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Hopkins team shows methylation-specific ddPCR may help predict head and neck cancer recurrence

Thu, Aug 27, 2015

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Source: www.genomeweb.com
Author: Madeleine Johnson

Oncologists probe the margins of surgical sites to detect epigenetic indicators that can anticipate cancer recurrence. But deep surgical margin analysis with biopsy can alter the site making it challenging to return to the exact spot if there is a problem. It also takes only a few rogue cancer cells to cause a recurrence and these may be missed by histological techniques.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine have now developed a method using Bio-Rad’s Droplet Digital PCR platform that is amenable to molecular methods and only requires a tiny sample from the surgical margin.

Specifically, in a study published this week in Cancer Prevention Research, scientists examined an epigenetic signature of PAX5 gene methlyation previously determined to be specific to cancer, and found that it could be used to predict local cancer recurrence after tumor removal for head and neck squamous cell carcinoma, or HNSCC.

In a prospective study of 82 patients, if the tumors had methylated PAX5 then the presence of residual methylated cells in the surgical margins was a predictor of poor locoregional recurrence-free survival. And among patients on subgroup of patients who did not receive radiation treatment after surgery, the ddPCR method increased detection of the PAX5 maker from 29 percent to 71 percent.

Compared to conventional methylation analysis, the ddPCR method also reduced the number of false negatives. Importantly, the authors noted in the study that the method can be performed within three hours by one person. Thus, it might be completed before the reconstruction phase of a typical operation, allowing surgeons to resect the margin of the surgical site if methylated cells are detected.

The authors concluded that future personalized oncology workflows could also employ methylation arrays or methylation sequencing to pre-operatively define a patient’s methylome and design a panel of primers and probes that could be used in intraoperative surgical margin assays.

A spokesperson at Bio-Rad noted that an increasing number of researchers are using the firm’s digital PCR platform for methylation studies.

“There seems to be increasing success in applying ddPCR to measurements of methylation, as judged from an uptick in recent publications,” George Karlin-Neumann, the director of scientific affairs at Bio-Rad’s Digital Biology Center, told GenomeWeb in an email.

He cited another recent study that examined so-called “field cancerization,” or the presence of clonally-related cells in the mucosal area surrounding a tumor that have malignant potential and carry cancer-associated genetic or epigenetic alterations.

That work, published in Epigenetics in July, looked at colorectal cancer and showed MethyLight ddPCR was able to achieve a significantly lower limit of detection than the same technique using standard PCR. The author of that study told GenomeWeb that ddPCR could help detect the one or two cells with cancerous epigenetic changes out of a field of thousands.

This increased sensitivity over conventional qPCR is “translating into better clinical sensitivity and specificity with methylation biomarkers, bringing us closer to the possibility of their clinical implementation,” Karlin-Neumann said.

He further noted another recent study, published in Diabetes, which showed absolute measurements of methylated and non-methylated preproinsulin cell-free DNA in blood could provide a better association with Type 1 diabetes than ratio measures.

This result “plays to the strengths of ddPCR’s ability to make absolute measurements, rather than just relative ones.”

Raleigh, North Carolina-based biopharmaceutical company Islet Sciences is also using the methylation status of cell-free DNA to track pancreatic beta cell death. That firm licensed a ddPCR-based epigenetic method from a lab at Yale University, and representatives told GenomeWeb last year that Islet is working to commercialize the assay.

Viresh Patel, global marketing director at Bio-Rad’s Digital Biology Center, told GenomeWeb in an email that the firm is not currently marketing methylation applications specifically, but Bio-Rad continues to work with customers on assay design, sample compatibility, and data analysis.

“This is an emerging application for ddPCR which we expect to gain momentum as researchers continue to publish their breakthrough research,” Patel said.

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Rinsing with salt water beats out swishing with mouthwash

Thu, Aug 27, 2015

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Source: www.reviewjournal.com
Author: John Przybys

A bottle can be found on just about every bathroom countertop or in just about every medicine cabinet in America. But is incorporating an over-the-counter mouthwash into your daily oral hygiene routine worth it?

mouthwash

Dr. Daniel L. Orr II, a professor and director of oral and maxillofacial surgery at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas School of Dental Medicine, says over-the-counter mouthwashes pose no health problems to those who use them sparingly.

