Experts Forecast Cancer Research and Treatment Advances in 2019

In 2018, we witnessed significant momentum in several hot areas of cancer research, including immunotherapy and precision medicine. Researchers have amassed exponential amounts of knowledge in these areas of scientific inquiry in recent years, and 2018 saw many of these gains culminate into innovative treatments for cancer patients.

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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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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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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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September Editors’ Picks from AACR Journals

As a monthly feature on this blog, we spotlight the 10 articles selected by our editors from each journal issue published by the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR). These journals feature original articles spanning the continuum of cancer research, from basic science discoveries to patient care.

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Understanding Immunotherapy Side Effects

Treatment with checkpoint inhibitors is often billed as gentler than chemotherapy—and it is true that immunotherapy doesn’t come with the same acute side effects, such as hair loss, characteristic of many chemotherapy drugs. But checkpoint inhibitors are not without side effects.

In a story published in the summer 2018 issue of Cancer Today, digital editor Kate Yandell discusses what is known about checkpoint inhibitor side effects and how to spot and treat them.

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