Archive by category | Cancer

Breast cancer approval revoked for problem-plagued Avastin

The US Food and Drug Administration announced today that it would be revoking the agency’s approval of Avastin (bevacizumab) for first-line treatment of metastatic breast cancer. The FDA concluded from several studies and a public hearing held in June that the Genentech drug — a monoclonal antibody that inhibits vascular endothelial growth factor — was not safe or effective for women with breast cancer.  Read more

First drugs found to inhibit elusive cancer target

Ever since scientists discovered the cancer-promoting gene MYC in the late 1970s, researchers have dreamt of developing drugs that inhibit its function. Yet efforts to target MYCactivity have proven unsuccessful, in part because the protein product encoded by the oncogene lacks an obvious target-binding site. Now, however, scientists from a handful of research groups have found a way to inhibit MYCindirectly—by preventing an upstream protein from instigating the expression of MYCand its downstream targets. Buoyed by the promising therapeutic effects that such experimental drugs have had in mice with several types of cancer, companies are racing to test the molecules in clinical trials, despite lingering questions about how, exactly, they work.  Read more

Largest study of home-testing for HPV underscores its promise — and problems

Largest study of home-testing for HPV underscores its promise — and problems

It’s an understatement to say that HPV has made headlines in recent weeks, but there’s another way the virus might be hitting home. While a clinic-based DNA test for the virus received regulatory approval in the US in 2000, researchers are now exploring the possibility of at-home testing to screen for the pathogen.  Read more

Cancer drugs find a companion with new diagnostic tests

When Stephen Little co-founded a molecular diagnostics company in 2001, he gave numerous presentations to pharmaceutical companies touting the benefits of tests that can tell which patients are likely to respond to a particular therapy or experience side effects. But most drugmakers were focused on blockbusters, and, since these so-called ‘companion diagnostics’ divide patient populations into smaller groups, they threatened to contract, not expand, their markets. As such, Little recalls, “there was not a great deal of enthusiasm.”  … Read more

New treatments on the horizon for Steve Jobs’ rare type of pancreatic cancer

New treatments on the horizon for Steve Jobs’ rare type of pancreatic cancer

The death of tech pioneer and Apple co-founder Steve Jobs on Wednesday has prompted mourning and gadget-clutching around the world. Although Jobs’ family did not disclose the cause of his death, speculations abound that a rare form of pancreatic cancer did him in. In 2004, Jobs was diagnosed with an islet cell neuroendocrine tumor, and underwent surgery (a pancreaticoduodenectomy, or “Whipple procedure”) to remove the tumor later that year. He declared himself cured — but in 2008, his frail appearance suggested that he was ill once more. Jobs had a liver transplant in 2009, went on medical leave in January 2011, and resigned from the company just a month and a half ago, on 24 August. He died yesterday. He was 56.  Read more

Cancer-killing viruses zero in on tumor cells

Doctors have known for nearly a century that when cancer patients catch a virus the infection can help to beat back their tumors. But developing therapies hinged upon this idea has not been easy. Researchers first have to engineer the viruses to discriminately attack only the cancer cells. Then the virus has to actually reach those tumor cells and kill them. Despite these barriers, research has plunged forward, with several viruses in late-stage clinical development (see ‘Recent deal highlights hopes for cancer-killing viruses’).  Read more

Forty years on from Nixon’s war, cancer research ‘evolves’

SAN FRANCISCO — Ever since US president Richard Nixon declared war on cancer in 1971, scientists and physicians have launched a full-on offensive against the disease, seeking to cure cancer by eradicating the multiplying enemy cells. But, with few exceptions, treatments haven’t lived up to expectations.  Read more

New melanoma drugs steal the show at Chicago cancer meeting

Finally June has arrived, bringing with it heat, tank tops, pool parties — and the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), when tens of thousands of doctors and scientists gather in Chicago to hear and discuss recent clinical findings in cancer treatment. Over the past week, cancer researchers presented more than 4,000 abstracts, but a pair of them in particular stood out: results from phase 3 clinical trials of two drugs for the treatment of an aggressive form of skin cancer known as metastatic melanoma.  Read more