But Orr also notes that some over-the-counter mouthwashes contain more than 20 percent alcohol. That alcohol — in addition to being a potential poisoning danger to kids who might stumble upon it and drink it — also is “an irritant” to the gums and mouth, Orr says.

“If you want to do a little experiment, you can just put any name brand (of mouthwash) into your mouth and just hold it there for a couple of minutes. It starts to burn and doesn’t feel good at all.”

Over-the-counter mouthwashes usually are taken by consumers in an attempt to kill odor-causing bacteria in the mouth. But, Orr says, “mouthwash doesn’t really clean your mouth. It doesn’t debride like a toothbrush and floss do. So if you brush and floss correctly, there really shouldn’t be much need for mouthwash at all.”

Also, Orr says, some studies indicate that “people who use it a lot — like taking it three times a day — have a slightly increased chance of oral cancer, other things being equal.”

In addition, Orr says, there are studies that indicate that “mouthwash use can actually raise your blood pressure a little bit. We’re talking maybe two or three points. That might not be a big deal, but why do it?”

The bottom line: Using an over-the-counter mouthwash to refresh one’s mouth “once a day probably is not a big deal,” and studies that point to adverse reactions tend to involve the more chronic use of mouthwash three or so times a day.

Note, too, that there are nonalcohol over-the-counter mouthwashes on the market, and that dentists often recommend specialized mouth rinses in treating specific dental problems. And while strong over-the-counter preparations may be iffy additions to an oral hygiene regimen, “rinsing is good,” Orr says.

“For instance, I’m an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, and when you take out a tooth, you can’t mechanically debride that socket very well,” he says. “So after I take out a tooth, I recommend rinsing, and what I recommend 90 percent of the time is warm salt water.”

So try rinsing with a teaspoon of salt dissolved in an 8-ounce glass of water, Orr says. “It kills bacteria and keeps (the mouth) clean.”

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HPV DNA detected in mouthwash predicts oral cancer recurrence

Thu, Aug 27, 2015

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Source: www.onclive.com
Author: Kelly Johnson

The presence of HPV16 DNA is common at diagnosis of HPV-related oropharyngeal carcinoma (HPV-OPC) but rare after treatment. HPV-OPC has a favorable prognosis; however, 10% to 25% of patients experience disease progression, usually within 2 years of treatment.

Patients who have HPV 16 DNA in their saliva following treatment of their oropharyngeal cancer are more likely to have their cancer recur, and a prospective cohort study published in JAMA Oncology has shown that a simple mouth rinse can be used to detect it.

Gypysamber-1

Gypsyamber D’Souza

Gypsyamber D’Souza, PhD, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and fellow researchers monitored 124 patients with newly diagnosed oropharyngeal cancer from 2009 through 2013. They collected oral rinse and gargle samples using 10 mL of mouthwash at the time of diagnosis as well as after treatment 9, 12, 18, and 24 months later.

HPV16 DNA was detected in 67 out of 124 of the participants testing positive. Of the 67 patients who had HPV16 DNA in their saliva at the time of diagnosis, five patients (7%) were found to still have traces of HPV16 in their oral rinses following treatment.

All five patients developed a local recurrence of oropharyngeal cancer, three of whom died from the disease.

“It’s a very small number so we have to be somewhat cautious,” said D’Souza, an associate professor in the Department of Epidemiology at the Bloomberg School and a member of the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, in a statement. However, “The fact that all of the patients with persistent HPV16 DNA in their rinses after treatment later had recurrence meant that this may have the potential to become an effective prognostic tool.”

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Teen E-Cig Users More Likely to Smoke

Fri, Aug 21, 2015

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Source: www.newswise.com
 

Newswise — As e-cigarette usage among high school students continues to climb, a recent study from The Journal of the American Medical Association reveals an unsettling trend: that adolescent e-cigarette users are more likely than their non-vaping peers to initiate use of combustible tobacco products such as cigarettes, cigars and hookahs. The reason may lie in a common denominator between e-cigarettes and their combustible counterparts: nicotine.

While the study hints that more research is needed to determine if this association is merely casual, it’s important to note that while e-cigarettes don’t contain tobacco, the battery-powered devices do deliver nicotine in aerosol form.

“Nicotine’s addictive properties are a risk for any age group, but with adolescents, the stakes are even higher,” says Dr. K. Vendrell Rankin, director of Texas A&M University Baylor College of Dentistry’s Tobacco Treatment Services.

