the effects of prognostic factors on different clinical endpoints, such as disease recurrence vs recurrence-free death. Some published prognostic studies used a Cox regression model that included recurrence as a time-dependent covariate, to assess the impact of recurrence on mortality, and to adjust for recurrence when estimating the effects of other prognostic factors on mortality. However, the Cox model is limited to the assessment of the effects of covariates on a single endpoint, such as death. This limitation is overcome by multi-state models, that make it possible to model alternative pathways of disease progression and to assess the impact of prognostic factors on both recurrence-free death vs death after recurrence, and recurrence followed by death. Another difficulty, is that the cause of death is not available or not accurately coded. Yet, some patients are likely to die of causes not related to the disease of primary interest, especially in cancers with longer survival and in those that affect older subjects. The effects of prognostic factors estimated with Cox model, or classic multi-state models, are not able to discriminate between their effects on the mortality due to cancer of primary interest vs natural mortality. However, age is a very strong predictor of overall mortality, but is not systematically associated with higher cancer-specific mortality. To deal with this difficulty, many prognostic studies use relative survival methods. The general idea is to use the mortality tables for the relevant general population to estimate survival corrected for the expected natural mortality, due to other causes of death. (more…)
Author Interviews, Education, Prostate Cancer, Urology / 12.06.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Prajakta Adsul, MBBS, MPH, PhD; Ricardo Wray, PhD, and Sameer Siddiqui, MD Center for Cancer Prevention, Research and Outreach Saint Louis University MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Patient decision aids are interventions designed to help patients engage in shared decision making with their providers when multiple choices with more or less equivalent efficacy are available for a particular medical decision. Several patient decision aids exists for numerous medical conditions and previous research has demonstrated them to be effective in improving the patient's knowledge and understanding of treatment options and their relative efficacy and side-effects and resulting in a higher proportion of decision that are consistent with patient's values and personal preferences. In the context of prostate cancer treatment, the practice of shared decision making is vital as highlighted by recent calls from the American Urological Association and the American Cancer Society. To aid with this process, several patient decision aids exist. However, the content presented, the format and presentation styles of decision aids can be variable and can have an influence on the choice made by the patients. The purpose of this study was to assess the characteristics of the patient decision aids designed for men facing prostate cancer treatment. We used the widely accepted International Patient Decision Aids Standards (IPDAS) for the assessment, supplemented with implementation criteria to strategize successful future improvement and promotion of decision aids in routine urological practice. The main findings of the review were that none of the decision aids reviewed met all standards. The aids had variable content, format and presentation of prostate cancer treatment information. Several decision aids were outdated and critical issues such as the risk of overtreatment and active surveillance as a treatment option for prostate cancer were not always covered in decision aids. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, Duke, Genetic Research, JAMA / 11.06.2015

