ASCO: Many Cancer Patients Interested in Genetic Profiling

“Many patients with cancer are interested in comprehensive tumor genetic profiling (CGP), and most are willing to pay out-of-pocket costs for CGP, according to a study scheduled for presentation at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, to be held from May 29 to June 2 in Chicago.

“Julie Innocent, M.D., from the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, and colleagues recruited 88 patients of diverse cancer histology to complete a survey in order to explore patient interest and willingness to pay out of pocket for CGP. The researchers specifically examined interest in CGP only if covered by insurance versus interest conditional on paying an out-of-pocket cost.”


Scientists Unveil Prostate Cancer's 'Rosetta Stone'

“Almost 90 per cent of men with advanced prostate cancer carry genetic mutations in their tumours that could be targeted by either existing or new cancer drugs, a landmark new study reveals.

“Scientists in the UK and the US have created a comprehensive map of the genetic within lethal that have spread around the body, in a paper being hailed as the disease’s ‘Rosetta Stone’.

“Researchers say that doctors could now start testing for these ‘clinically actionable’ mutations and give patients with advanced prostate existing drugs or drug combinations targeted at these specific genomic aberrations in their cancers.

“The study was led in the UK by scientists at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, in collaboration with researchers from eight academic clinical trials centres around the world.”

 


A Blood Test for Early Detection of Breast Cancer Metastasis

“The chances of being cured of breast cancer have increased in recent decades, however if the tumour has metastasised, the disease remains essentially incurable. One reason for this could be that the metastases are detected late, after they have grown enough to cause symptoms or be seen on a radiological scan. If they could be found sooner, it might be possible to treat the new tumours. Research findings from Lund University in Sweden now provide new hope for a way of detecting metastases significantly earlier than is currently possible.

“The discovery was made by a research team led by Lao Saal, M.D. Ph.D, and is based on what is known as cell-free circulating DNA – small fragments of genetic material from different cells which circulate in the blood. It is normal to have low amounts of such DNA material in the blood, but in the case of diseases such as cancer, these amounts can increase. Furthermore, in cancer patients, the circulating DNA contains the genetic mutations which are specific to the tumor.

“Lao Saal and his colleagues used previously gathered material from a breast cancer study which has been underway in Lund since 2002. The material contained samples from surgically removed tumours from patients with non-metastatic disease as well as blood samples taken from the patients at regular intervals during the years in which they were followed up.”


Tumor Sequencing Study Highlights Benefits of Profiling Healthy Tissue as Well

“As the practice of genetically profiling patient tumors for clinical treatment decision making becomes more commonplace, a recent study from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center suggests that profiling normal DNA also provides an important opportunity to identify inherited mutations that could be critical for patients and their families.

“Preliminary findings from this ongoing study will be presented by Funda Meric-Bernstam, M.D., professor and chair, Investigational Cancer Therapeutics, on June 1 at the American Society for Clinical Oncology 2015 Annual Meeting in Chicago.

“The MD Anderson research team sequenced tumor and normal DNA from patients with advanced cancer, with the goal of sharing results with patients to better educate them going forward. Sequencing normal tissue is not routinely done in the research environment, but comparing tumor versus normal DNA can distinguish between germline, or inherited, mutations and those found only in the tumor.”


Super Patient: Genetic Testing Gives Lisa Goldman a Targeted Treatment for Lung Cancer


In October 2013, Lisa Goldman had a dry cough that wouldn’t go away. “It was bad enough that I went to the doctor, which I don’t do very often,” she says. He ordered a chest radiograph, said her lungs were clear, prescribed codeine cough syrup, and sent her home.

But she kept coughing, so she kept coming back. On her second visit, her doctor said her airways were irritated and prescribed an inhaler and antibiotics. By her third visit, she’d begun to cough up a bit of blood, but her doctor just repeated that her airways were irritated and prescribed steroids. Continue reading…


Pfizer Drug Shows Early Promise in Xalkori-Resistant Lung Cancer-Study

“An experimental Pfizer Inc drug that aims to help lung cancer patients with specific genetic mutations who have stopped responding to the company’s Xalkori was showing promise in a small, early stage study, according to preliminary data revealed on Wednesday.

