Carl June, MD, Talks CAR T-cell Therapies at AACR Conference

One of the most watched areas in the immuno-oncology field is the development of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy. Carl June, MD, professor in immunotherapy at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, is a pioneer in the CAR T field; he helped to treat the first child with CAR T-cell therapy, which was experimental at the time. Emily Whitehead, who was treated with CAR T cells in 2012 for acute lymphoblastic leukemia after she relapsed twice following treatment with chemotherapy, remains in complete remission today.

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FDA Approves Three New Treatments for AML

The past two weeks have seen a flurry of U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approvals of new treatments for acute myeloid leukemia (AML). On Nov. 21, 2018, the FDA approved both glasdegib (Daurismo) and venetoclax (Venclexta) for treating patients with newly diagnosed AML who are age 75 or older, or who have chronic health conditions or diseases that prevent them being treated with the standard intensive chemotherapy. A week later, on Nov. 28, 2018, the agency approved gilteritinib (Xospata) for treating patients whose AML tests positive for a mutation in the FLT3 gene.

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Joint Workshop Leads to Recommendations on Novel Drug-Radiation Combinations

Radiotherapy is a mainstay of cancer treatment. In recent years, improved technology has allowed many cancer patients to receive more targeted doses of radiation, which can improve efficacy and spare …

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How Can We Turn “Cold” Pancreatic Tumors “Hot”?

Pancreatic cancer remains a challenging disease to treat, with a five-year survival rate of less than 9 percent, according to recent statistics. Unlike many other cancers, which can now be treated with checkpoint blockade immunotherapy, pancreatic cancer often does not respond to this type of treatment. One potential reason for this lack of efficacy is that pancreatic tumors tend to be nonimmunogenic, meaning that the cancer fails to elicit a strong immune response.

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Inspired By Her Mother, AACR Grantee Embarks on a Career in Cancer Research

Wen-Yang Lin, PhD, MS, currently a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University and the recipient of the 2017 AACR-Genentech Fellowship in Lung Cancer Research, is a relative newcomer to the field of cancer research. Previously, she had studied biomedical engineering at the University of California, Los Angeles and neuroscience at the University of Washington, where her PhD thesis concerned growth control in Drosophila sensory neurons. During this time, Lin’s mother was diagnosed with stage II ovarian cancer. “My mother had been through several rounds of surgeries, tried different combinations of chemotherapies and radiation therapies,” Lin recalls, “but she still passed away only five years after the diagnosis.”

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AACR Journals Editors’ Picks for November

Every month, the editors from the eight scientific journals published by the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) select one “must read” article from each issue. Highlighted research encompasses a wide variety of cancer-related discoveries, including basic scientific investigation and epidemiological studies. Read on to learn about this month’s selections, which are freely accessible for a limited time.

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Malignancy, MSI Status, and the Microbiome

The human microbiome – the collection of bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other microorganisms that live inside and on the surface of our bodies – has garnered significant scientific interest in recent years. The Human Microbiome Project (HMP), which was launched in 2007, seeks to characterize the diverse microbiota to help understand how these microbes impact human health and disease. Initial results from the HMP predict that over 10,000 microbial species coexist within the human ecosystem.

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FDA Approves First Targeted Therapeutic Based on Tumor Biomarker, Not Tumor Origin

On Monday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the highly anticipated approval of the molecularly targeted therapeutic larotrectinib (Vitrakvi) for use based on whether a patient’s tumor tests positive for a specific genetic biomarker and not where in the body the tumor originated.

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FDA Approvals Provide Advances in Precision Medicine and Immunotherapy

During the early part of November, we saw the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approve a new molecularly targeted therapeutic, lorlatinib (Lorbrena), and expand the use of the immunotherapeutic pembrolizumab (Keytruda). These new approvals, which are for the treatment of certain patients with lung cancer and liver cancer, respectively, highlight that progress in the fields of precision medicine and immunotherapy is continuing unabated.

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