Cancer Research Blog

Bringing You the Latest in the Search For a Cure

Month: March 2015

FDA Approves Lenvatinib for Radioactive Iodine-Refractory Thyroid Cancer

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved lenvatinib (Lenvima) to treat some patients with the most common type of thyroid cancer, differentiated thyroid cancer (DTC). The approval is for patients with DTC whose disease has progressed following radioactive iodine therapy (radioactive iodine-refractory disease).

Although the incidence of thyroid cancer has increased slowly over the past two decades, mortality rates have been relatively steady. In 2014, an estimated 62,980 Americans were diagnosed with thyroid cancer and 1,890 died from the disease.

Special Spotlight: Widely Acclaimed Cancer Disparities Researcher, Claudia R. Baquet, MD, MPH, Retires from University of Maryland Baltimore School of Medicine

Claudia R. Baquet, MD, MPH, an internationally recognized expert in cancer health disparity research and a former NCI/CRCHD grantee, recently announced her retirement from the University of Maryland Baltimore (UMB) School of Medicine, where she served as Associate Dean for Policy and Planning. Dr. Baquet has dedicated her professional career to reducing health disparities. During her twenty years at UMB, she advocated tirelessly for quality health care and related issues for underserved communities, was a mentor to numerous students and faculty, and was instrumental in engaging communities in cancer research.

 “Dr. Baquet leaves a huge footprint in the science of cancer health disparities, community-based research. She was instrumental in breaking down barriers in the science community, between research and policy groups, and within local communities that experience health disparities,” said NCI/CRCHD director Dr. Sanya A. Springfield. “Health disparities, in fact, were not even nationally recognized when she entered the field.”

Conference Report: Pursuing Progress Against HIV-Related Cancers

At the recent annual Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) in Seattle, several NCI researchers and NCI-funded investigators presented new findings on HIV-related cancers.

While the conference was fairly wide-ranging, some of the more interesting and clinically applicable findings evolved around a better understanding of AIDS-related malignancies, explained Robert Yarchoan, M.D., director of the Office of AIDS and HIV Malignancy in NCI’s Center for Cancer Research.

Smoking’s Disease Burden: Worse than Previously Thought?

Smoking cigarettes may be even worse for your health than previously thought, according to findings from a new study.

The latest U.S. Surgeon General’s Report on smoking estimates that smoking causes 480,000 deaths annually in the United States. The new study, published February 12 in the New England Journal of Medicine, suggests that smoking may be responsible for an additional 60,000 to 120,000 deaths each year.

FDA Approves Panobinostat for Some Patients with Multiple Myeloma

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted accelerated approval of panobinostat (Farydak) for the treatment of patients with multiple myeloma whose cancer has progressed after treatment with at least two prior standard therapies. Panobinostat is a type of drug called a histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor. The approval is for use of panobinostat in combination with bortezomib (Velcade) and dexamethasone.

The approval was based on the findings in a subgroup of 193 patients who participated in a clinical trial called PANORAMA1. Patients in the trial had myeloma that had returned after prior treatment or that did not respond to treatment after a recurrence; they were randomly assigned to receive a combination of panobinostat, bortezomib, and dexamethasone or bortezomib and dexamethasone alone.

DNA “Minicircles” Could Improve Cancer Detection, Study Suggests

Injecting tiny customized DNA “rings” into tumor-bearing mice caused the tumor cells to release a detectable biomarker into the blood, according to a new study by researchers from the Stanford University School of Medicine.

The biomarker could be detected with a simple blood test as early as 48 hours after the mice were injected with the customized DNA rings, called DNA minicircles. Mice without tumors that were injected with the DNA minicircles did not have appreciable amounts of the biomarker in their blood. The proof-of-principle study was published February 23 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

FDA Approves First Immunotherapy Treatment for Lung Cancer

On March 4, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved nivolumab (Opdivo) to treat patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) that has progressed during or after treatment with platinum-based chemotherapy.

Nivolumab, which was initially approved for the treatment of metastatic melanoma, is the first immunotherapy drug to be approved to treat lung cancer. It works by inhibiting a protein receptor called PD-1 on T cells, a type of immune cell.

Who Will Respond to PD-1 Inhibition? Study Provides Clues

Specific DNA changes in a tumor may help determine which patients are most likely to respond to treatment with PD-1 inhibitors, according to findings from a new study by researchers at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

The FDA has approved two PD-1 inhibitors: nivolumab (Opvido) and pembrolizumab (Keytruda). Both are part of a class of immunotherapy drugs known as checkpoint inhibitors.

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