Michaela Dinan, Ph.D. Duke Clinical Research Institute and Duke Cancer Institute Department of Medicine Duke University School of Medicine Durham, North Carolina MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Michaela Dinan, Ph.D. Duke Clinical Research Institute and Duke Cancer Institute Department of Medicine Duke University School of Medicine Durham, North Carolina Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: I think it will be critical to further explore the implications of Oncotype DX breast cancer assay (ODX testing) in women with breast cancer. The ODX test helps predict which cancers will be more aggressive as well as guide recommendations as to which patients would most likely benefit from chemotherapy. I think we should look to see what impact this test is really having on the use of chemotherapy and its associated costs and outcomes for real-world breast cancer patients. (more…)
Author Interviews, Biomarkers, Lung Cancer, Wistar / 11.06.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Qihong Huang, M.D., Ph.D. Associate professor in the Tumor Microenvironment and Metastasis Program The Wistar Institute Qihong Huang, M.D., Ph.D. Associate professor in the Tumor Microenvironment and Metastasis Program The Wistar Institute Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Huang: Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in both men and women in the United States and results in more deaths globally than breast, prostate and colon cancers combined. While the five year survival rate for early stage non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is above 50%, it is less than 5% in patients with metastatic disease. Clearly, early detection can save lives, but accurate screening tests for high-risk individuals are still lacking. Although low dose computed tomography (LDCT) has been successfully used for screening in high-risk populations, multiple negative factors are associated with recurrent LDCT screening, including false-positives and false-negatives, unnecessary invasive procedures, radiation exposure, global availability of the technology and cost. Although several non-invasive tests for lung cancer using body fluids such as blood, urine or sputum are under investigation, none are currently available. When low dose computed tomography is used for screening, patients who are 50 years old or older are frequently diagnosed with pulmonary nodules. However, only a small fraction of the nodules detected are subsequently diagnosed as lung cancer. In cases where it is difficult to differentiate malignant from benign nodules, it is recommended that patients with these indeterminate nodules be followed with serial LDCT, which increases radiation exposure and financial cost. A simple, inexpensive blood test that differentiates malignant from benign nodules would fill an important clinical need. In this study, we validated AKAP4 as a highly accurate biomarker in a cohort of 264 blood samples from patients with known non-small cell lung cance and 135 controls samples from two different sites including a subset of controls with high risk lung nodules. When all 264 lung cancers were compared with all 135 controls, the area under the ROC curve (AUC) was 0.9714. When 136 stage I NSCLC lung cancers were compared with all controls, the AUC is 0.9795, and when all lung cancer patients were compared to 27 controls with histologically confirmed benign lung nodules – a comparison of significant clinical importance – the AUC was 0.9825. AKAP4 expression increases significantly with tumor stage but independently of age, gender, smoking history or cancer subtype. Follow-up studies in a small number of resected NSCLC patients revealed a decrease of AKAP4 expression post-surgical resection that remained low in patients in remission and increased with tumor recurrence. AKAP4 is a highly accurate biomarker for the detection of early stage lung cancer, lung cancer recurrence, and distinguishing malignant from benign lung nodules. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, JAMA, OBGYNE / 11.06.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Prof. Joris Vermeesch Hoofd Moleculaire Cytogenetica Coordinator Genomics Core University of Leuven, University Hospitals Leuven, Belgium Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Vermeesch: We developed a novel analysis methodology for Noninvasive prenatal testing (NIPT), which not only interrogates the common trisomies, but looks at variations across all chromosomes. We obtain a kind of genome wide copy number variation plot. By applying this analysis method for Noninvasive prenatal testing, we have strict quality parameters. If faulty, we ask for a second sample. In one pregnant woman, the second sample showed exactly the same aberrations as in the first sample. We excluded this variation to be caused by a maternal constitutional chromosomal rearrangement and also excluded this aberration to be from fetal origin. This prompted us to assume a maternal cancer was the cause. Three such cases were observed, all three women were referred to the oncology unit and all three were proven to show a cancer. (more…)
Author Interviews, Biomarkers, Chemotherapy, JAMA, Johns Hopkins, Prostate Cancer / 08.06.2015