For teens, mental health as well as key emotional and cognitive systems are at stake.

“Major cognitive functions and attention performance are still in the process of developing during adolescence,” says Rankin, also a professor and associate chair in public health sciences at TAMBCD. “Nicotine increases the risk of developing psychiatric disorders and lasting cognitive impairment and is associated with disturbances in working memory and attention. Reliance on nicotine to manage negative emotions and situations impairs the development of coping skills.”

In addition to affecting the emotional and cognitive development of teens, nicotine is highly addictive. In fact, the younger a person is when they begin using nicotine, the more likely they are to become addicted and the stronger the addiction may become. According to the American Lung Association, of adults who smoke, 68 percent began smoking at age 18 or younger.

In other words, the younger users are when they try or start using nicotine, the more nicotine receptors they will have and the more they may struggle with nicotine cravings throughout  their lives.

“Everybody has a certain amount of nicotine receptors in the brain,” Rankin says. “When you start smoking, vaping or supplying nicotine to them, they multiply. If you stop smoking or vaping, the receptors don’t go away.”

Nicotine use very quickly escalates into addiction, even when dealing with tobacco-free, odorless “vaping” associated with e-cigarettes. That’s because nicotine in any form triggers the release of neurotransmitters such as adrenaline and dopamine, which dramatically impacts a number of body systems. Dopamine floods the brain, and nicotine cravings increase.

This includes spit, or smokeless tobacco, which in the past was promoted as a replacement to smoking. The result: The creation of a large group that began using spit tobacco as a smoking replacement but eventually became dual users.

“We are seeing the same phenomena with the e-cigarette,” says Rankin. To better understand the similar association between e-cigarettes and combustible tobacco product use among teens, Rankin says further research could be replicated on a national level, as the study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association focused on Los Angeles high school students.

E-cigarette companies currently advertise their products to a broad audience that includes 24 million youths, and proposed U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulations would not limit e-cigarette marketing. Bold marketing tactics, celebrity endorsements, endless flavor choices and a plethora of online videos instructing users on how to mix their own e-cigarette liquid, or “e-juice,” have only added fuel to the fire. There currently are no federal laws in place to restrict minors from purchasing e-cigarettes.

There is a glimmer of hope on the horizon. In April, the FDA released the details of a proposal to extend its tobacco authority to e-cigarettes, including minimum age and identification restrictions intended to prevent sales to minors. A final ruling is slated for summer 2015.

In the meantime, many Texas cities have set their own regulations and ordinances banning the sale of e-cigarettes to minors. Any e-cigarette regulation in Texas will have to occur city by city, Rankin says, since the state doesn’t have comprehensive smoke-free laws.

“I don’t think e-cigarettes are going to drop off,” Rankin says. “It’s the newest — or most popular — kid on the block right now.”

*This news story was resourced by the Oral Cancer Foundation, and vetted for appropriateness and accuracy.

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Kissing, a leading risk factor for oral cancer, says doctor

Mon, Aug 17, 2015

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Source: www.mnn.com
Author: Bryan Nelson

Bad news for kissers: According to at least one doctor, kissing could be worse than smoking when it comes to being a risk factor for developing head and neck cancers, reports NT News. Dr. Mahiban Thomas, head of Maxillofacial and Head and Neck Surgery at the Royal Darwin Hospital, Australia, says that there has been a “tsunami” of human papilloma virus (HPV) related cancers in his hospital, and that this trend is indicative of a growing threat worldwide.

“High-risk behaviors are oral sex, multiple kissing partners, and more recently there are reports even ‘petting’ can lead to infection,” warned Thomas. “If someone has kissed in excess of six people their risk of contracting HPV is higher, or if someone has kissed in excess of nine people the risk is significantly higher again.”

HPV is actually a relatively common infection that is believed to infect around 8 out of 10 people at some point in their life. There are hundreds of different strains of HPV, however, and the vast majority of those strains do not cause cancer. Only about 15 are of the cancer-causing variety, and even these so-called “high risk” HPV types do not always cause cancer in those infected. It is most transmittable through oral sex or kissing, and is most associated with mouth, throat and cervical cancers.

