Many Oncologists Say Drugs Aimed At Disabling Proteins Are The Future Of Cancer Therapies.
The New York Times reported that "drugs aimed at disabling proteins that spur cancer are, many oncologists say, the future of cancer therapies." However, "these so-called targeted therapies are only as good as tests to find their protein targets." The article also discusses HER2 tests and the "HER2 testing guidelines by the College of American Pathology and the American Society of Clinical Oncology," which dictate "criteria for declaring a test positive or negative and requiring proficiency testing, among other things."
Diabetes Drug May Help Reduce Lung Tumors.
The Los Angeles Times "Booster Shots" blog reported, "Metformin, a safe and inexpensive drug widely used to lower blood glucose in type 2 diabetics, may have a variety of other uses, researchers are finding." For example, "at an American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting on genitourinary cancers last month, Dr. Cristiano Ferrario, of McGill University in Montreal, Canada, reported that metformin could inhibit the growth of prostate cancer cells in the laboratory." The latest discovery involved lung cancer prevention and researchers at the National Cancer Institute.
The group "treated mice with metformin for 13 weeks after exposing them to a chemical derived from nicotine," HealthDay reported. "The drug reduced lung tumors by 40 percent to 50 percent when given by mouth and by 72 percent when given by injection." Lead Researcher Dr. Phillip A. Dennis "said the levels of the drug given to mice would be easy to reach in humans."
Statins May Not Lower Risk Of Colorectal Cancer.
HealthDay reported that "statins don't lower the risk of colorectal cancer, and may even increase the chances of developing precancerous polyps," according to a study published in the journal Cancer Prevention Research. The investigators "found that patients who had been in the placebo group and who used statins at any time were no less likely to develop adenomas over a five-year period, compared with those patients who never used statins." Among "those who took statins for three years or longer, the chances of developing the adenomas were nearly 40 percent higher than those not on statins."
Tailored Treatment Based On Tumor's Molecular Traits May Improve Lung Cancer Survival.
The Wall Street Journal reports that tailoring treatment based on a tumor's molecular features may improve survival in lung cancer patients, according to a study called Biomarker-Integrated Approaches of Targeted Therapy for Lung Cancer Elimination (BATTLE) presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research.
The patients' "tumor samples were tested for cancer biomarkers, including mutations to a gene called KRAS and EGFR, or epidermal growth factor receptor, a cell-signaling protein that causes cancer cells to grow and divide." Some patients were "assigned to one of four drugs without regard to their biomarkers." Other patients "were assigned to drugs based on their particular tumor biomarkers, taking into consideration how people in the first group with similar biomarkers were faring."
The Houston Chronicle reports that altogether, the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center researchers "found 46 percent of patients gained 'disease control,' nonprogression of a tumor seen as an indicator of survival, after two months of targeted treatment, compared with untargeted therapy's 30 percent disease control rate in advanced lung cancer patients historically."
Certain drug-tumor match-ups seemed especially effective. One of the best -- and somewhat surprising -- results came when Nexavar [sorafenib] was used in conjunction with a KRAS mutation. In that case, 61 percent of patients treated had disease control at two months. Meanwhile, "the rate for patients with a KRAS mutation who got one of the other drugs was just 32 percent."
FDA Okays Tarceva As Initial Maintenance Treatment For Most Common Form Of Lung Cancer.
OSI Pharmaceuticals Inc. won approval from US regulators to expand the use of its Tarceva [erlotinib] drug as an initial maintenance treatment for the most common form of lung cancer. In 2004, the drug "was approved...for patients whose non-small lung cancer...gets worse after chemotherapy." Yet, "Tarceva received a positive opinion in March for use as first-line maintenance from the European Union's Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use." Notably, a panel of outside advisers voted against approving the drug for such use, because they maintained patients experienced moderate gains,
Other Gene Mutations May Inhibit Colon Cancer Drug's Effectiveness.
Amgen Inc.'s Vectibix [panitumumab], a drug for colon cancer, may be useful to even fewer patients who suffer from that illness than scientists previously found," according to a new study. "Previous research showed that Vectibix doesn't work in about 40 percent of colon cancer patients who have certain mutations in a gene called K-RAS." The new company-funded analysis, however, "found that an additional 14 percent have other gene variations that also keep them from being helped by the drug."
Those who carry a mutated version of NRAS failed to benefit from the drug. Investigators also implicated a second gene -- BRAF -- but further study is warranted. Now, says Amgen's Dr. David Reese, "We have to identify the patient population that will benefit from the drug."