Karen Honey, PhD

As senior managing editor, science communications, Karen Honey, PhD, helps the AACR communicate scientific information to the public and educate the public about the importance of lifesaving cancer research. Before joining the AACR, Honey spent eight years working as an editor for two peer-reviewed scientific journals, first Nature Reviews Immunology and then The Journal of Clinical Investigation. During this time, she focused on communicating scientific discoveries to readers with all levels of knowledge, from the lay reader to the scientific expert. Before entering the world of science communication, Honey was a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of world-renowned immunologist Alexander Rudensky. She was born in the United Kingdom and received her doctorate in transplantation immunology from the University of Oxford. Honey currently lives in the Philadelphia suburbs.

Use of Pembrolizumab Expanded to 13th Type of Cancer in Five Years

The use of immunotherapy in the treatment of cancer has dramatically increased in the five years since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) first approved the groundbreaking immunotherapeutic pembrolizumab (Keytruda). Since that September 2014 approval, for melanoma, pembrolizumab has been approved for use in the treatment of another 12 types of cancer, most recently endometrial cancer, and the treatment of any type of solid tumor that tests positive for either of two specific biomarkers, microsatellite instability–high or mismatch repair–deficient.

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Second Targeted Therapeutic Approved for Use Based on Tumor Biomarker, Not Tumor Origin

Last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the second of a new wave of molecularly targeted therapeutics that can be used to treat patients with any type of cancer provided their tumor tests positive for a specific biomarker.

The therapeutic in question, entrectinib (Rozlytrek), was approved for treating adults and adolescents age 12 and older whose cancers have an NTRK gene fusion and who have no other effective treatment options.

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FDA Approvals Provide Advances for a Range of Cancer Types

During late spring and early summer, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved four new molecularly targeted therapeutics—alpelisib (Piqray), polatuzumab vedotin-piiq (Polivy), selinexor (Xpovio), and darolutamide (Nubeqa)—for treating certain patients with a wide array of cancer types. Molecularly targeted therapeutics are the cornerstone of precision oncology. So, this flurry of approvals highlights that progress in this important area of cancer care is continuing unabated.

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FDA Approvals Provide New Advances Against Bladder, Lung, and Kidney Cancer

During late March and early April, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) made several decisions that have increased the number of treatment options for certain patients with bladder, lung, and kidney cancer. On March 18, 2019, the agency approved the immunotherapeutic atezolizumab (Tecentriq) for treating certain patients with small-cell lung cancer (SCLC). On April 12, 2019, it approved a new molecularly targeted therapeutic—erdafitinib (Balversa)—for treating certain patients with bladder cancer. Then, on April 19, 2019, it approved the immunotherapeutic pembrolizumab (Keytruda) for treating certain patients with kidney cancer.

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AACR Annual Meeting 2019: Past, Present, and Future of CDK4/6-targeted Therapeutics

Therapeutics that target two proteins called cyclin-dependent kinase 4 (CDK4) and CDK6 have revolutionized treatment for breast cancer, Richard S. Finn, MD, told attendees of the Making Science Count for Patients: CDK4/6 special session during the recent AACR Annual Meeting 2019. This session was designed to review the progress made with this class of anticancer therapeutics, starting from basic science through preclinical and clinical development, and to look to what we might expect from these agents in the future.

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AACR Annual Meeting 2019: A Record Year for Clinical Trials Presentations

Over the course of AACR Annual Meeting 2019, there were 213 presentations on incredibly exciting clinical trials. This is a record number of clinical trial presentations for an AACR Annual Meeting. The trials presented covered the continuum of cancer treatment, from surgery, to radiotherapy and chemotherapy, to the two newest pillars of cancer care—molecularly targeted therapy and immunotherapy. The final clinical trials plenary session of the Annual Meeting epitomized this diversity by showcasing clinical trials reporting new ways to combine radiotherapy with other types of treatment, and new advances in immunotherapy and molecularly targeted therapy.

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AACR Annual Meeting 2019: PD-1 Pandemonium

“Do you want to have fun?” Richard Pazdur, MD, director of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Oncology Center of Excellence, asked the audience as he opened the “PD-1 Pandemonium: FDA Speaks with Industry on the Past, Present, and Future of PD-1 Drugs” regulatory science and policy session at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting 2019 on Monday, April 1.

Pazdur explained that he and AACR staff in the Science Policy and Government Affairs Office thought that it would be informative to convene representatives from all the companies who have an FDA-approved PD-1– or PD-L1–targeted immunotherapeutic for a heart-to-heart conversation about the past, present, and future of this group of revolutionary cancer treatments.

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AACR Annual Meeting 2019: Preclinical Steps Toward a Cancer Preventive Vaccine for Lynch Syndrome

Cancer prevention refers to measures that people can take to reduce their risk of developing cancer. These measures can include lifestyle changes, like eliminating tobacco use, maintaining a healthy weight, staying active, and limiting exposure of skin to ultraviolet light. As our scientific knowledge of cancer etiology and the biology of premaligancy has grown, so too has our ability to rationally develop targeted and immunotherapeutic interventions for cancer prevention, in particular for those who inherit genetic mutations that predispose them to developing cancer.

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Prostate Cancer Disparities: Race-related Biological Differences

Non-Hispanic black men in the United States are much more likely to develop prostate cancer and to die from the disease than their non-Hispanic white counterparts. Many factors contribute to this striking disparity, including access to and use of health care, social and economic status, and biology. As discussed by Steven R. Patierno, PhD, and colleagues in a recent perspective article in the AACR journal Clinical Cancer Research, alternative RNA splicing is one biological factor contributing to prostate cancer disparities.

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FDA Approves First Immunotherapeutic for Breast Cancer

Last Friday, March 8, 2019, marked another milestone in immuno-oncology: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the first approval of an immunotherapeutic for use in the treatment of breast cancer.

The immunotherapeutic in question is atezolizumab (Tecentriq). It was approved for use in combination with a cytotoxic chemotherapeutic called nab-paclitaxel (Abraxane) for treating adults who have unresectable locally advanced or metastatic triple-negative breast cancer that expresses the protein PD-L1.

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