FDA Panel Narrowly Backs DNA Colon Cancer Test

“A panel of Food and Drug Administration advisers has narrowly backed an experimental blood test that uses patients’ DNA to help screen for colon cancer.

“The FDA’s genetic experts voted 5-4, with one abstention, that the benefits of Epigenomics’ test outweigh the risks. The vote amounts to a recommendation for approval of the company’s Epi proColon kit. The FDA is not required to follow the panel’s recommendation.

“Doctors have long used stool tests to look for hidden blood that can be an early warning of cancer. Epigenomics’ test is part of a new wave of diagnostics that detect genetic markers associated with cancerous tumors.”


New Compound Targets Previously 'Undruggable' Cancer-Driving Mutation in KRAS Gene

Mutations in the KRAS gene are the most common cancer-driving mutations in all cancers; they occur in 20% of lung cancers and 40% of colon cancers. KRAS-mutant cancers are aggressive and do not respond well to current treatments. Although the importance of KRAS mutations in cancer has been known for over 30 years, scientists have so far not succeeded in developing a drug targeting them. Now researchers have located a previously undetected ‘pocket’ on a certain mutated form of the KRAS protein. The mutation, called KRAS(G12C), occurs in 7% of lung cancer and 9% of colorectal cancer patients. The researchers then created molecules that bind to the ‘pocket’ and inhibit the mutant KRAS, but not normal KRAS protein. They hope to develop these compounds into drugs against KRAS-mutant cancers.


New Treatment Extends Immunotherapy in Mice, Now in Clinical Trial

Cancer treatments that make the immune system attack tumor cells often stop working after a while. This is because cells (called T regulatory cells) that protect our bodies from the immune system also end up protecting our tumors. New research shows that blocking T regulatory cells with antibodies extends immunotherapy in mice implanted with human lymphoma tumors. The researchers injected tumors with a mix of these antibodies and an immune system booster called CpG and found that treating just one tumor was enough to control tumors elsewhere, too. This could help treat tumors in the central nervous system, which can be hard to reach with conventional therapies. A clinical trial of the new treatment is underway for people with colon cancer, lymphoma, or melanoma and is currently recruiting participants.


Clinical Trials Slated for Treatment That Shrinks All Tumors Tested

Last year, a PNAS study showed that the surfaces of many tumor cells have a protein called CD47, which protects them from the immune system. But when these tumors are treated with a drug that inhibits CD47, they get attacked by immune system cells. The researchers transplanted seven kinds of human tumors into mice and treated them with the CD47-targeting drug. All of the tumors—bladder, brain, breast, colon, liver, ovary, and prostate—shrank or disappeared, which kept them from spreading. Now, the research will progress to clinical trials, thanks to a $20 million grant from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. CD47 was originally found on leukemia and lymphoma cells; the initial trial will target the stem cells that perpetuate acute myeloid leukemia. This cancer of the blood and bone marrow is fatal within months if untreated, and the 5-year survival rate is only 30% to 40%, even with aggressive treatments including chemotherapy and bone marrow transplants.


Clinical Trials Slated for Treatment That Shrinks All Tumors Tested

Last year, a PNAS study showed that the surfaces of many tumor cells have a protein called CD47, which protects them from the immune system. But when these tumors are treated with a drug that inhibits CD47, they get attacked by immune system cells. The researchers transplanted seven kinds of human tumors into mice and treated them with the CD47-targeting drug. All of the tumors—bladder, brain, breast, colon, liver, ovary, and prostate—shrank or disappeared, which kept them from spreading. Now, the research will progress to clinical trials, thanks to a $20 million grant from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. CD47 was originally found on leukemia and lymphoma cells; the initial trial will target the stem cells that perpetuate acute myeloid leukemia. This cancer of the blood and bone marrow is fatal within months if untreated, and the 5-year survival rate is only 30% to 40%, even with aggressive treatments including chemotherapy and bone marrow transplants.


Clinical Trials Slated for Treatment That Shrinks All Tumors Tested

Last year, a PNAS study showed that the surfaces of many tumor cells have a protein called CD47, which protects them from the immune system. But when these tumors are treated with a drug that inhibits CD47, they get attacked by immune system cells. The researchers transplanted seven kinds of human tumors into mice and treated them with the CD47-targeting drug. All of the tumors—bladder, brain, breast, colon, liver, ovary, and prostate—shrank or disappeared, which kept them from spreading. Now, the research will progress to clinical trials, thanks to a $20 million grant from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. CD47 was originally found on leukemia and lymphoma cells; the initial trial will target the stem cells that perpetuate acute myeloid leukemia. This cancer of the blood and bone marrow is fatal within months if untreated, and the 5-year survival rate is only 30% to 40%, even with aggressive treatments including chemotherapy and bone marrow transplants.