Emmanuel S. Antonarakis, M.B.B.CH Department of Urology and Oncology Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Baltimore, Maryland MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Emmanuel S. Antonarakis, M.B.B.CH Department of Urology and Oncology Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Baltimore, Maryland Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Antonarakis: In a previous publication, we reported that detection of the androgen receptor splice variant 7 (AR-V7; an abnormal version of the androgen receptor) in circulating tumor cells from patients with advanced prostate cancer was associated with resistance to hormonal therapies such as abiraterone and enzalutamide. Here, we aimed to explore the role of AR-V7 in the context of chemotherapy treatment. We showed that detection of AR-V7 was not associated with resistance to the chemotherapy drugs docetaxel or cabazitaxel, and that AR-V7-positive patients could still derive benefit from these chemotherapies. (more…)
ASCO, Author Interviews, Biomarkers, Cancer Research / 06.06.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Kirsten Timms, PhD Program Director VP Biomarker Discovery at Myriad Genetics Inc Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Timms: The Homologous Recombination Deficiency (HRD) score is a tumor biomarker which quantitates genomic rearrangements associated with defects in DNA damage repair. It has been shown in multiple studies that HRD score can identify tumors sensitive to DNA damaging agents such as platinum salts or PARP inhibitors. Many tumors are spatially heterogeneous: different parts of a tumor show variation at both the genomic level, and in their appearance. This tumor heterogeneity has the potential to negatively impact the accuracy of biomarker tests. This study assessed the consistency of the HRD score in multiple biopsies obtained from the same cancer to understand the impact of tumor heterogeneity on the HRD score. The main finding of this study is that the HRD score is highly conserved between different biopsies of the same tumor. (more…)
Author Interviews, Colon Cancer, Genetic Research, JAMA, Johns Hopkins / 05.06.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Timothy Michael Pawlik, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D. Chief, Division of Surgical Oncology Professor of Surgery John Hopkins MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Timothy Michael Pawlik, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D. Chief, Division of Surgical Oncology Professor of Surgery John Hopkins Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Pawlik: The prognosis of patients operated on for colorectal liver metastasis (CRLM) is currently defined by various “traditional” clinicopathologic factors. However the insight that they provide is incomplete. KRAS is the most common oncogene of the RAS family and is reported in up to 30 to 40% of patients with colorectal liver metastasis. As a result, KRAS mutational status recently attracted a lot of attention as a potential prognostic factor in colorectal liver metastasis. However, overall mutant KRAS status (compared to wild type) correlated with worse survival only in some studies. We hypothesized that the specific KRAS activating mutations (codon 12 and codon 13) confer different biologic behaviors to the tumor and in turn, account for different (if any) prognostic values. The different proportions of each KRAS specific mutation could determine whether the overall mutational status would be associated with worse survival. In our view, the different proportions of specific mutations in various cohorts could account for the variability of the outcomes in different studies. Medical Research: What are the main findings? Dr. Pawlik: Our results showed that only codon 12 KRAS mutations conferred a worse prognosis whereas codon 13 ones did not. Furthermore, we examined the different point mutations that constitute codon 12 mutations and we found that among G12A, G12D, G12V, G12C and G12S KRAS point mutations, only G12V and G12S were independent prognostic factors of worse survival. That confirmed our hypothesis that only some of the point mutations do have a significant prognostic role and that the relative incidence of those mutations could determine if overall KRAS mutational status would be associated with worse survival in a certain cohort. (more…)
AACR, Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, Cancer Research, Nutrition / 05.06.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Ying Wang, PHD | Senior Epidemiologist American Cancer Society, Inc. Atlanta, Georgia Dr. Wang: Several epidemiologic studies and a recent large pooled analysis suggest that higher blood levels of carotenoids, a group of lipid-soluble pigments that are rich in colorful fruits and vegetables, are associated with lower breast cancer risk. What remains unclear is whether or not the effect of carotenoids on breast cancer differ by estrogen receptor status, tumor stage, BMI, and smoking status. We examined plasma carotenoids and breast cancer risk overall, and by aforementioned tumor and participant characteristics in a cohort of 992 postmenopausal women. We found that higher pre-diagnosis plasma α-carotene, but not other subtypes or total carotenoids, was significantly associated with lower invasive breast cancer risk. The inverse association of α-carotene with breast cancer risk seems stronger for estrogen receptor positive tumors than for estrogen receptor negative tumors. There is a suggestive inverse association of total plasma carotenoid levels and breast cancer among ever smokers but not among never smokers. (more…)
ASCO, Author Interviews, Chemotherapy / 03.06.2015

Professor Patrick Schöffski Head, Department of General Medical Oncology and the Laboratory of Experimental Oncology at the University Hospital Leuven, KU Leuven, Belgium MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Professor Patrick Schöffski Head, Department of General Medical Oncology and the Laboratory of Experimental Oncology at the University Hospital Leuven, KU Leuven, Belgium MedicalResearch: What are the key points of the study? Professor Schöffski: This is the first and only randomised controlled trial of a single agent systemic therapy to demonstrate an improvement in overall survival in people previously treated for advanced soft tissue sarcomas. The study met its primary objective for overall survival benefit (OS) for investigational use in patients treated with eribulin compared to dacarbazine. Median OS for eribulin was 13.5 months versus 11.5 months for dacarbazine representing a significant benefit, meaning that patients treated with eribulin may have a 23% reduction in the risk of death. Furthermore, an additional study endpoint included progression-free survival (PFS) at 12 weeks. While there was a numerical difference between arms favouring eribulin versus dacarbazine (33% vs 29%) this was not statistically significant. Median PFS was 2.6 months in both arms. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, JAMA, NYU, Surgical Research / 03.06.2015

