National Cancer Institute NCI Cancer Bulletin: A Trusted Source for Cancer Research News
June 29, 2010 • Volume 7 / Number 13

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Fourth Telephone Workshop for Cancer Survivors Slated for July 13

The final telephone workshop in NCI’s annual “Living With, Through, and Beyond Cancer” series will be held July 13 from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. EDT. Part IV of the series is titled “Survivors Too: Communicating With and Among Family, Friends and Loved Ones.”

The free series offers cancer survivors, their families, friends, and health care professionals practical information to help them cope with concerns and issues that arise after treatment ends. The workshops are presented by CancerCare, in collaboration with NCI, LIVESTRONG, the Intercultural Cancer Council, Living Beyond Breast Cancer, and the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship.

Speakers for the July 13 workshop include Suzanne Martz-Dones of Montefiore Medical Center, Dr. Laurel Northouse of the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, and Dr. Frances Lewis of the University of Washington.

These workshops are free; no phone charges apply. To register, visit the CancerCare Web site.

If you missed parts I, II, or III of the series, recordings are available online via podcast.

NCI Program Will Aid Development and Validation of Trial Assays

NCI’s Division of Cancer Treatment and Diagnosis has established a new program called the Clinical Assay Development Program (CADP) to aid the development and validation of clinical assays used in clinical trials. These assays are often integral components of phase III and large phase II clinical trials. NCI has issued a request for proposals (RFP) to identify laboratories that can help in the development of these assays.

The laboratories that enroll in this program must have expertise in one or more of the following technologies: immunohistochemistry (IHC), enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), in situ hybridization, quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), quantitative PCR, and DNA sequencing. Additional technologies may be required in the future.

Using reference sets of specimens, the labs that will comprise the clinical assay development network will assess reproducibility, robustness, inter- and intra-laboratory variability, and other relevant measures of assay performance and utility.

NCI’s Program for the Assessment of Clinical Cancer Tests (PACCT) has contributed significantly to progress in the field of biomarker development and clinical application. More information is available about this program and how to access the RFP, which closes on July 23.

Budget, Clinical Trials, and Training Highlighted at NCAB Meeting

The National Cancer Advisory Board’s (NCAB) second meeting of 2010 was held in Bethesda, MD, on June 22–23. NCI Director Dr. John Niederhuber provided an update on the NCI budget, including plans for the fourth quarter of FY2010.

NCAB members also discussed the recent Institute of Medicine report on the National Cancer Clinical Trials System and heard presentations on the NCI Operational Efficiency Working Group and NCI’s training programs.

The agenda and a videocast of the meeting are now available.

NCI Scientists Awarded 2010 Federal Laboratory Consortium Awards

Three NCI technologies and the inventors were awarded the Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer’s (FLC) 2010 Technology of the Year Award on April 29. This award recognizes those who have done an outstanding job in transferring technology developed in a Federal laboratory to partners in the private sector, and is awarded to only a few of the hundreds of Federal laboratories, research centers, and facilities represented by the FLC.

Dr. Donald Court and Nina Costantino of the Gene Regulation and Chromosome Biology Laboratory in NCI’s Center for Cancer Research were recognized for their work in the development of a recombination-mediated genetic engineering, or recombineering, technology. The technology has revolutionized genetic engineering techniques, including modifying genes used for cloning and generating knockout mice where an existing gene is replaced or disrupted in order to study what the gene normally does. Over 1,100 nonprofit researchers have received the technology thus far and it has been licensed to 18 commercial entities.

Dr. Jeffrey Schlom, chief of CCR's Laboratory of Tumor Immunology and Biology, was recognized for his work on a new therapeutic prostate cancer vaccine, PROSTVAC. The vaccine induces a specific, targeted immune response that attacks prostate cancer cells. Numerous clinical trials have shown that the vaccine has a good safety profile and may be an effective option for the treatment of advanced prostate cancer. The vaccine is being developed through a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement and license partnership with BN ImmunoTherapeutics.

Drs. Frederic Kaye, Adi Gazdar, John Minna, and Bruce Johnson, formerly of CCR’s Genetics Branch, were recognized for their contributions toward the development of a cell line bank of approximately 439 human tumors. The cell lines contain a mutation that makes them sensitive to the presence of growth-inhibiting drugs and are valuable research tools for identifying compounds with therapeutic potential against cancer. These cell lines have been the subject of more licenses than any other biological material at NCI and can be used by scientists to screen thousands of compounds for anticancer activity.

Finally, as noted earlier this year, CCR Director Dr. Robert H. Wiltrout was named FLC’s Lab Director of the Year and received the award at the FLC national meeting on April 29.

PARADE Magazine Spotlights Cancer in America

The cover of the June 20 PARADE magazine

On June 20, PARADE magazine devoted its weekly edition to a special report on cancer. Among those contributing to the periodical was NIH Director, Dr. Francis Collins. His article, entitled “The Cancer You Can Beat,” highlights scientific progress against colorectal cancer.

PARADE is a staple in over 500 newspapers across the United States, reaching about 32 million Americans each Sunday.

NCI and Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences Host caBIG Workshop

On June 22, NCI held an educational workshop showcasing efforts to share biomedical data among institutions in the United States and China featuring NCI’s cancer Biomedical Informatics Grid (caBIG). The NCI Center for Bioinformatics and NCI’s Office of China Cancer Programs (OCCP) led the workshop planning for the Institute. The workshop took place in Beijing and was hosted by the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences (CAMS).

Dr. Kenneth Buetow, director of NCI’s Center for Biomedical Informatics and Information Technology (CBIIT), delivered a welcome address by video message. John Speakman, associate director of Clinical Products and Programs for CBIIT, and Sorena Nadaf, director of Translational Informatics at UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, discussed how caBIG tools are used to manage clinical trial and biospecimen data.

In addition to an introduction to caBIG, attendees learned about national data sharing efforts in China led by CAMS, joint initiatives planned between Peking Union Medical College and UCSF, and a collaborative clinical research study between Duke University and Peking University that is using caBIG tools to support data exchange and analysis. Participants also discussed opportunities for implementing new U.S.–China cooperation using caBIG tools in scientific areas, including cancer epidemiology and biobanking. Dr. Julie Schneider, OCCP Program Director, noted, “Developing technical platforms through initiatives such as caBIG to encourage a culture of biomedical data sharing is critical to advancing research partnerships between scientists working in the United States, China, and around the world.”

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