Adding Plinabulin To Chemotherapy Reduces Toxicity, Improves Efficacy

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Lan Huang PhD Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer BeyondSpring Pharmaceuticals, Inc

Dr. Lan Huang

Dr. Lan Huang PhD
Co-founder, Chairman and CEO
BeyondSpring Pharmaceuticals, Inc

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The background for this study is the toxicity of Docetaxel chemotherapy causes inadequate dosing with Docetaxel due to dose delay, reduction or discontinuation, thus leaving the patient with inadequate chemotherapy treatment.

A main finding is a statistically significant p value of 0.002 in lower rates of grade 3 and 4 Neutropenia for patients dosed with a combination of BeyondSpring’s Plinabulin and Docetaxel compared to those patients dosed with Docetaxel alone. As a result, approximately 14 percent more patients stayed on the adequate (dense) dose of Docetaxel in the Docetaxel + Plinabulin arm as compared to Docetaxel alone.

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Older Breast Cancer Patients Much Less Likely to Receive 21-Gene Recurrence Score Testing

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Valentina Petkov, MD, MPH Health Scientist/Program Officer NIH/NCI/DCCPS/Surveillance Research Program

Dr. Petkov

Valentina Petkov, MD, MPH
Health Scientist/Program Officer
NIH/NCI/DCCPS/Surveillance Research Program

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Dr. Petkov: The number of breast cancer diagnoses is increasing in older patients because of increasing life expectancy and changing population demographics. Despite high incidence, little is known about breast cancer biology and outcomes in patients older than 70, which are often under-represented in clinical trials. The 21-gene Oncotype DX Breast Recurrence Score assay has been used in clinical practice to predict distant recurrence risk and chemotherapy benefit in lymph node negative, hormonal receptor positive (estrogen and/or progesterone receptor positive) invasive breast cancer since 2004. The goal of our study was to evaluate the role of the 21 gene assay in older patients at population level.

We used Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) data. We included in the analysis 40,134 patients who were diagnosed with invasive breast cancer between 2004 and 2011, had negative nodes and their tumors were hormonal receptor positive and HER2 negative. Breast Cancer Specific Mortality (BCSM) was assessed at 5 years after diagnosis in patients with low risk (Recurrence Score <18), intermediate risk (Recurrence Score 18-30) and high risk (Recurrence Score >30).

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PD-L1 Agent Atezolizumab Effective in 25% of Metastatic Urothelial Cancers

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Arjun Balar MD Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine Co-Leader Genitourinary Cancers Program NYU Langone Medical Center Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Cancer Center

Dr. Arjun Balar

Dr. Arjun Balar MD
Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine
Co-Leader Genitourinary Cancers Program
NYU Langone Medical Center
Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Cancer Center

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Dr. Balar: Standard treatment for advanced urothelial cancer includes cisplatin chemotherapy. But more than half of patients are not expected to tolerate
it well and alternative treatment is inferior to cisplatin. The average survival for these patients is in the range of 9-10 months with carboplatin-based treatment, which is the most commonly used alternative
to cisplatin. Atezolizumab is a PD-L1 blocking antibody that reactivates
the body¹s immune system to fight bladder cancer and has been recently
FDA approved in the management of advanced urothelial cancer in the
second-line setting after failure of platinum-based chemotherapy.

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Nivolumab Extended Life in Subset of Head and Neck Cancer Patients

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Robert L. Ferris, M.D., Ph.D. UPMC Endowed Professor and Vice-Chair Chief, Division of Head and Neck Surgery University of Pittsburgh

Dr. Robert Ferris

Robert L. Ferris, M.D., Ph.D.
Robert L. Ferris, M.D., Ph.D.
UPMC Endowed Professor and Vice-Chair
Associate Director for Translational Research
Co-Leader, Cancer Immunology Program

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Ferris: Investigators at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute<http://upci.upmc.edu/> (UPCI) co-led CheckMate-141<https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02105636> a large, randomized international phase III clinical trial that enrolled 361 patients with recurrent or metastatic head and neck squamous cell carcinoma who had not responded to platinum-based chemotherapy, a rapidly progressing form of the disease with an especially poor prognosis. Patients were randomized to receive either nivolumab or a single type of standard chemotherapy until tumor progression was observed.

Nivolumab, which belongs to a class of drugs known as immunotherapeutics, enables the body’s immune system to destroy cancer cells. It currently is approved to treat certain types of cancers, including melanoma and lung cancer. The nivolumab group achieved better outcomes than the standard chemotherapy group by all accounts. After 12 months, 36 percent of the nivolumab group was alive, compared to just 17 percent of the standard chemotherapy group.

Nivolumab treatment also doubled the number of patients whose tumors shrunk, and the number whose disease had not progressed after six months of treatment. Importantly, these benefits were achieved with just one-third the rate of serious adverse events reported in the standard chemotherapy group. In addition, on average, patients receiving nivolumab reported that their quality of life remained stable or improved throughout the study, while those in the chemotherapy group reported a decline. The new trial was considered so successful that it was stopped early to allow patients in the comparison group to receive the new drug.