Wiliam C. Huang, MD FACSAssociate Professor of Urology Division of Urologic Oncology NYU Langone Medical Center/Perlmutter Cancer Institute MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Wiliam C. Huang, MD FACS Associate Professor of Urology Division of Urologic Oncology NYU Langone Medical Center/Perlmutter Cancer Center Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Huang: The presentation of kidney cancers has dramatically evolved over the past two decades with most kidney cancers being incidentally diagnosed at an early stage. We have begun to recognize that at this small size (< 4 cm), the tumors are frequently indolent in nature and some are completely benign. Consequently, the management options for these small cancers have expanded and evolved. Whereas the entire removal of the kidney was the treatment of choice in the past, alternative options including removal or ablation of the tumor-bearing portion of the kidney has become increasingly utilized. Similar to other early stage cancers, watchful waiting or observation is also becoming a reasonable treatment option. We used the most recent SEER-Medicare Data (2001 – 2009) to evaluate the management trends and outcomes of small kidney cancers in the new millennium. We believe that this is an important study as it provides important and practical findings, which are useful to both clinical researches as well as practicing physicians. (more…)
ASCO, Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Chemotherapy, Genetic Research / 03.06.2015

MedicalResearch.com spoke with Dr. Jonathan Lancaster, MD, Ph.D. at the 2015 ASCO meeting in Chicago. Dr. Lancaster is the new Vice President of Medical Affairs for Oncology, Myriad Genetic Laboratories, at Myriad. Dr. Lancaster jointed Myriad in February 2015 after twelve years at the Moffitt Cancer Center. Prior to Moffitt, Dr. Lancaster was medical director of the Gynecologic Dysplasia Clinic at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, NC, where he also completed his residency and fellowship training. MedicalResearch.com spoke with Dr. Johnathan Lancaster, MD, Ph.D. at the 2015 ASCO meeting in Chicago. Dr. Lancaster is the new Vice President of Medical Affairs for Oncology, Myriad Genetic Laboratories, at Myriad. Dr. Lancaster jointed Myriad in February 2015 after twelve years at the Moffitt Cancer Center. Prior to Moffitt, Dr. Lancaster was medical director of the Gynecologic Dysplasia Clinic at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, NC, where he also completed his residency and fellowship training. MedicalResearch.com: Can you tell us a little more about your background? How did you come to work at Myriad? Dr. Lancaster: My background and interests lie at the intersection of patient care and the molecular and genetic understanding of cancer. I completed my MD and Ph.D. in molecular genetics at the University of Wales, and then came to Duke for a research fellowship and residency training in Obstetrics & Gynecology. I spent twelve years as a gynecology-oncology surgeon. At the Moffitt Cancer Center, I ran a research lab attempting to understand the molecular and genetic underpinnings of ovarian cancer development and progression. Our translation research attempted to identify markers, or microRNAs, that help predict ovarian tumors’ response to chemotherapeutic agents. I also have experience in the management and financial issues facing medicine and health care. While at Moffitt, I was president of the 350-member Moffitt Medical Group, deputy physician-in-chief and director of the Center for Women's Oncology. The opportunity at Myriad Genetics allows me to utilize my experience in all three interests, clinical care, research and management, to contribute to a broader mission of cancer treatment and prevention. MedicalResearch.com: What studies are being presented at ASCO this year by Myriad associated researchers? Dr. Lancaster: There are 19 abstracts presented by Myriad at ASCO 2015, which is a testament to the emphasis Myriad places on basic and translational research (Myriad reinvests $300-400 of the proceeds from every clinical test performed into research). The studies center around two main themes: 1: An enhanced panel of genes, called MyRisk, to test for increased risk of hereditary cancers. 2: The use of Homologous Recombination Deficiency (HRD) testing and score, called MyChoice, which helps clinicians determine which patients may respond best to some chemotherapeutic agents. MedicalResearch.com: What does the MyRisk panel offer over and above the information learned from BRAC1/2 testing? Why should a patient or clinician want this testing performed? Dr. Lancaster: The MyRisk panel tests for 25 state-of-the-art genes with the goal of determining who may be at increased risk for certain malignancies even if they are BRAC1/2 negative. The typical patient is one who has a family history of cancer but may have been told she doesn’t have the ‘breast cancer gene’ because she is BRAC1/2 negative. We now know that up to 50% of these patients may carry other genes that make them more susceptible to cancer. Panel testing allows clinicians to identify many more patients at risk for cancer who would have been missed with more traditional BRAC1/2 testing alone. (more…)
Author Interviews, Dermatology, JAMA, Melanoma / 03.06.2015

