Cancer Currents: An NCI Cancer Research Blog
A blog featuring news and research updates from the National Cancer Institute.
- Olanzapine Helps Prevent Nausea and Vomiting Caused by Chemotherapy
A drug currently used to treat several psychiatric conditions can help prevent nausea and vomiting in patients receiving chemotherapy, according to results from a large NCI-funded phase III clinical trial.
Patients in the trial were being treated with chemotherapy agents that often cause substantial nausea and vomiting. Those who were randomly assigned to receive the drug olanzapine (Zyprexa®), given in combination with three standard antiemetic agents (drugs that help prevent nausea and vomiting), were far less likely to experience nausea, have vomiting episodes, or need “rescue” anti-nausea medications to treat nausea/vomiting than patients who received a placebo plus the three antiemetic drugs.
- Anthrax Toxin-Based Cancer Therapy Targets Tumor Blood Vessels
Armed with a greater understanding of the detailed structure and function of the deadly anthrax toxin, scientists have engineered components of the toxin as a potential therapy for solid cancers.
Now, NIH scientists developing the toxin-based therapy have shown that it works by selectively targeting and inhibiting proliferation of cells that line the inside wall of blood vessels that feed tumors and support their growth and spread. When given in combination with two drugs that can block the production of antibodies against the toxin, the treatment greatly suppressed tumor growth in mouse models of lung cancer and melanoma, the researchers reported June 29 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
- 3-D View of Mutations May Identify Potential Targets for Cancer Drugs
A new computational tool may help expand the known number of mutations in cancer cells that could be targeted with new or existing drugs.
Researchers recently reported that the tool, called HotSpot3D, allowed them to model how genetic mutations change the ways proteins function and interact with each other to potentially drive cancer. It also helped them identify more than 800 novel mutations that potentially could be targeted with existing drugs.
- Study Forecasts ‘Silver Tsunami’ of Cancer Survivors
The aging of the U.S. population will result in a substantial increase in the number of older cancer survivors over the next quarter century, particularly those 85 and older, according to a new study by NCI researchers.
Using statistical models to analyze population data, the researchers estimated that the overall number of cancer survivors in the United States will continue to grow substantially. But the proportion of survivors who are aged 65 or older will grow the most, with this group representing nearly three-quarters of cancer survivors by 2040, the researchers reported in a study published July 1 in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.
- Mouse Study Illuminates the Spread of Breast Cancer to Bone
By tracking the spread of breast cancer cells in mice, researchers have identified two proteins that may regulate the movement of breast cancer cells into and out of bone marrow.
A protein called E-selectin may allow breast cancer cells to enter certain regions of the bone marrow, and another protein, CXCR4, may help breast cancer cells remain within the bone, according to the study results.
- Setting the Stage for the Next Decade of Tobacco Control Research
One of the biggest dangers we face in public health is prematurely declaring victory over a major health threat. Nowhere is that more true than in the case of tobacco use.
Smoking rates have dropped precipitously over the past several decades—a monumental achievement that resulted from implementing evidence based policies and programs, such as increasing tobacco taxes, implementing comprehensive smoke-free laws, and efforts to help smokers to quit.
- The Cancer Moonshot Summit: Reaching New Heights
Yesterday, I attended the Cancer Moonshot Summit, hosted by Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden, held at Howard University in Washington, DC. In addition to this Summit, there were more than 250 regional summits happening simultaneously, making this truly a national event.
The summits were an opportunity for the Vice President to speak directly to the American public and ask them to “convene under the national charge of doubling the rate of progress toward ending cancer as we know it.”
- Prognosis Discussions Improve Understanding of Illness for Patients with Terminal Cancer
New study results show that many patients with advanced, incurable cancer have a poor understanding of their prognosis or life expectancy. Fewer than one in four patients in the study reported having a recent discussion about prognosis with their oncologist, although those who did were more likely to understand the serious nature of their illness, the study showed.
“To our knowledge, our study is the first to directly address and demonstrate these associations between the timing of patient-reported prognostic discussions and improvements in illness understanding by patients,” the study authors wrote in a paper published May 23 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
- The Moonshot Blue Ribbon Panel: Moving Toward a Final Report
I hope that, by now, most in the cancer community have seen Vice President Biden’s address at the 2016 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. It was an inspiring presentation, with the Vice President highlighting the launch of the Genomic Data Commons and emphasizing the essential role the research community will play in achieving the National Cancer Moonshot Initiative’s goals.