“The ongoing Phase I trial of the drug, PF-3922, was designed to determine if there is a maximum tolerable dose and which dose or doses to test in future larger trials.

“But researchers found some early evidence of efficacy, according to a brief summary of the study that will be presented at the upcoming American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO)meeting in Chicago later this month.

“Of 15 patients evaluated for efficacy, six, or 40 percent, had partial responses, meaning tumor shrinkage of at least 30 percent. Intracranial responses were observed in five patients, indicating that the drug had successfully crossed the blood/brain barrier to attack tumors in the brain, which are common in advanced, or metastatic, lung cancer.

” ‘There’s encouraging clinical activity despite that it’s an early study,’ said Ronit Simantov, head of medical affairs for Pfizer oncology.”


Removal of Ovaries Decreases Death from Breast Cancer Associated with BRCA1 Mutation

“Removal of the ovaries, a procedure known as an oophorectomy, was associated with a 62 percent reduction in breast cancer death in women diagnosed with breast cancer and carrying a BRCA1 gene mutation, according to an article published online by JAMA Oncology.

“Women who carry a germline mutation in either the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene face a lifetime risk of breast cancer of up to 70 percent. Once they are diagnosed with breast cancer, they face high risks of both second primary breast and ovarian cancers. Other studies of BRCA gene mutation carriers have reported reduced mortality associated with oophorectomy for women with a history of breast cancer, according to the study background.

“Steven A. Narod, M.D., and Kelly Metcalfe, Ph.D., of the Women’s College Research Institute, Toronto, Canada, and coauthors sought to confirm these earlier observations in a group of women with BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations and early-stage breast cancer. Their study included 676 women, of whom 345 underwent oophorectomy after being diagnosed with breast cancer, while 331 women retained both ovaries.”


Drugs That Work in Melanomas with BRAF Mutation Also Work in Lung Cancers with Same Mutation

“A subset of lung cancer patients can derive important clinical benefits from drugs that are more commonly used to treat melanoma, the authors of a new academic clinical trial in Europe have reported at the European Lung Cancer Conference (ELCC) in Geneva, Switzerland.

“Dr. Oliver Gautschi, a medical oncologist from Lucern Cantonal Hospital in Switzerland, presented the results of the retrospective EURAF cohort study, which included lung cancer patients whose tumours carried specific mutations in the BRAF gene. The study was conducted by a network of European oncologists, without company involvement.

“BRAF mutations are commonly seen in melanoma patients, and are found in about 2% of lung adenocarcinomas, Gautschi explains. Several inhibitors of the B-Raf protein, including vemurafenib and dabrafenib, have been developed for use in melanoma patients, however there is currently no approved drug for BRAF-mutant lung cancer.

“As a result, experience with B-Raf inhibitors in lung cancer remains limited. ‘In the current study, we wanted to find out how many patients in Europe received B-Raf inhibitors outside of a clinical trial, and what their outcomes were,’ Gautschi says.

“The EURAF study gathered information on 35 lung cancer patients who had been identified as carrying BRAF mutations, who were treated with B-Raf inhibitors between 2012 and 2014.”


Yale Launches National Study of Personalized Medicine for Metastatic Melanoma

“Yale University has launched a multicenter clinical trial, sponsored by Stand Up to Cancer and Melanoma Research Alliance, that will apply the latest in personalized medicine technology to treat metastatic melanoma. The trial, for which Yale is a lead site, will enroll patients lacking a particular genetic mutation for whom immune therapy did not work or was not an option.

“Metastatic melanoma is a type of cancer that has spread from the skin to other parts of the body, most frequently the lungs, muscle, and liver. It is the most advanced and deadly type of melanoma, and notoriously difficult to treat.

” ‘Metastatic melanoma is one of those cancers for which we have distressingly few treatment options after immune therapy has failed,’ said Patricia M. LoRusso, associate director of Innovative Medicine at Yale Cancer Center and national co-principal investigator of the Melanoma Dream Team. ‘This partnership of cancer centers, research organizations, and industry offers the best chance we’ve had in long time to find solutions for melanoma patients. We think the personalized medicine approach is the way forward.’ “