Catherine M. Olsen, PhD Population Health Department QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute Queensland, Australia MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Catherine M. Olsen, PhD Population Health Department QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute Queensland, Australia MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? Dr. Olsen: Effective skin cancer control requires two strategies: regular sun protection to prevent new cancers from occurring and early detection assisted by periodic skin examinations. The aim of our study was to describe the prevalence and predictive factors for sun protection and skin examination practices of adults in Queensland, Australia, a region that experiences the highest rates of skin cancer in the world. We were particularly interested in whether sun protection and skin examination practices differed between those with and without a previously confirmed melanoma and/or treatment for other skin lesions. MedicalResearch: What are the main findings? Dr. Olsen: The prevalence of both sun protection and skin examination practices was generally high in this large cohort of people who experience high levels of ambient sun exposure. People who had been diagnosed with a melanoma or other skin lesion were more likely than those without to report sun protection practices including regular use of sunscreen and wearing hats. The strongest predictor of sun protection practices was having a sun-sensitive skin type, and the strongest predictor of skin examination practices was having many moles and/or a family history of melanoma. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, JAMA, Leukemia / 03.06.2015

Efrat Amitay, PhD, MPH School of Public Health University of Haifa Mount Carmel, Haifa, Israel MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Efrat Amitay, PhD, MPH School of Public Health University of Haifa Mount Carmel, Haifa, Israel Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Amitay: Although childhood cancer is still rare, we are seeing an increase of around 0.9% annually in the incidence rate in the western world. In spite of advancements in treatment technologies, childhood cancer is a leading cause of death among children and adolescents in the western world – accounting for about 12.3% of all deaths among children age 1-14 years in the US. Childhood cancer is also emerging as a major cause of death in other parts of the world where death rates from communicable diseases are declining. Leukemia is the most common type of childhood cancer and accounts for about 30% of all childhood and adolescent cancers. Medical Research: What are the main findings? Dr. Amitay: The meta-analysis of all 18 studies indicated that compared with no or shorter duration of breastfeeding, breastfeeding for 6 months or longer was associated with a 19% lower risk for childhood leukemia (OR=0.81, 95% CI, 0.73-0.89). A separate analysis of 15 of those studies indicated that ever being breastfed compared with never being breastfed was associated with an 11% lower risk for childhood leukemia (OR=0.89, 95% CI, 0.84-0.94). All meta-analyses of other sub groups of studies have shown similar associations, indicating that 14%-19% of all childhood leukemia cases may be prevented by breastfeeding for 6 months or more. (more…)
Author Interviews, Biomarkers, Breast Cancer / 03.06.2015

Daniel F. Hayes, M.D. Stuart B. Padnos Professor of Breast Cancer Research University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center Ann Arbor MI MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Daniel F. Hayes, M.D. Stuart B. Padnos Professor of Breast Cancer Research University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center Ann Arbor MI Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Hayes: We have developed a circulating tumor cell endocrine therapy index that we hypothesize will identify patients with estrogen receptor positive metastatic breast cancer but who will not benefit from endocrine (anti-estrogen) therapy. We can now semi-quantifiably measure er as well as bcl2, her2, and ki67 in a highly accurate and reproducible fashion. We are now conducting a multi-institutional prospective trial in North America (the Circulating Tumor Cell-Endocrine Therapy COMETI study) to determine if our hypothesis is correct. (more…)
Author Interviews, Immunotherapy, Melanoma / 02.06.2015

Prof. Ze'ev Ronai Ph.D Scientific Director Sanford-Burnham's La Jolla MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Prof. Ze'ev Ronai Ph.D Scientific Director Sanford-Burnham's La Jolla Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Prof. Ronai: There is an urgent need to find new approaches to treat melanoma in patients that are resistant to current therapeutic regimes—and this represents a significant percent of melanoma patients. We used samples from patients with drug resistant tumors to study the molecular basis of resistance and screened for genes involved in the process. We have identified a new player in melanoma resistance to therapy—a molecular target, which provides the basis for clinical trials with drugs currently available to these targets. We found that JAK1 kinase is one target that is upregulated in the resistant tumors. Inhibiting JAK1 kinase can effectively overcome such resistance. (more…)
ASCO, Author Interviews, Journal Clinical Oncology, Melanoma / 02.06.2015

