ASCO Immunotherapy Preview: These Cancer-Killing Viruses May Save Lives

“The closely watched annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) is about to kick off in Chicago, and if the last few years are any indication, immunotherapy will likely steal the show. Cancer researchers have been perfecting all sorts of ways to stimulate patients’ immune systems to fight cancer, from chimeric antigen receptor T-cells (CARTs) now being tested in blood cancers, to ‘checkpoint inhibitors’ like Bristol-Myers Squibb’s blockbuster melanoma treatment Yervoy (ipilimumab). But this year, an up-and-coming class of immune-boosting drugs could draw attention at ASCO—viruses that are specially engineered so they destroy tumors and then prime patients’ immune systems to continue fighting off their cancer.

“Virus-based cancer treatments, sometimes referred to as ‘virotherapy,’ constitute a fast-growing niche within immunotherapy, and one that is generating a tremendous amount of excitement in the oncology world this year. The idea has actually been around since the late 1800s, when physicians first realized that some viruses have a natural ability to kill cancer cells. But these so-called oncolytic viruses didn’t start breaking out until recently, as advances in genetic engineering have made it feasible to manipulate the virus’ genomes—recreating them, if you will, into supercharged cancer-killing machines that attack tumors but leave normal tissues alone.”


New Cancer Drug Reolysin Shrinks Lung Tumors

Interim results from a phase II clinical trial of the new cancer drug Reolysin in squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the lung, a type of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), show that tumors shrank in 23 of 25 patients. The patients had SCC that had spread from its original site, or recurred after treatment, and were treated with the chemotherapy drugs Paraplatin (carboplatin) and Taxol/Abraxane (paclitaxel) in addition to Reolysin. Ten patients experienced tumor shrinkage and 13 experienced stable disease, while the cancer progressed in 2 patients. On average, tumors shrank by a third of their original size. Reolysin consists of a modified form of a virus that selectively attacks cancer cells, while producing no symptoms in most healthy people.


Oncolytics Cancer Drug Meets Mid-Stage Trial Goal, Shares Rise

“Oncolytics Biotech Inc said preliminary data from a mid-stage trial showed that its cancer drug, Reolysin, met the main goal of reducing the size of tumors in patients with metastatic melanoma, a type of skin cancer.”


A Retrospective Analysis of VeriStrat Status on Outcome of a Randomized Phase II Trial of First-Line Therapy with Gemcitabine, Erlotinib, or the Combination in Elderly NSCLC Patients

In a multicenter randomized phase II trial of gemcitabine (arm A), erlotinib (arm B), and gemcitabine and erlotinib (arm C), similar progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS) were observed in all arms. We performed an exploratory, blinded, retrospective analysis of plasma or serum samples collected as part of the trial to investigate the ability of VeriStrat (VS) to predict treatment outcomes.

Gemcitabine is the superior treatment for elderly patients with VS Poor status. First-line erlotinib for elderly patients with VS Good status may warrant further investigation.


Quantitative Chemical Proteomics Profiling Differentiates Erlotinib from Gefitinib in EGFR Wild-type Non-small Cell Lung Carcinoma Cell Lines

Although both erlotinib and gefitinib target the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), erlotinib is effective in patients with EGFR wild-type or mutated tumors, whereas gefitinib is only beneficial for patients with activating mutations. To determine whether these differences in clinical outcomes can be attributed to their respective protein interaction profiles, a label-free, quantitative chemical proteomics study was performed. We propose that, in an EGFR wild-type context, erlotinib may have a complementary mode of action by inhibiting integrin-linked kinase (ILK), -parvin and PINCH (IPP) complex activities, resulting in the slowing down of the metastatic process of epithelial tumors.


Pathobiological Implications of MUC4 in Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer

Altered expression of MUC4 plays an oncogenic role in various cancers, including pancreatic, ovarian, and breast. This study evaluates the expression and role of MUC4 in non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

MUC4 plays a tumor-suppressor role in NSCLC by altering p53 expression in NSCLC. Decrease in MUC4 expression in advanced tumor stages also seems to confirm the novel protective function of MUC4 in NSCLC.


A Case Control Study to Assess Impact of Risk Factors on Trends of Lung Cancer

The objective of this research was to identify impact of risk factors on changing trends of lung cancer in a case control study. In the study conducted from 2006 to 2010 the cases included newly diagnosed patients of histological proven lung carcinoma attending the radiotherapy department. Change in trend was observed in patients diagnosed at younger age of 57.48 ± 0.56 years in 2010 with adenocarcinoma unlike 62.89 ± 1.21 years in 2006. Females show increase in incidence of lung cancer in 2010. The “active” smokers and years of smoking were significantly high among cases. The incidence of squamous cell carcinoma declined from 47.4% in 2006 to 15% in 2010 whereas adenocarcinoma increased.


CollabRx Releases Second Generation Lung Cancer Clinical Decision Support Tool for Oncologists

CollabRx, Inc. announced the release of a new version of its Therapy Finder™application (“app”) for lung cancer. The lung cancer Therapy Finder™app is a web-based decision support tool that enables oncologists to take into account the genetics of a patient’s tumor when determining a treatment plan. The newest lung cancer Therapy Finder™ is currently freely available at the company’s website and via distribution partners such as MedPage Today, Everyday Health’s physician portal.


Oncolytics lung cancer drug shrinks tumors in 95 pct patients

Oncolytics Biotech Inc said a mid-stage trial of its experimental lung cancer drug showed that 95 percent of the patients experienced a reduction in the size of their tumors. The drug, Reolysin, was used intravenously in combination with chemotherapy drugs carboplatin and paclitaxel. It was tested on patients suffering from metastatic or recurrent squamous cell carcinoma of the lung.