Taking Aim at Tobacco: Highlights From Annual Meeting Symposium

The tobacco product landscape is evolving and the AACR Tobacco Products and Cancer Subcommittee has been cognizant of the shift from combusted products (e.g., cigarettes) to alternative nicotine delivery systems, such as e-cigarettes. While it is generally accepted that e-cigarettes are safer than traditional cigarettes, these products still present risks and the AACR has been active in trying to keep children from having access to them.

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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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NIH-AACR Conference Explores Intersection of Cancer, Autoimmunity, and Immunology

Although checkpoint inhibitors and other immunotherapies are remarkably effective for patients with some cancers, demonstrating durable antitumor activity and/or high response rates, they are not risk-free. Reports of immune-related adverse events (therapy-dependent toxicities caused by non-specific activation of the immune system) surfaced early in development for ipilimumab and accompany all approved immunotherapies.

The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) will join the National Cancer Institute (NCI), National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases to convene the NIH-AACR Cancer, Autoimmunity, and Immunology Conference on April 15-16, 2019, in the Masur Auditorium on the National Institutes of Health campus in Bethesda, Maryland.

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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: The Biden Cancer Initiative

Like many Americans, Dr. Jill Biden has been personally affected by cancer. Friends, her parents, and her son Beau have all died of the disease, fueling her desire to fight for better treatments.

She and her husband, former Vice President Joe Biden, established the Biden Cancer Initiative to build upon the work begun as part of the Cancer Moonshot Initiative in 2016. Dr. Biden attended the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting 2019 on Sunday to share some of the progress that has been made, and to discuss how collaboration will be important in securing future progress.

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AACR Annual Meeting 2019: NCI Leaders Praise Progress and Collaboration

Two of the nation’s preeminent leaders in cancer research and policy took the stage Sunday morning at the Opening Ceremony of the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting 2019.

Norman “Ned” Sharpless, MD, FAACR, and Douglas R. Lowy, MD, discussed recent progress against cancer from the vantage point of the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Sharpless has served as director of the NCI since October 2017, and will soon leave the agency to become acting commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Lowy will take over as NCI acting director, a position he held from 2015-2017.

Sharpless and Lowy discussed the rapid pace of progress in cancer care, drug development, clinical trials, and research funding over the past few years, and vowed to continue the momentum in their new roles in Washington, D.C.  

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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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Stakeholder Perspectives on Non-clinical Models for Immuno-Oncology Products

On September 6, 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the American Association for Cancer Research hosted a public workshop, Non-clinical Models for Safety Assessment of Immuno-Oncology Products. Academics, industry, regulators, and biomedical research funders gathered to review the state of the science and discuss opportunities to develop better non-clinical approaches for safety assessment and dose selection for immuno-oncology products in patients, with specific focus on immune checkpoint stimulators and inhibitors (ICS/ICI).

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