Howard L. Kaufman, MD, FACS Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey New Brunswick, NJ MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Howard L. Kaufman, MD, FACS Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey New Brunswick, NJ Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The study clearly demonstrated that advanced melanoma patients achieved a significant improvement in both response rate and durable response rate with Talimogene laherparepvec, or T-VEC. T-VEC is the first oncolytic virus to show a clinical benefit in a randomized phase 3 clinical trial for the treatment of cancer. Patients who received T-VEC also had an improved progress-free and overall survival with nearly 11% obtaining a complete response. T-VEC is an oncolytic virus that mediates anti-tumor activity by directly killing injected tumor cells and by initiating a systemic immune response. Treatment was also associated with few side effects, which were mostly low grade fever, fatigue, chills, nausea and pain at the injection site. (more…)
Author Interviews, Nutrition, Prostate Cancer / 01.06.2015

Meng Yang, PhD MPH Research Fellow Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Meng Yang, PhD MPH Research Fellow Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Yang: There are nearly 3 million American men living with prostate cancer. However, there is very little information for patients and clinicians about how to manage patients’ lifestyles, like diet, after prostate cancer diagnosis to decrease the risk of death due to this disease and improve their survivorship. The most important finding is that men initially diagnosed with prostate cancer without metastases whose diet was more “Westernized”, i.e. higher processed meats, refined grains, potatoes and high-fat dairy, had a significantly higher prostate cancer-related death and all cause mortality. Men whose diet was more “prudent”, i.e. higher intake of vegetables, fruits, fish, whole grains and healthy oils had a lower risk of death. (more…)
ASCO, Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, Cancer Research, NEJM, Surgical Research, Yale / 31.05.2015

Anees B. Chagpar, MD, MSc, MPH, MA, MBA, FRCS(C), FACSAssociate Professor, Department of Surgery Director, The Breast Center -- Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale-New Haven Assistant Director -- Global Oncology, Yale Comprehensive Cancer Center Program Director, Yale Interdisciplinary Breast Fellowship Yale University School of Medicine Breast Centerm New Haven, CT 06510 MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Anees B. Chagpar, MD, MSc, MPH, MA, MBA, FRCS(C), FACS, Associate Professor, Department of Surgery Director, The Breast Center -- Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale-New Haven, Assistant Director -- Global Oncology, Yale Comprehensive Cancer Center Program Director, Yale Interdisciplinary Breast Fellowship Yale University School of Medicine Breast Centerm New Haven, CT, Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Every year in the US, nearly 300,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer -- the majority of these will have early stage breast cancer, and will opt for breast conserving surgery to remove their disease. The goal of this operation is to remove the cancer with a rim of normal tissue all the way around it (i.e., a margin), but sadly, 20-40% of women will have cancer cells at the edge of the tissue that is removed, often mandating a return trip to the operating room to remove more tissue to ensure that no further disease is left behind. No one likes to go back to the operating room -- so we asked the question, "How can we do better?". Surgeons have debated various means of obtaining clear margins. Some have advocated taking routine cavity shave margins -- a little bit more tissue all the way around the cavity after the tumor is removed at the first operation. Others have argued that this may not be necessary; that one could use intraoperative imaging of the specimen and gross evaluation to define where more tissue may need to be removed (if at all) -- i.e., selective margins. We conducted a randomized controlled trial to answer this question. We told surgeons to do their best operation, using intraoperative imaging and gross evaluation, and removing selective margins as they saw fit. After they were happy with the procedure they had performed and were ready to close, we opened a randomization envelope intraoperatively, and surgeons were either instructed to close as they normally would ("NO SHAVE"), or take a bit more tissue all the way around the cavity ("SHAVE"). Patients in both groups were evenly matched in terms of baseline characteristics. The key finding was that patients who were randomized to the "SHAVE" group half as likely to have positive final margins and require a re-operation than patients in the "NO SHAVE" group. On their postoperative visit, we asked patients, before they knew which group they had been randomized to, what they thought of their cosmetic results. While the volume of tissue excised in the "SHAVE" group was higher than in the "NO SHAVE" group, the distribution of patient-perceived cosmetic outcomes were identical in both groups. Complication rate was also no different between the two groups. We will be following patients for five years for long-term cosmetic and recurrence outcomes. (more…)