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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Patient Advocates Join Researchers to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities

Cancer patient advocates take on many roles in their communities. They may go out to churches to promote the benefits of cancer screening, lead patient and survivor support groups, or offer a patient’s perspective on review panels that evaluate research grants. Many times, an experience with cancer pushes people to accept advocacy roles to fill some unmet need or simply to give back.

All of these efforts were on display at this year’s American Association for Cancer Research Conference on the Science of Cancer Health Disparities in Racial/Ethnic Minorities and the Medically Underserved in New Orleans Nov. 2-5. Opening the conference, 10 patient survivors and caregivers of various ethnicities and types of cancers took to the stage to describe how cancer has changed them and what cancer research has given them personally.

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CAR-T Cells: “Bionic” Immune Cells for Treating Cancer

In the 1970s television series The Six Million Dollar Man, the narrator says of severely injured astronaut Steve Austin: “We can rebuild him. We have the technology. We can make him better than he was. Better, stronger, faster.” The narrator was referring to “bionic” technologies that provided higher visual acuity, stunning strength, and the ability to run at speeds greater than 60 miles per hour.

Over the past few years, cancer immunologists have achieved a comparable feat. They have taken T cells—the immune cells capable of destroying infectious agents, foreign cells, and cancers—and rebuilt them to be better than they were, better at recognizing and killing cancer cells.

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AACR CEO Receives Women for Oncology Award

On Friday, Margaret Foti, PhD, MD (hc), chief executive officer of the American Association for Cancer Research, was honored with the 2018 European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) Women for Oncology Award for her role in supporting the career development of women in oncology.

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FDA Approves a New PARP Inhibitor for BRCA-mutant Breast Cancer

In the midst of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the US. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) provided good news for the breast cancer community this week when it approved a new breast cancer therapeutic called talazoparib (Talzenna), which targets ADP-ribose polymerase (PARP) proteins. They also approved a test to identify those patients eligible to receive talazoparib: patients with metastatic or locally advanced, HER2-negative breast cancer who have an inherited, cancer-associated BRCA1 or BRCA2 (BRCA1/2) mutation.

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Foti Meets with Israeli President, Discusses Cancer’s Global Impact

On Sunday, Margaret Foti, PhD, MD (hc), chief executive officer of the AACR, met with the president of Israel, Reuven Rivlin, at his residence in Jerusalem.

Foti has had a long, fruitful relationship with the Israeli cancer community. Her meeting with Rivlin and First Lady Nechama Rivlin was coordinated by longtime friend and colleague Miri Ziv, the Director General of the Israel Cancer Association.

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Three New Cancer Treatments Approved by the FDA

Last week saw a flurry of new anticancer therapeutics approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treating several types of cancer. On Monday, Sept. 24, the agency approved the molecularly targeted therapeutic duvelisib (Copiktra) for treating certain patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) or small lymphocytic lymphoma (SLL), and for treating certain patients with follicular lymphoma. On Thursday, Sept. 27, it approved another molecularly targeted therapeutic—dacomitinib (Vizimpro)—for treating certain patients with non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Then, on Friday, Sept. 28, it approved the immunotherapeutic cemiplimab-rwlc (Libtayo) for treating certain patients with cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma.

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