New Studies May Aid Movement Toward Targeted
Three new studies highlight advancements being made toward individualized molecular classification of specific cancers and the potential for more targeted therapy. Two studies released in advance online publications of Science and the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) identified mutations of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) gene in certain non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients that render their tumors sensitive to the drug gefitinib (Iressa). In the third study, published in the April 29 NEJM, investigators reported that they had identified a six-gene "signature" using microarray analysis that can be used to predict the response of diffuse large-B-cell lymphoma patients to standard chemotherapy.
Gefitinib was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last May as a third-line therapy for NSCLC, which accounts for 85 percent of lung cancer cases. However, previous clinical trials testing gefitinib have shown significant variability in response rates. For example, 10 percent of patients responded to gefitinib in a clinical trial with mostly patients of European ancestry, whereas a 27.5 percent response rate was demonstrated in a clinical trial with solely Japanese patients. Read more
Conference Affirms Priorities, Strategies for 2015
"An investment in knowledge," said Benjamin Franklin, "always pays the best interest." Perhaps without officially proclaiming it, this has been the cancer community's mantra. We have made a tremendous investment in learning as much as we can about cancer and it has paid untold returns. We have amassed enough knowledge that I believe we now have the edge on this disease: We have a distinct understanding of the process by which it develops and becomes lethal and, more importantly, we have learned its vulnerabilities. And every day that store of knowledge grows, amassing more power.
This was part of the message I delivered during an intriguing and exciting meeting last week, the Milken Institute Global Conference. Nearly 2,000 leaders from the worlds of business, public and foreign policy, academia, and other arenas participated. Along with some of America's most brilliant medical minds, including Nobel Laureates Drs. David Baltimore and Lee Hartwell, I had the honor of participating in five panels that all shared a common theme: identifying the steps that must be taken to make important, needed advances in medical care. Cancer was the focus of several of these sessions. Read more