Although drinking alcohol and smoking are thought to be the main risk factors for developing mouth and throat cancers, growing evidence suggests that HPV infection could be right up there too. For instance, Cancer Research UK reports that more than 40 percent of oral cancers can be linked to HPV infection, though these numbers can vary worldwide. In the U.S., as many as 70 percent of cases of oropharynx cancer (cancer in the back of the throat) are thought to be caused by one particular strain of HPV.

Dr. Thomas’ claim that kissing has overtaken smoking as a risk factor for cancer may have a tad of hyperbole attached to it, but it’s certainly true that HPV-related cancers appear to be on the rise, and kissing is one form of transmission. In Australia’s Northern Territory, where Dr. Thomas practices, rates of head and neck cancers are well above the Australian average, and it is particularly high in ­indigenous males.

Due to the fact that HPV has long been associated with cervical cancer, it’s a common misconception that only women are at threat from this virus. Actually, straight men in their 40s and 50s are the most likely to be infected due to the fact that oral sex on a woman is riskier than oral sex on a man, because the virus is shed easier by the vulva than it is by the penis.

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Rodeo Competitor Speaks to Youth to Spread Anti-Tobacco Message

Fri, Aug 14, 2015

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Source: www.prnewswire.com
Author: Oral Cancer Foundation
 
Unknown-1Cody Kiser prepares for competition while sporting the Oral Cancer Foundation’s message – Be Smart. Don’t Start.

 

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif., Aug. 14, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The traditional image of the American cowboy is one of strength, rugged determination and courage. In the world of professional rodeo competition, that image is no different. Cowboys—and increasingly so cowgirls—are held in esteem and looked at as heroes by young and old alike. The power of the cowboy as a compelling figure has not gone unnoticed by the tobacco industry, whose marketing campaigns have sought to tie the ideals of the cowboy with the use of their products. The western/rodeo environment in the US has had a long-term relationship with tobacco, and until 2009 The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) and the rodeos that they sanctioned had a lengthy history of tobacco money funding the sport. While that has ended at PRCA events, tobacco use and smokeless/spit tobaccos are still popular within the sport.

The Oral Cancer Foundation (OCF) believes that in order to solve problems you must engage the problem at the source. As a small and growing non-profit, OCF is not afforded the luxury of relying on conventional methods of outreach utilized by larger, more established charities. To enact meaningful change and bring awareness to the public, OCF must employ ingenuity and creativity to address the problems at hand. Within the world of professional rodeo, that problem remains to be the glorification and pervasive use of tobacco products amongst athletes and fans. The Oral Cancer Foundation is the first non-profit charity to ever sponsor a rodeo competitor, and in doing so is able to introduce a new type of role model into the rodeo world.

In 2014 OCF partnered with Cody Kiser, a young, personable, up and coming bareback bronc rider to promote the foundation’s anti-tobacco campaign. As a spokesperson for the foundation Cody hopes to serve as a positive role model for children and teens that look up to cowboys as their heroes in the rodeo world. Research shows that as many as 15% of high school boys use smokeless tobacco in the United States. With the nicotine content in a can of dip equaling approximately that of 80 cigarettes, this addiction can be one of the hardest to break, which is why The Oral Cancer Foundation hopes to educate parents and youth about the dangers before they even get started.

On June 11th Cody attended the Montana High School Rodeo Association’s (MHSRA), reACT Tobacco Free Rodeo Finals, in Kalispell, MT, speaking to youth and their parents. ReACT Tobacco Free Rodeo is a campaign sponsored by the Montana Tobacco Use Prevention Program empowering teens to take a stand against tobacco and honoring rodeo athletes who pledge to live tobacco free. This year reACT awarded five MHSRA Seniors with $5,000 scholarships towards their college educations, and 14 high-scoring student athletes received breast collars in recognition of their achievements and commitments to living tobacco free.

As motivational speaker, Cody discussed how Rodeo culture has been inundated by tobacco companies, and how this is a new generation that can make a difference by taking a stand against tobacco companies that use the country way of life to market a deadly product. The forty-five minute presentation focused on how living a tobacco-free lifestyle has assisted Cody in making good choices and accomplishing his dreams. Cody stressed to the teens in attendance that they each had a choice, and in choosing to live tobacco free they also had the power to fulfill their own dreams and enact meaningful change.

