Editor’s note: This article is about a research study that looked at the effects of taking the anti-diabetes drug metformin before surgery for renal cell carcinoma (RCC). The researchers found that metformin might improve patients’ survival times. However, more research is needed to see whether metformin is truly beneficial.
“Patient exposure to metformin before undergoing nephrectomy for renal cell carcinoma (RCC) may have an effect on patient survival, according to the results of a study published recently in Urologic Oncology.
“Results of the study showed a positive effect of the anti-diabetes drug in an unadjusted analysis; however, this effect was not seen on multivariable analysis.
“ ‘Interest in metformin as a possible therapeutic option for RCC has been generated by emerging data from both observation and prospective studies assessing the association between risk of cancer-related death and exposure to metformin for a variety of malignancies,’ wrote Sarah P. Psutka, MD, of the department of urology at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn., and colleagues.”
Editor’s note: This article describes three separate new findings in cancer research. The first is relevant for people with metastatic renal cell carcinoma (mRCC). Researchers have found that image-guided local ablation of tumors still has an important treatment role, even though there have been recent improvements in mRCC drugs. The second finding concerns people with metastatic neuroendocrine tumors (NETS). A clinical trial with volunteer patients found promising results for patients treated with the new drug lanreotide (aka Somatuline). The third finding has to do with preventing cervical cancer in women at high risk for the disease. The women involved in the study had high-grade cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN 2/3), and were treated with surgical removal of the squamocolumnar junction (SCJ). These women had only low-grade recurrences, suggesting that removing SCJ cells might help prevent cervical cancer.
“More than 80% of patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma (mRCC) remained alive without disease progression 3 years after image-guided local ablation of tumors, a retrospective study showed.
“Six of 76 evaluable tumors recurred an average of 1.6 years from treatment. Local ablation represents a “relatively safe procedure with acceptable local control rates,” authors concluded in an article published in the August issue of the Journal of Urology. A summary of the article leads off this edition of OncoBriefs, which also examines a somatostatin derivative for neurendocrine tumors and a surgical approach to cervical cancer prevention.”
Editor’s note: Researchers are conducting a clinical trial with volunteer patients to test a new kidney cancer treatment called ASONEP. Specifically, the trial is testing the effectiveness of ASONEP for people with metastatic renal cell carcinoma (RCC) who were previously but unsuccessfully treated with at least one “VEGF inhibitor” drug (like Sutent, aka sunitinib) and no more than one “mTOR inhibitor” drug (like Afinitor, aka everolimus), with a maximum of three unsuccessful previous treatments overall. The clinical trial is ongoing, but interim results show that ASONEP is safe and hasn’t caused serious side effects. The researchers also said the drug appeared to show promise as a cancer-fighting treatment.
“Lpath, Inc. (NASDAQ: LPTN), the industry leader in bioactive lipid-targeted therapeutics, reported interim results in a Phase 2a single-arm, open-label trial where ASONEP™ is being investigated as a treatment for metastatic renal cell carcinoma (RCC) in patients that have failed at least one therapy involving a VEGF inhibitor (e.g., Sutent®/ sunitinib maleate) and no more than one mTOR inhibitor (e.g., Afinitor®/everolimus), with a maximum of three failed treatments in all. This patient population is considered “last line,” and the literature suggests cancer progression in this population within a one-to-two month time frame.
“Lpath has enrolled 26 patients in the study. ASONEP has a favorable safety profile thus far, with no serious adverse events (SAEs) deemed to be drug-related.
“The first 17 patients were initiated at a dose of 15 mg/kg. Of these “lower-dose” patients: 7 had progressive disease at or before the end of four months; 8 were progression-free at the four-month mark (with 1 of these patients deemed a partial responder per Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors (RECIST) criteria and with 3 of these patients experiencing reduced tumor volume, but not enough to be categorized as a RECIST-based partial responder); and 2 exited the study due to SAEs unrelated to the drug prior to the four-month mark (and are not considered evaluable). Notably, of the 8 patients that were stable or better as of month four, 2 are now in their fifteenth month on the study, 1 is in month thirteen, and 1 is in month ten. An additional patient was stable through month seven, but then missed six treatments during a vacation, and shortly thereafter progressed.”