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Primary Care Screening Detects Melanoma at Earlier Stage

Laura Ferris, M.D., Ph.D. Associate professor, Department of Dermatology University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Member of the Melanoma Program University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute

Dr. Laura Ferris

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Laura Ferris, M.D., Ph.D.
Associate professor, Department of Dermatology
University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and
Member of the Melanoma Program
University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Dr. Ferris: Rates of melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, are on the rise, and skin cancer screenings are one of the most important steps for early detection and treatment. Typically, patients receive skin checks by setting up an appointment with a dermatologist. UPMC instituted a new screening initiative, which was modeled after a promising German program, the goal being to improve the detection of melanomas by making it easier for patients to get screened during routine office visits with their primary care physicians (PCPs). PCPs completed training on how to recognize melanomas and were asked to offer annual screening during office visits to all patients aged 35 and older. In 2014, during the first year of the program, 15 percent of the 333,788 eligible UPMC patients were screened in this fashion.

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Potentially Inappropriate Medications Linked to Decreased Survival in Elderly Lymphoma Patients

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Catherine S. M. Diefenbach MD Assistant Professor of Medicine NYU Cancer Center New York, NY 10016

Dr. Catherine Diefenbach

Dr. Catherine S. M. Diefenbach MD
Assistant Professor of Medicine
NYU Cancer Center
New York, NY 10016

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Diefenbach: It is well known that age is important prognostic factor in non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL). Multiple studies have illustrated that elderly lymphoma patients have inferior survival outcomes as compared to their younger counterpart. While the tumor biology is often different in these two groups, and may play a role in this discordancy, elderly patients are often frail or have multiple medical comorbidities. These include geriatric syndromes, such as: cognitive impairment, falls, polypharmacy, and potentially inappropriate medication (PIM) use. All of these may contribute to poor outcomes for elderly patients. In addition, elderly patients are often under-treated for their aggressive lymphoma out of concern for toxicity or side effects, even though the data clearly demonstrates that elderly patients can still benefit from curative intent chemotherapy.

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Chemotherapy and Toxicities of Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors May Be Prohibitively Expensive

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Neil T. Mason, MBA
Personalized Medicine Strategist
Personalized Cancer Medicine
Division of Population Science
Moffitt Cancer Center

MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Immune checkpoint inhibitors targeting PD-1 (nivolumab and pembrolizumab) and CTLA-4 (ipilimumab) have revolutionized the treatment of metastatic disease in melanoma and non-small cell lung cancer with additional indications showing positive results. These drugs have elicited profound and durable responses in a significant number of patients, but have been criticized for their high cost. Though the price of the drugs themselves can reach over $100,000 per year, they can also cause severe, life threatening toxicities that are difficult and expensive manage.

This model utilizes patient data from a large, NCI-designated cancer center to estimate the average cost of treatment with immune checkpoint inhibitors based on average duration of treatment and reported incidence of major toxicities. Based on the model, PD-1 inhibitor therapies are less costly than ipilimumab due to the significantly higher cost per dose of ipilimumab and average treatment duration of less than a year for PD-1 inhibitors. Managing drug-related toxicities were estimated to contribute between $8,200 and $9,600 to the cost of therapy with nivolumab adding the most cost.

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Biomarker Based Chemotherapy Approach Improved Outcomes

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Maria Schwaederle PharmD Clinical Research Scientist Center for Personalized Cancer Therapy UCSD Moores Cancer Center La Jolla, CA 92093

Dr. Maria Schwaederle

Maria Schwaederle PharmD
Clinical Research Scientist
Center for Personalized Cancer Therapy
UCSD Moores Cancer Center
La Jolla, CA 92093

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Schwaederle: We performed this analysis with experts in the field, including but not limited to Drs Schilsky, Lee, Mendelsohn and Kurzrock, all known for their experience in the area of precision/personalized medicine.
Historically, phase I trials (which are often first in human or highly experimental in other ways) were believed to be examining only toxicity. Our meta-analysis of 13,203 patients shows that in the era of precision medicine, this historical belief needs to be discarded. Second, it is the use of precision medicine that makes this belief outdated.
Indeed, Phase I trials that utilized a biomarker-driven approach that is the essence of precision medicine had a median response rate of about 31%, which is higher than many FDA approved drugs, and this is in spite of the fact that phase I patients are a highly refractory group having failed multiple lines of conventional therapy.

Importantly, however, it was not the use of targeted agents alone that was important. It was the biomarker-based approach where patients are matched to drugs. Without matching, response rates were dismal—about 5%.

