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Breakthrough Research at Oncology Meeting

Researchers at USC and the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center will present promising new findings in a number of cancer research areas at the 2010 American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting in Chicago from June 4-8.

Bladder Cancer

A phase II clinical trial led by researchers at the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center found that the drug eribulin was effective in treating patients with advanced bladder cancer (Abstract # 4539).

In the trial of 40 patients, 42 percent had significant tumor shrinkage, said study principal investigator David I. Quinn, associate professor of medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and medical director of the USC Norris Cancer Hospital. The trial was conducted by the California Cancer Consortium, which includes USC Norris, the University of California, Davis, City of Hope and the University of Chicago.

The drug, which is made from black Pacific sea sponge toxin, has been shown in early trials to be effective in treating urinary cancer, breast cancer and lung cancer, Quinn said.

“Our results indicate that eribulin can also be administered to patients with moderate to severe renal impairment,” he said. “It’s well tolerated and patients like it. I think it’s going to have significant active use in a number of cancers.”

The abstract will be presented in a poster discussion session on June 5.

Pediatric Cancer

Researchers at the Keck School of Medicine and Childrens Hospital Los Angeles found that female acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) patients developed more acute toxicities than male patients during the first four phases of treatment (Abstract # 9515).

Researchers reviewed data collected from the Children’s Cancer Group high-risk ALL study. The analyses included 830 female and 1,224 male patients between the ages of 1-21 years old who were enrolled between 1996 and 2002. Analyses were adjusted for age, race, treatment regimen, phase and body surface area.

The investigators found that female patients had significantly more hospital stays than males. Supportive care use (such as blood transfusions, antibiotics and nutritional support) was higher for females, and females developed more grade 3 and grade 4 toxicities than males.

“This study suggests that the biological differences between male and female patients do have an impact on treatment outcomes,” said principal investigator Kathleen Meeske, assistant professor of pediatrics and preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine and director of the Health Outcomes and Cancer Control Research Program at Childrens Hospital. “While our results need to be confirmed in a validation study, our findings suggest that the risk/benefit ratio varies for male and female patients, and perhaps gender specific treatments are appropriate.”

The abstract will be presented as an oral presentation at the Pediatric Oncology II session on June 7.

Colorectal Cancer

A study led by researchers at USC Norris have identified specific genes in the insulin-like growth factor pathway (IGF) that predict the efficacy of epidermal growth-factor receptor (EGFR) inhibitor drugs for colon cancer patients (Abstract #3562).

Researchers analyzed tissue samples from 130 patients with K-ras mutation status who were enrolled in a phase II clinical trial of cetuximab, a monoclonal antibody that targets the EGFR, to determine whether variations in the IGF1 and IGF1R genes are associated with clinical outcome. The investigators were able to predict the response rate of half the patients to the drug.

The data suggests that researchers can predict the response of 50 percent of patients, whereas the normal response rate is only 10 percent, said Heinz-Josef Lenz, professor of medicine at the Keck School of Medicine and the principal investigator of the study.

“This data is very promising and shows for the first time that germline variations in genes involved in the IGF pathway may also play an important role in predicting efficacy of EGFR inhibitors we use for patients with colon cancer,” Lenz said. “These may not only be markers for prediction of response, but also are targets for novel drugs being developed to inhibit the IGF pathway.”

These genotypes may be useful for selecting patients for combined IGF1R and EGFR treatment, said Thomas Winder, research fellow in the Sharon A. Carpenter Laboratory at USC Norris and the lead author of the study.

“Future prospective biomarker embedded clinical trials are needed to validate our findings and to implement them rapidly into routine clinical practice,” Winder said.

The abstract will be presented in a general poster session on June 6.

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Breakthrough Research at Oncology Meeting

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