Category Archives: Traditional Chemotherapy

The levels of immune cells within ovarian cancer tumors correlate with survival

Researches with the Ovarian Tumor Tissue Analyses Consortium analyzed the CD8+ (cytotoxic T-cell) content of tumors from 5,500 patients and compared them with clinical outcome. The analysis was large enough to allow for comparison by histologic subtype – endometrioid, clear cell, mucinous, and low-grade serous ovarian cancer, as well as high-grade serous ovarian cancer. Included in the sample were 3,200 high grade serous ovarian cancers. Continue reading

Olaparib – PARP inhibitor for triple negative breast cancer

Olaparib (Lynparza) is a PARP (poly-ADP ribose polymerase) inhibitor that was approved by the FDA in 2014 for the treatment of patients with advanced ovarian cancer who have mutated BRCA1,2 gene. Recently, the drug showed a 70% reduction in risk of progression in patients with less-advanced disease in the maintenance therapy setting:

The Phase III SOLO-2 trial demonstrated a significant improvement in progression-free survival (PFS) in germline BRCA-mutated (gBRCA), platinum-sensitive, relapsed ovarian cancer patients treated with Lynparza (olaparib) tablets (300mg twice daily) compared with placebo in the maintenance setting. The trial met its primary endpoint of investigator assessed PFS (HR 0.30; 95% CI 0.22 to 0.41; P<0.0001; median 19.1 months vs 5.5 months).

PARP inhibitors act in a counter-intuitive manner – by blocking PARP in the context of mutated BRCA1, the cell becomes overwhelmed with double strand breaks, leading to crisis and cell death. BRCA1 mutations, alone, predispose the cell to the accumulation of mutations in protooncogenes and tumor suppressor genes – a few double strand breaks are tumorigenic, whereas a massive number of double strand breaks, as occurs in the context of PARP inhibition, leads to apoptosis.

Figure 1.

The use of PARP inhibitors for breast cancer makes great sense, However, in a Phase 3 trial of velparib, an experimental PARP inhibitor, failed to achieve better rates of complete pathogenic response in patients with triple negative breast cancer (TNBC – lack of HER-2, estrogen, and progesterone receptor up-regulation) versus chemotherapy, alone.

At the ASCO conference last week, AstraZeneca presented data on the use of olaparib in 302 patients with BRCA1,2 mutated breast cancer from its OlympiAD trial that compares olaparib against physician’s choice of chemotherapy (capecitabine 2500 mg/m2 d1-14 q 21, or vinorelbine 30 mg/m2 d1,8 q 21, or eribulin 1.4 mg/m2 d1,8 q 21):

OlympiAD Inclusion Criteria:

  • Germline mutation in BRCA1 or BRCA2 that is predicted to be deleterious or suspected deleterious.
  • Histologically or cytologically confirmed breast cancer with evidence of metastatic disease.
  • Prior therapy with an anthracycline and a taxane in either an adjuvant or metastatic setting.
  • Prior platinum allowed as long as no breast cancer progression occurred on treatment or if given in adjuvant/neoadjuvant setting at least 12 months from last dose to study entry elapsed.
  • ER/PR breast cancer positive patients must have received and progressed on at least one endocrine therapy (adjuvant or metastatic), or have disease that the treating physician believes to be inappropriate for endocrine therapy.
  • ECOG performance status 0-1.
  • Adequate bone marrow, kidney and liver function.

OlympiAD Exclusion Criteria:

  • Prior treatment with PARP inhibitor.
  • Patients with HER2 positive disease.
  • More than 2 prior lines of chemotherapy for metastatic breast cancer.
  • Untreated and/or uncontrolled brain metastases.

Results were quite impressive – this was the first study that demonstrated PARP inhibition is effective in breast cancer:

  • About 60% of patients saw their tumors shrink, a hair more than double the 29% objective response rate seen in those patients on chemotherapy.
  • Lynparza showed efficacy in patients with TNBC, which is more difficult to treat. AbbVie, which is developing its own PARP inhibitor called veliparib, recentlyannounced a study specifically geared to look at veliparib’s activity in triple negative breast cancer failed to show a benefit when added to chemo. 
  • Additionally, treatment with Lynparza improved the time to second progression or death compared to chemo,suggesting patients who relapsed after Lynparza experienced a less aggressive return of their cancers. 

Astrazeneca is studying olaparib with many combinations, including a study in TNBC with PD-L1 inhibitor durvalumab and CTLA-4 inhibitor tremelimumab.

New data with temozolomide plus radiation for brain cancers

The results of two studies have demonstrated that the use of temozolomide (TMZ) plus radiation increases disease-free and overall survival in patients with glioblastoma and a low grade glioma called anaplastic glioma. Continue reading

FDA Grants Antibody-Drug Conjugate Breakthrough Designation in Triple Negative Breast Cancer – Amani Khawatmi, Contributor

The FDA granted Breakthrough Therapy Designation to Sacituzumab govetican (IMMU-132) for treatment of triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC). A diagnosis of triple negative breast cancer means that the three most common types of receptors known to fuel most breast cancer growth–estrogen, progesterone, and the HER-2/neu gene– are not present in the cancer tumor.  This means that the breast cancer cells have tested negative for hormone epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER-2), estrogen receptors (ER), and progesterone receptors (PR).  Since the tumor cells lack the necessary receptors, common treatments likehormone therapy and drugs that target estrogen, progesterone, and HER-2 are ineffective.

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Halaven Shows Survival Advantage in Liposarcoma – FDA Approved

Halaven (eribulin mesylate) was approved by the FDA for the treatment of patients with unresectable or advanced liposarcoma. The treatment is approved for patients who previously had undergone chemotherapy with an anthracycline drug. It was previously approved for patients with breast cancer who had undergone at least two prior chemotherapeutic regimens, including an anthracycline and a taxane. Continue reading

Varubi (rolapitant) Approved for Chemotherapy-Induced Nausea and Vomiting

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Varubi (rolapitant) (Tesaro) as part of a combination of drugs to prevent nausea and vomiting caused by certain types of cancer chemotherapy. More specifically, it was approved to prevent delayed phase chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV). Continue reading

Targeting Cancer Stem Cells – OncoMed’s R-SPONDIN LGR Antibody for Colorectal Cancer

OncoMed initiated a Phase I/II trial of its anti-RSPO3 antibody (OMP-131R10) in patients with relapsed colorectal cancer. Patients will also be receiving FOLFIRI (5-FU, irinotecan, leucovorin). Continue reading

Vectibix Extends Survival in Colon Cancer

A Phase III study in patients with chemo-refractory colorectal cancer with wild-type K-ras genotype demonstrated that Amgen’s Vectibix (panitumumab) improved overall survival compared to best supportive therapy, alone. A total of 377 patients were randomized to receive best supportive care with or without intravenous infusions of Vectibix every 14 days. Full results of the study will be presented at a future medical meeting and submitted for publication. Continue reading

What do pineapples, glucose, and cancer have in common – mitochondria

I was sent articles by two non-cancer researchers last week – they are quite fitting for discuss on this blog (thank you, Gina and Sherilyn). The first was on DCA (dichloroacetate), a drug approved for congenital lactic acidosis, and the second about bromelain, an enzyme in pineapples. Continue reading

Iontophoresis: Electric Fields as a New Innovative Way to Deliver Chemotherapy. Guest Contributor – Mariah J. Scott

Researchers at the University of North Carolina have been developing a chemotherapy drug treatment utilizing iontophoresis specifically for prostate and breast cancer. Continue reading