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Parents of Childhood Cancer Survivors Often Unaware of Future Physical, Intelligence and Quality of Life Limitations

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Katie Greenzang, MD Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center

Dr. Katie Greenzang

Katie Greenzang, MD
Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Greenzang: Advances made over the last several decades mean that more than 80 percent of children diagnosed with cancer will become long-term survivors. However, many of these survivors experience physical and cognitive late effects of the treatment that cured them. We surveyed 352 parents of children recently diagnosed with cancer to assess how well they understood their children’s risk of future limitations in physical abilities, intelligence, and quality of life. We found that an overwhelming majority of parents (92 percent) are very interested in learning about possible late effects, and most (86 percent) seek detailed information. Yet, parent and physician predictions of a child’s risk of experiencing late effects of treatment often don’t match. Among children identified by their oncologists as being at high risk for such challenges, only 38 percent of parents recognized this risk in physical abilities, 21 percent in intelligence, and 5 percent in quality of life.

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Multiplex Gene Panel Can Reveal Unexpected Clinically Relevant Genes

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Gregory Idos MD Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology Keck School of Medicine University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA 90033

Dr. Gregory Idos

Gregory Idos MD
Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology
Keck School of Medicine
University of Southern California
Los Angeles, CA 90033

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Idos: Identifying individuals at increased risk for hereditary cancer prompts enhanced cancer surveillance as early detection mitigates disease specific morbidity and mortality. This justifies germ line genetic testing for specific cancer risk alleles. In recent years, the field of cancer genetics has moved from a gene by gene sequencing approach to now having the ability to examine multiple genes concurrently. Multiplex gene panel (MGP) testing allows simultaneous analysis of multiple high- and moderate- penetrance genes. As a result, more pathogenic mutations and variants of uncertain significance (VUS) are discovered. MGP tests are increasingly being used by cancer genetic clinics, but questions remain about the clinical utility and complexities of these tests.

We are conducting a multi center prospective trial to measure the added yield of detecting pathogenic mutations using the MGP approach. In our interim analysis of the first 1000 participants, we found that multiplex gene panel testing increased the yield of detection of pathogenic mutations by 26%. In some cases, we found patient’s who had a mutation in the BRCA gene, but their family history did not indicate a history of breast or ovarian cancer.

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Radical Prostatectomies: Referral to High Volume Centers Saves Money

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Sarmad Sadeghi MD, MS, PhD Assistant Professor of Medicine Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center University of Southern California

Dr. Sarmad Sadeghi

Sarmad Sadeghi MD, MS, PhD
Assistant Professor of Medicine
Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center
University of Southern California

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Dr. Sadeghi: Several years ago analyses of outcomes for radical prostatectomy highlighted the significant impact of surgical experience on the oncological outcome for the patients. In this case experience was measured by the number of radical prostatectomies performed by the surgeon, and oncological outcome was measured by treatment failure rates (rising PSA). Despite this data, the move for redirecting patients to “high volume centers” where more experienced surgeons perform the operation has been sluggish. There was insufficient data on what is involved in referring patients to high volume centers and whether or not such action is cost effective.

In a previous study we demonstrated that for every referral to a high volume center, there would be an average of $1,800 over a follow-up period of 20 years in societal cost savings. The main source of these savings is fewer treatment failures.
The next question was who is a good candidate for referral and whether these savings can offset the referral costs.

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Multiple Myeloma: Thalidomide Derivative Lenalidomide Improved Survival After Chemo and Stem Cell Transplant

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Philip McCarthy, BA, MD Professor of Oncology Director, Blood and Marrow Transplant Program Roswell Park Cancer Institute Associate Professor of Medicine Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences State University of New York at Buffalo Buffalo, NY 14263

Dr. Philip McCarthy

Philip McCarthy, BA, MD
Professor of Oncology
Director, Blood and Marrow Transplant Program
Roswell Park Cancer Institute
Associate Professor of Medicine
Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences
State University of New York at Buffalo
Buffalo, NY 14263

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. McCarthy: There have been three Phase III studies that examined the role of maintenance lenalidomide after autologous stem cell transplant (ASCT) for newly diagnosed multiple myeloma patients. IFM 2005-02 (France), CALGB 100104 (Alliance, USA), GIMEMA-RVMM-PI-209 (Italy). All three studies had progression free survival (PFS) as their primary endpoint and all demonstrated a superior PFS when compared to placebo or no therapy after ASCT. However only the CALGB 100104 study demonstrated a statistically superior overall survival (OS). Thus, a meta-analysis was necessary to assess the effect of post-ASCT lenalidomide maintenance on overall survival. This study utilized a pooled analysis of updated primary-source patient data from all three studies after the primary efficacy analyses had been conducted. The meta-analysis demonstrated that there is a statistically superior OS (P value=0.001, HR=0.74 (0.62-0.89)), Median OS for no maintenance or placebo was 86 months and the median OS for lenalidomide had not been reached. The median OS for lenalidomide treatment arm was extrapolated to be 116 months based on median of the control arm and HR (median, 86 months; HR = 0.74). Thus, there is a 26% reduction in the risk of death which is an estimated 2.5 year increase in median OS. There is an increased incidence of second primary malignancies with lenalidomide maintenance when compared to placebo but this risk is less than the risk of dying when not receiving lenalidomide.

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