While adults certainly have the right to make any lifestyle choice they desire, they inadvertently expose impressionable young people to what are sometimes harmful habits through poor examples like the use of tobacco products. This is particularly harmful as kids look up to athletes, not just in rodeo, but major league baseball and elsewhere, as heroes that they aspire to be like. Unfortunately, no hero is ever perfect. OCF uses its Rodeo Campaign to put alternative role models out in the world of rodeo cowboy athletes, with the intention of reaching young people before they make addictive choices that will harm them later in life. The foundation’s message is simple and straightforward: Be Smart. Don’t Start.

About the Oral Cancer Foundation

The Oral Cancer Foundation, founded by oral cancer survivor Brian R. Hill, is an IRS registered non-profit 501(c)(3) public service charity that provides information, patient support, sponsorship of research, and advocacy related to this disease. Oral cancer is the largest group of those cancers that fall into the head and neck cancer category. Common names for it include such things as mouth cancer, tongue cancer, head and neck cancer, and throat cancer. OCF maintains a web site at http://www.oralcancer.org, which receives millions of hits per month. Supporting the foundation’s goals is a scientific advisory board composed of leading cancer authorities from varied medical and dental specialties, and from prominent educational, treatment, and research institutions in the United States.

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AstraZeneca joins the world of immunotherapy against cancer

Thu, Aug 13, 2015

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Source: www.youthhealthmag.com
Author: staff

Cancer drug companies have been fighting lately in a completely different and interesting arena: immunotherapy. The competition is indeed heating up that firms such as AstraZeneca are willing to pay millions of dollars for promising treatments. AstraZeneca, through its research company called MedImmune, has just recently announced its decision to purchase a novel drug INO-3112 from Inovio, based in Pennsylvania, for a staggering price tag of $727 million.

INO-3112 is a drug for immunotherapy, a new way of combating cancer by boosting the body’s immune system. This then allows the antibodies and specific cells to fight off the tumor. The treatment may also provide synthetic proteins to boost the body’s fighting chance.

MedImmune believes that with the proper immunotherapy protocol for the patient, conventional methods such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy, which have plenty of serious risks, can now be significantly reduced, if not eliminated. In fact, patients may no longer have to go through surgery, which is a common first-line treatment.

While AstraZeneca already has immunotherapy products in the market, the acquisition of INO-3112 will make it an instrument for combination therapies.

As for Inovio, the drug, which is still not approved, is currently in the advanced stages of the clinical trials. It will be intended for treating head and neck cancers, as well as cervical cancer. While there are already cervical cancer vaccines, they cite the rather poor record of them. Their drug, on the other hand, will work on modifying DNA sequencing that will trigger the manufacture of certain T-cells, which will then curb tumor growth.

So far, MedImmune has already paid its down payment of $27.5 million. The remaining amount will be given as the research and drug reach certain milestones. The company will also pay for the research.

The partnership is also set to increase the revenues of Inovio as it receives a share in the drug’s sale. Both will also be working on cancer vaccines.

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Professor creates a tool to help diagnose certain cancers early

Thu, Aug 13, 2015

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Source: www.portsmouth.co.uk
Author: staff

Professor Peter Brennan from Portsmouth has been appointed as the 2016 president of the British Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons. He has been given a £30,000 president fund, and has chosen to use the cash to benefit not only patients in Portsmouth, but around the country. He is writing a book and online tool which will be sent to every GP practice in England. It will assist GPs in spotting warning signs and symptoms of head and neck cancer and other tumour issues that could be fatal.

Prof Brennan, a consultant oral and maxillofacial surgeon at Portsmouth Hospitals Trust, explained: ‘It can be very hard for non-specialists to detect and diagnose problems, including cancer, in the head and neck. I know that a tool like this will be really beneficial for doctors.

‘I’m delighted to have been elected as president of the surgical association for next year, and I thought long and hard about what to use the grant for.

‘It is designed to be used for the advancement of a speciality, and I wanted to use the money in a way which would have the biggest impact on patients.

‘I’m confident that this will make a real difference, and am looking forward to seeing it being rolled out across the country.’

The scheme has the approval of the Royal College of General Practitioners, the professional body for family doctors in the UK.

Professor Brennan added: ‘The feedback that I had from RCGP is that they love the idea, and are delighted to get involved and endorse it. It’s a very exciting time.’

The book and e-learning tool will be shared with the more than 10,000 GP practices around the country. It is hoped that they will be sent out early next year.