Editor’s note: Researchers conducted a clinical trial with volunteer patients to compare two drugs for kidney cancer: everolimus (aka Afinitor) and sunitinib (aka Sutent). The results showed that sunitinib is more effective as a first-line treatment for people diagnosed with metastatic renal cell carcinoma (mRCC). The standard treatment already widely prescribed to mRCC patients is sunitinib or a similar drug, followed by everolimus if the disease worsens. Oncologists wondered if everolimus could be a first-line therapy for mRCC, but it appears that the current standard is the better choice.
“Everolimus (Afinitor, Novartis) is not as effective as sunitinib (Sutent, Pfizer) in the first-line setting for patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma, and it has a different toxicity profile, according to a phase 2 randomized direct comparator trial.
“The study, known as RECORD-3, was published online July 21 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
” ‘The hope was that everolimus would be better tolerated and as good as sunitinib in first-line treatment,’ said lead investigator Robert Motzer, MD, attending physician in the genitourinary oncology service at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and professor of medicine at Weill Medical College at Cornell University in New York City.
“However, ‘in first-line therapy, the efficacy of sunitinib appeared to be better than everolimus. It is clear that sunitinib remains the standard first-line therapy,’ he explained.
” ‘The current paradigm of sunitinib followed by everolimus at progression should be maintained. The experimental sequence of everolimus first followed by sunitinib second did not appear to be as effective,’ Dr. Motzer reported.”
“Some patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma (mRCC) who are switched from a traditional sunitinib treatment schedule to an alternative schedule fare better on survival measures and suffer fewer adverse events, a Japanese study has found.
“The switch from traditional to alternative schedules was recently found to be effective. But, ‘Japanese patients with mRCC experience substantially different [adverse events] than do patients in many other nations, presumably because of underlying genetic differences’, the authors write.
“They retrospectively reviewed the medical records of 54 patients with mRCC who received sunitinib treatment as first-line therapy between May 2006 and June 2012.”
“Positron emission tomography (PET) could be used to predict the response of metastatic renal cell carcinoma (mRCC) to tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) therapy within a couple of weeks of a patient beginning treatment, research suggests.
“Changes in volume-based metabolic parameters of 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) before and after 14 days of treatment with sunitinib, sorafenib or pazopanib significantly correlated with progression-free and overall survival, say Jacob Farnebo (Karokinska University Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden) and co-authors.”
Editor’s note: Doctors and patients can make more informed treatment decisions if they can more closely monitor how well a treatment is working and predict how well it is likely to work in the long run. This story discusses how monitoring with positron emission tomography (PET) within the first couple of weeks of treatment might help predict how well certain drugs will work. PET scanning produces 3-D images of the inside of the body. Scientists conducted a study in which they gave PET scans to volunteer patients who were being treated with the drugs sunitinib, sorafenib, or pazopanib for metastatic renal cell carcinoma (mRCC). They found that, within two weeks of the patients starting treatment, they could use information from the PET scans to determine the effectiveness of the treatment. They were able to link these PET scan results to how long the patients lived and how much time passed before patients’ disease worsened.
Blocking a protein that protects tumor cells may shrink melanomas, according to results from an ongoing trial that were presented at the 10th International Congress of the Society for Melanoma Research in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Called PD-L1, the protein shields tumor cells from the immune system and it can be blocked by a drug called MPDL3280A. The phase I trial included 45 people with melanoma who were treated with the PD-L1 blocker, and tumors shrank in one-third of them. This PD-L1 blocker is also being tested in a phase I trial in combination with the BRAF inhibitor drug vemurafenib, as well as in several phase II trials against renal cell carcinoma and non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). In addition, two drugs similar to this PD-L1 blocker (nivolumab and MK-3475) are being tested in phase III trials against melanoma.