“A simple noninvasive blood test matched with state-of-the-art molecular imaging of individual cells could help oncologists understand their patients’ chances of survival, say researchers. Metastasis accounts for an estimated 90 percent of cancer deaths. For decades, researchers tried to develop a way to gauge a cancer’s risk of metastasizing from a blood sample — the long-sought-after liquid biopsy.”
“Scientists have identified four biomarkers that may help resolve the difficult differential diagnosis between malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) and non-cancerous pleural tissue with reactive mesothelial proliferations (RMPs). This is a frequent differential diagnostic problem in pleural biopsy samples taken from patients with clinical suspicion of MPM. The ability to make more accurate diagnoses earlier may facilitate improved patient outcomes. This new study appears in the Journal of Molecular Diagnostics.”
Editor’s note: Diagnosis of cancer is not always straightforward. New techniques allow doctors to use the molecular/genetic characteristics of a tumor to more quickly and accurately diagnose cancer. In the research described here, scientists identified new molecular characteristics (“biomarkers”) that could be used to help identify mesothelioma tumors.
“Today, for the first time, Metamark presents results from the clinical validation study that showed ProMark™, the first and only proteomic-based imaging biopsy test, achieved its primary endpoint by accurately differentiating between aggressive and non-aggressive forms of prostate cancer at early stages of disease. ProMark™ was shown to predict which patients have low-risk disease with a sensitivity of 90 percent or better, confidently identifying patients who are appropriate for active surveillance or need aggressive therapy. The data are being presented at the 2014 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).”
Editor’s note: Prostate cancer patients often face the tough decision of whether to pursue aggressive treatment that may have bad side effects or to wait until their cancer progresses, and closely monitor their condition. ProMark, the new test described in this story, analyzes proteins in a tumor biopsy to help determine whether a patient’s cancer is aggressive and requires aggressive treatment.
“Scientists have shown how a lung cancer patient’s blood sample could be used to monitor and predict their response to treatment – paving the way for personalised medicine for the disease.
“The recent study, published in the journal Nature Medicine, also offers a method to test new therapies in the lab and to better understand how tumours become resistant to drugs.
“Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) is an aggressive disease with poor survival and new treatments are desperately needed. In many cases the tumour is inoperable and biopsies are difficult to obtain, giving scientists few samples with which to study the disease.”
“In 2011, the drug crizotinib earned accelerated approval by the US FDA to target the subset of advanced non-small cell lung cancers caused by rearrangements of the anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) gene, and subsequently was granted regular approval in 2013. The drug also has shown dramatic responses in patients whose lung cancers harbored a different molecular abnormality, namely ROS1 gene rearrangements. Previously unreported phase 1 clinical trial results now show that crizotinib may have a third important molecular target. In advanced non-small cell lung cancer patients with intermediate and high amplifications of the MET gene, crizotinib produced either disease stabilization or tumor response. Sixty-seven percent of patients with high MET amplification showed prolonged response to the drug, which lasted from approximately 6 months to nearly 2.5 years.”
Editor’s note: Crizotinib (aka Xalkori) is a targeted therapy drug that kills cancer cells by targeting certain molecules found in the cells. It was already known that crizotinib works well for some patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) whose cancer cells have mutations in the ALK gene and in the ROS1 gene; such mutations, or “molecular biomarkers,” are detected by a medical procedure known as “molecular testing,” or “genetic testing.” Now, scientists say that crizotinib may also be effective for patients with advanced NSCLC whose tumors have abnormally high activity of a protein called MET, which can also be detected via molecular testing.
“A commercial test designed to rule out the presence of genetic biomarkers of prostate cancer may be accurate enough to exclude the need for repeat prostate biopsies in many — if not most — men, a new article reports. ‘Often, one biopsy is not enough to definitively rule out prostate cancer, says a study researcher. ‘Our research finds that by looking for the presence or absence of cancer in a different way, we may be able to offer many men peace of mind without putting them through the pain, bleeding and risk of infection that can come with a repeat biopsy.’ “
“More and more men who believe they have low-risk prostate cancers are opting for active surveillance, forgoing treatment and monitoring the cancer closely with prostate-specific antigen (PSA) tests, digital rectal exams and ultrasounds at regular intervals to see if their tumors are growing. Nearly 400 men are now enrolled in the UCLA Active Surveillance program, the largest in Southern California.
“However, according to a new UCLA study, selection of men for active surveillance should be based not on the widely used conventional biopsy, but with a new, image-guided targeted prostate biopsy. The new biopsy method, pioneered by a multi-disciplinary team on the Westwood campus, is now a routine part of the UCLA active surveillance program.”
“The need for invasive skin biopsies could be reduced extensively with Edith Cowan University researchers working on ways to detect melanoma in early stages, using a blood test in conjunction with visual scans.
“A $450,000 National Health and Medical Research Council development grant has enabled them to expand on a 2012 preliminary investigation of 40 people that identified eight blood biomarkers that indicated the early presence of melanoma tumour.
“ECU School of Medical Sciences Professor Mel Ziman conducted the original investigation and is working with PhD student Pauline Zaenker and postdoctoral research fellow Dr Elin Gray on the latest study.”
“Nymox Pharmaceutical Corporation announced today new positive outcome results from the Company’s ongoing prospective trial of NX-1207 for the treatment of low grade localized prostate cancer. These are the first clinical patient treatment outcome results for this trial. A controlled comparison was conducted of patients who required and received radiation and surgery treatments for their cancer based on blinded post-treatment upgraded evaluations of their pre-treatment initially positive lower grade cancers. The study found after up to 22 months for NX-1207 single-injection treated patients there was an 85% reduction compared to controls in the proportion of patients who had upgraded blinded biopsy results in the treated area and went on to require and receive radiation therapy and/or prostatectomy (surgery).”
Editor’s note: This story is about the results of a clinical trial that is testing the effectiveness of a new drug called NX-1207. Learn more about clinical trials here.