I’d like to give you an update on other things that have happened with this important initiative since my last post in Cancer Currents, but let me just preface this by saying that it’s been anything but business as usual for NCI.
- Extended Adjuvant Therapy Beneficial for Some Women with Breast Cancer
Results from a recent clinical trial showed that extending adjuvant therapy with an aromatase inhibitor to 10 years after initial treatment can have important benefits for postmenopausal women with early-stage hormone receptor (HR)–positive breast cancer. The longer treatment improved 5-year disease-free survival and decreased the women’s risk of developing cancer in the opposite breast, called contralateral breast cancer.
The findings were published in the New England Journal of Medicine on June 5 and presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting in Chicago.
- Early-Stage Cancer Trials Support Promise of Precision Medicine, Immunotherapy
Findings from several early-stage clinical trials featured at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting in Chicago last week reflect the dominant trends in cancer treatment: targeted therapies and immune-based treatments.
Although the results of these trials won’t change patient care immediately, in each case the trial investigators and other researchers agreed that the findings point in that direction.
- Blood Test for Genetic Changes in Tumors Shows Promise as Alternative to Tumor Biopsy
In the largest study of its kind to date, a test that assesses DNA mutations and other changes in genetic material shed from tumors into the blood—a so-called liquid biopsy—produced results highly similar to those of traditional tumor biopsies.
The patterns of genomic changes identified by the test in a large collection of patient blood samples largely matched patterns of genetic changes seen in large tumor biopsy profiling studies, researchers reported last week at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) in Chicago.
- Trials Produce Practice-Changing Results for Brain Cancer
The standard treatment that some patients with brain cancer receive is likely to change, based on findings from two large clinical trials presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting in Chicago this week.
Both trials showed that administering the chemotherapy drug temozolomide (Temodar®) in addition to radiation therapy increased how long patients lived overall and without their disease progressing. The trial investigators and other leading brain cancer researchers agreed that the results of the two trials will change the standard of care.
- FDA Approves New Immunotherapy Drug for Bladder Cancer
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on May 18 approved atezolizumab (Tecentriq®) for the treatment of some patients with urothelial carcinoma, the most common type of bladder cancer. The drug, which strengthens the body’s immune response against cancer, is the first new treatment approved for bladder cancer in two decades.
“This is very exciting news for patients with bladder cancer,” said Piyush Agarwal, M.D., head of the Bladder Cancer Section in the NCI Center for Cancer Research's (CCR) Urologic Oncology Branch, who noted that the approval would likely open “a wave of new clinical trials” for patients with bladder cancer. The FDA approved atezolizumab for patients with locally advanced or metastatic urothelial carcinoma that has gotten worse during or after treatment with platinum chemotherapy.
- Patient-Derived Antibody Appears to Selectively Target Tumor Cells, Spur Immune Attack
Researchers have developed an antibody derived from patients with early-stage lung cancer that enlists the immune system to destroy cancer cells.
The antibody killed tumor cells in cell lines of several different cancer types and slowed tumor growth in mouse models of brain and lung cancer without obvious evidence of side effects, the researchers reported May 5 in Cell Reports.
- Two New Therapies Approved by FDA for Advanced Kidney Cancer
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved two drugs for the treatment of patients with advanced kidney cancer. Both approvals are for patients whose cancers have progressed after receiving prior treatment with drugs that block tumor blood vessel growth, known as antiangiogenic therapies.
- Enhanced Risk-Based Lung Cancer Screening May Prevent More Deaths than Current Approaches
NCI researchers have developed a risk model-based approach for selecting smokers and former smokers who may be candidates for lung cancer screening with low-dose computed tomography (CT). Using data from two lung cancer screening studies and a U.S. health survey, the researchers estimated that the new approach might prevent more deaths from lung cancer over 5 years than would current screening recommendations.
Results from the statistical analysis appeared in JAMA on May 15.
- FDA Approves First Immunotherapy for Lymphoma
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved nivolumab (Opdivo®) on May 17 for the treatment of some patients with classical Hodgkin lymphoma (cHL). The approval is for the treatment of patients whose disease has relapsed or worsened after they received an autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) followed by brentuximab vedotin (Adcetris®).
Nivolumab—which has already been approved for the treatment of metastatic melanoma, lung cancer, and kidney cancer—is the first immunotherapy agent approved for any type of lymphoma.