Video: Dr. Kunz on Potential of Immunotherapy in Neuroendocrine Tumors

“Pamela L. Kunz, MD, assistant professor of Medicine (Oncology), Stanford University School of Medicine, discusses the potential of immunotherapy in the treatment of patients with neuroendocrine tumors (NETs).

“There are currently some clinical trials under development looking at immunotherapy in NETs both at Stanford University School of Medicine and University of Pennsylvania, Kunz explains. One phase I/II trial will examine the safety and efficacy of intratumoral injection of ipilimumab combined with an anti—PD-L1 agent in these patients.”

“It is possible that immunotherapy agents could be agnostic to disease sites, Kunz says. Though it was originally believed that PD-1/PD-L1 expression is a requirement to be a predictive biomarker, additional research could show that it may not be necessary.”

Click through to watch the video.

What Determines Whether a Melanoma Patient Will Respond to Checkpoint Blockade Drugs?

Of all cancer types, melanoma is the most investigated in terms of its potential to be treated through immune system-based approaches. More immunotherapy drugs are approved for melanoma than for any other type of cancer, and more are in development. Recent additions to the immunotherapy arsenal are the ‘anti-PD-1’ immune checkpoint blockade drugs pembrolizumab (Keytruda) and nivolumab (Opdivo). Continue reading…

Four-Gene Model Predicts Response to Aromatase Inhibitor Therapy for Breast Cancer

“As reported in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, Turnbull et al identified a four-gene predictive model of response to aromatase inhibitor therapy that was highly predictive of response on the basis of pretreatment and 2-week on-treatment measurements. The classifier was a significant predictor of recurrence-free and breast cancer–specific survival.

“In the study, 89 postmenopausal women who had estrogen receptor-alpha–positive breast cancer and were receiving neoadjuvant letrozole underwent biopsy for transcript profiling before letrozole treatment and at 2 weeks and 3 months after starting treatment. Dynamic clinical response was assessed by three-dimensional ultrasound measurements.

“Molecular response to letrozole was characterized, and a four-gene classifier of clinical response was identified. The classifier consisted of levels of two genes before treatment (IL6ST, associated with immune signaling, and NGFRAP1, associated with apoptosis) and the levels of two proliferation genes (ASPM and MCM4) after 2 weeks of therapy.”

The Cancer Biomarker Problem

In 2008, Dr. Charles Sawyers, currently the president of American Association for Cancer Research, wrote an article for the journal Nature entitled: ‘The Cancer Biomarker Problem.’ This excellent paper clearly explains what cancer biomarkers are, outlines the different categories of biomarkers, and emphasizes how important biomarkers are in the field of targeted therapies. Predictive biomarkers are indispensable tools that should direct the rational use of targeted drugs in cancer patients. There are additional types of biomarkers, including some that could help evaluate the course of cancer progression or help determine the effective dose of an investigational drug. But this post focuses on predictive biomarkers. Continue reading…

Serum Antibodies Can Predict Survival for Patients Treated with the Vaccine PROSTVAC-VF

The pre-vaccination IgM antibodies to anti-BG-Atr were significantly associated with survival in patients with advanced prostate cancer treated with PROSTVAC-VF. This antibody may be a predictive biomarker for response to PROSTVAC-VF if validated.