DNA Mutations Shed in Blood Predicts Response to Immunotherapy in Patients With Cancer

Excerpt:

“In a first-of-its-kind study, University of California San Diego School of Medicine researchers report that a blood sample, or liquid biopsy, can reveal which patients will respond to checkpoint inhibitor-based immunotherapies.

” ‘We can help predict response to immunotherapy by measuring the number of mutations in circulating tumor DNA using a simple blood test,’ said Yulian Khagi, MD, UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center fellow and first author. ‘Immunotherapy can result in serious side effects, and therefore being able to predict who will respond is important to mitigating potential risk to each patient.’ ”

Go to full article.

If you’re wondering whether this story applies to your own cancer case or a loved one’s, we invite you to use our ASK Cancer Commons service.


White Blood Cell Count Predicts Response to Lung Cancer Immunotherapy

Excerpt:

“White blood cell counts can predict whether or not lung cancer patients will benefit from immunotherapy, according to research presented at the European Lung Cancer Conference (ELCC).

” ‘Immune checkpoint inhibitors such as and pembrolizumab significantly improve overall survival in some – but not all – patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC),’ said lead author Dr Marcello Tiseo, Coordinator of DMT Thoracic Oncology, University Hospital of Parma, Italy. ‘Researchers are looking for a predictive biomarker to select patients that will benefit from this treatment to avoid unnecessary toxicity and a waste of resources in patients who will not respond.’ ”

Go to full article.

If you’re wondering whether this story applies to your own cancer case or a loved one’s, we invite you to use our ASK Cancer Commons service.


Biomarker Needed for CAPTEM Regimen in Metastatic Pancreatic NETs

“Treatment with capecitabine and temozolomide (CAPTEM) is an effective therapy for patients with metastatic pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (pNETs), but the efficacy of several predictive markers previously thought to determine which patients might respond to the regimen could not be validated, according to a presentation at the 2015 NANETS Symposium.

“ ‘In our study we tried to assess the role of potential predictors of response to temozolomide-based regimens in metastatic pNETs,’ according to lead author Mauro Cives, MD, who presented the findings at the 2015 North American Neuroendocrine Tumor Society symposium. The markers the investigators evaluated were expression of MGMT, proliferative activity, and ALT activation.

“Investigators looked at 143 patients with metastatic pNETs treated at Moffitt who had undergone therapy with CAPTEM and retrospectively evaluated them for radiographic response. ‘This is the largest reported cohort of pNET patients treated with temozolomide-based chemotherapy,’ said Cives, a research associate in the Department of GI Oncology at the Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute in Tampa, Florida.”


Gene Mutation Signals Poor Prognosis for Pancreatic Tumors

“For patients with pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors, the presence of recently identified mutations in two key genes is a prognostic factor for poor outcome, researchers report.

” ‘We found loss of nuclear expression in about 23% of the tumors that we studied, and this loss of expression was associated with worse tumors from the outset,’ lead investigator Michelle Heayn, MD, a second-year pathology resident at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, told Medscape Medical News.

“Pancreatic tumors with neuroendocrine histology frequently respond to chemotherapy and have a more favorable prognosis than the more common pancreatic adenocarcinomas. However, the mutations are associated with worse disease-free and disease-specific survival.”


To PD-L1 or Not to PD-L1: That Is the Question


These days, it seems that I write mostly about immune checkpoint blockade drugs, or some other new immunotherapy treatment for cancer. This post is no different—it covers PD-L1, a protein that is at the center of clinical decisions for selecting patients who are likely to benefit from treatment with an anti-PD-1 or anti-PD-L1 drug. Continue reading…


New Statistical Model May Help Predict Patients Most Likely to Benefit from Surgical Treatment for Mesothelioma

“A new statistical model may help predict which patients are most likely to receive life-extending benefits from surgical treatment for malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM), according to an article in the September 2015 issue of The Annals of Thoracic Surgery.

“MPM is an aggressive cancer that affects the lining of the chest cavity (pleura). The main cause of mesothelioma is believed to be repeated exposure to asbestos, which is a naturally occurring group of minerals found in soil and rocks around the world. Asbestos was previously used to make fireproof materials, such as theater curtains, insulation, flooring, and workers’ gloves, and is still used in some products today. About 3,000 cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed in the US each year, with many more worldwide. There is frequently a lag time of twenty years or more between exposure to asbestos and the development of the disease.

“Currently, there is no cure for advanced stage mesothelioma, and the 5-year survival rate is only about 10%.”


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…


Is There a Future for Immunotherapy in Breast Cancer?


Lately, immunotherapy—treatment that helps the body’s own immune system fight cancer—has made frequent appearances in news headlines. Indeed, researchers have reported remarkable clinical trial results for a new class of drugs known as ‘immune checkpoint blockade drugs‘ in the treatment of metastatic melanoma, lung, and kidney cancers. Approvals from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the drugs Keytruda and Opdivo for melanoma and lung cancer have quickly followed. However, it may be that immunotherapies won’t work for all cancers, but only for those considered to be ‘immunogenic’; that is, cancers that trigger activation of the immune system. Researchers are studying different types of breast cancer to determine whether they are immunogenic, and what that might mean for their prognosis and treatments. Continue reading…