Big Pharma expected to dominate key cancer meeting

Full story: Boston.com

Biotechnology may have blazed the trail, but big pharma is fast advancing in the competition to develop innovative cancer treatments.
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1 - 3 of 3 Comments Last updated Mar 15, 2008
gdpawel

Jefferson, MD

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#1
Jun 19, 2006
 
New Test Identifies Patients who Benefit from Targeted Cancer Drugs

A new laboratory test that identifies patients who benefit most from targeted cancer drugs was introduced at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) as the test's accuracy is sure to save hundreds of lives per year. This could help solve the problem of knowing which patients can tolerate costly, new treatments and their harmful side-effects. This "smart" drugs do not work for everyone, and a test to determine the efficacy of these drugs in a patient could be the first crucial step in personalizing treatment to the individual.

According to Chemical & Engineering News, targeted "small-molecule" therapies ruled at the annual ASCO meeting of oncologists. The most exciting results shown came from studies of multitargeted tyrosine kinase inhibitors, small molecules that act on multiple receptors in the cancerous cells, like Tykerb and Sutent. The trend is away from the monoclonals to the small molecules, a trend which the new EGFRx (TM) test may be able to hasten.

The EGFRx (TM) assay will test molecularly-targeted anti-cancer drugs therapies Iressa, Tarceva, Sutent and possibly Nexavar, because of being small molecules. The monoclonal antibodies like Herceptin and Erbitux are "enormous" molecules. These very large molecules don't have a convenient way of getting access to the large majority of cells. Plus, there is multicellular resistance, the drugs affecting only the cells on the outside may not kill these cells if they are in contact with cells on the inside, which are protected from the drug. The cells may pass small molecules back and forth.

However, drugs like Avastin (although a monoclonal antibody) can be tested with EGFRx (TM) because the target of Avastin is not the cells themselves, but rather a hormone (VEGF) secreted by the tumor cells. The Avastin complexes with free VEGF and blocks its action. The EGFRx (TM) test can discriminate between the activity of different targeted drugs and identify situations in which it is advantageous to combine the targeted drugs with other types of cancer drugs. All the more reason to "test the tumor first."

Most patients are treated not with a targeted therapy drug alone but with a combination of chemotherapy drugs. Therefore, existing DNA and RNA tests do not reflect the way cancer medicine is practiced today. The EGFRx assay, developed by The Weisenthal Cancer Group relies upon a technique known as "Whole Cell Profiling" in which living tumour cells are removed from an individual cancer patient and exposed in the laboratory to the new drugs.

A variety of metabolic and apoptotic measurements are then used to determine if a specific drug was successful at killing the patient's cancer cells. The whole cell profiling method differs from other tests in that it assesses the activity of a drug upon combined effect of all cellular processes, using several metabolic and morphologic endpoints. Other tests, such as those which identify DNA or RNA sequences or expression of individual proteins often examine only one component of a much larger, interactive process.

Not only is this an important predictive test that is available "today," but it is also a unique tool that can help to identify newer and better drugs, evaluate promising drug combinations, and serve as a "gold standard" correlative model with which to develop new DNA, RNA, and protein-based tests that better predict for drug activity.

These "targeting" drugs are expensive, costing patients and insurance carriers $5,000 to $7,000 or more per month of treatment. Patients, physicians, insurance carriers, and the FDA are all calling for the discovery of predictive tests that allow for rational and cost-effective use of these drugs.
gdpawel

Jefferson, MD

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#2
Jun 19, 2006
 
A new laboratory test that identifies patients who benefit most from targeted cancer drugs was introduced at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) as the test's accuracy is sure to save hundreds of lives per year. This could help solve the problem of knowing which patients can tolerate costly, new treatments and their harmful side-effects. This "smart" drugs do not work for everyone, and a test to determine the efficacy of these drugs in a patient could be the first crucial step in personalizing treatment to the individual.

According to Chemical & Engineering News, targeted "small-molecule" therapies ruled at the annual ASCO meeting of oncologists. The most exciting results shown came from studies of multitargeted tyrosine kinase inhibitors, small molecules that act on multiple receptors in the cancerous cells, like Tykerb and Sutent. The trend is away from the monoclonals to the small molecules, a trend which the new EGFRx (TM) test may be able to hasten.

The EGFRx (TM) assay will test molecularly-targeted anti-cancer drugs therapies Iressa, Tarceva, Sutent and possibly Nexavar, because of being small molecules. The monoclonal antibodies like Herceptin and Erbitux are "enormous" molecules. These very large molecules don't have a convenient way of getting access to the large majority of cells. Plus, there is multicellular resistance, the drugs affecting only the cells on the outside may not kill these cells if they are in contact with cells on the inside, which are protected from the drug. The cells may pass small molecules back and forth.

However, drugs like Avastin (although a monoclonal antibody) can be tested with EGFRx (TM) because the target of Avastin is not the cells themselves, but rather a hormone (VEGF) secreted by the tumor cells. The Avastin complexes with free VEGF and blocks its action. The EGFRx (TM) test can discriminate between the activity of different targeted drugs and identify situations in which it is advantageous to combine the targeted drugs with other types of cancer drugs. All the more reason to "test the tumor first."

Most patients are treated not with a targeted therapy drug alone but with a combination of chemotherapy drugs. Therefore, existing DNA and RNA tests do not reflect the way cancer medicine is practiced today. The EGFRx assay, developed by The Weisenthal Cancer Group relies upon a technique known as "Whole Cell Profiling" in which living tumour cells are removed from an individual cancer patient and exposed in the laboratory to the new drugs.

A variety of metabolic and apoptotic measurements are then used to determine if a specific drug was successful at killing the patient's cancer cells. The whole cell profiling method differs from other tests in that it assesses the activity of a drug upon combined effect of all cellular processes, using several metabolic and morphologic endpoints. Other tests, such as those which identify DNA or RNA sequences or expression of individual proteins often examine only one component of a much larger, interactive process.

Not only is this an important predictive test that is available "today," but it is also a unique tool that can help to identify newer and better drugs, evaluate promising drug combinations, and serve as a "gold standard" correlative model with which to develop new DNA, RNA, and protein-based tests that better predict for drug activity.

These "targeting" drugs are expensive, costing patients and insurance carriers $5,000 to $7,000 or more per month of treatment. Patients, physicians, insurance carriers, and the FDA are all calling for the discovery of predictive tests that allow for rational and cost-effective use of these drugs.

Since: Mar 08

Huaihua, Hunan

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#3
Mar 15, 2008
 
Use Classical Chinese Medicine. Integrate CCM doctors into the team and the techniques and formulas broadly and generally available within China. Used alone, these techniques have high survival rates, are based upon "Consitution type" of patient, symtpom differentiation and offer better than high tech results with low-cost diagnostics and individualized treatments.

Many OMD or CHM docs have success rates of 80% 5+ year survival rates for lung cancer, breast cancer, etc. Of course, the whole system integrates nutrition, spirituality and treatment, but more importantly harmonizes the body so it won't reproduce the cells and conditions that gave rise to cancer.

After all, cancer is not a new disease. The western name for it and its classification is. namaste.

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