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The case for funding the HPV vaccine for boys

Tue, Aug 11, 2015

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Source: www.thespec.com
Author: Camilla Cornell, Hamilton Spectator

If Tiffany Bond could have had her 25-year-old son inoculated against the human papilloma virus (HPV), she’d have done it in a heartbeat. After all, Bond knows well the pain HPV virus can cause.

Eight years ago, at age 39, Bond flicked back her long hair and touched a lump in her throat. Her doctor’s diagnosis? Bond had oral pharynx cancer — a type of throat cancer caused by the HPV virus. Worse, the cancer had spread into her lymph nodes. She began a seven-week regimen of radiation and chemotherapy treatments so intense that Bond couldn’t eat a thing. She was fed through tubing in her stomach for months and lost about a third of her body weight.

“I was sick to my stomach every day for seven weeks,” Bond says. “There came a point where I just gave up — I wanted to die. It was horrific for my son to watch.”

The good news, says Joanne Di Nardo, a spokesperson for the Ontario branch of the Canadian Cancer Society: There is an HPV vaccine that is 100 per cent effective against many forms of HPV. The bad news? Although all provincial governments administer the vaccine free to girls, in many provinces boys don’t have the same privilege. Only Alberta, Nova Scotia, British Columbia and P.E.I. (either currently or will soon) offer the vaccine free to boys.

“We really need to do some catching up here in Ontario,” says Di Nardo. “Boys are just as much at risk as girls are when it comes to getting HPV-related cancers.”

Bond sees it as a prevention issue. Most people — like her — don’t even know they’ve been exposed to HPV, she says, so it’s easy to pass back and forth. And yet, points out Eduardo Franco, chair of the department of oncology at McGill University, “about one in 20 of all human cancers are caused by one or more of the different strains of human papillomavirus.”

Cervical cancer in women is the most significant, Franco says, but HPV is also associated with genital and anal cancers in men and women, as well as vulva or vaginal cancer and penile cancer. And oral pharyngeal cancer — diagnosed three times more often in men than in women — is rapidly gaining ground. “We’re seeing an upsurge of pharyngeal and oral cavity cancer because of oral HPV transmission,” confirms Franco.

The vaccine would do double duty, he says, by preventing cancers directly in the vaccinated boys, and also by extending “herd protection” to society generally.

“It would be interrupting the chain of transmission both for men and women,” Franco says, “because even those who aren’t vaccinated will eventually have decreased probability of having sex with someone who has been infected.”

Vaccinating boys against HPV is particularly important in provinces like Ontario, says Franco, because only about 60 per cent of girls are vaccinated, compared to 85 per cent in Quebec.

On the plus side, the cost of the HPV vaccine has dropped in recent years, from about $130 per dose to $100 per dose. And at the beginning of this year, the National Advisory Commission on Immunization recommended that for young people, ages 9 to 14, only two doses are needed over a six-month period, instead of the previously recommended three.

If girls got two doses of the vaccine instead of three and the government reaped the economies of scale associated with bulk buying for both boys and girls, that would make it cost-effective to vaccinate boys, points out Franco.

As it stands now, says Di Nardo, if you want to have “your young men” vaccinated, you’ll pay hundreds of dollars out of pocket. Di Nardo believes that policy is short-sighted and urges people to contact their MPPs about the issue or to visit the CCS’s advocacy site (takeaction.cancer.ca). “If you have a vaccine to prevent cancer, should we not all be getting it?” she asks. “Boys and girls.”

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AstraZenica, Inovio strike deal to find HPV cancer vaccine

Mon, Aug 10, 2015

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Source: www.philly.com
Author: David Sell
 

Local drugmakers – big and small – struck a deal to try to develop a vaccine to prevent a form of cervical, head and neck cancer.

 MedImmune, which is the biologics and research division with AstraZeneca, said Monday it will collaborate with Inovio Pharmaceuticals to develop an early stage cancer vaccine designed to treat human pappilomavirus.

 AstraZeneca will pay Inovio $27.5 million upfront. If the compound reaches development and commercial milestones, Inovio could get up to $700 million, along with “double-digit tiered royalties” on product sales. However, sales are a long way off because the compound is only in phase I and phase II of what is normally a three-phase clinical trial process.

 AstraZeneca is moving its headquarters from London to Cambridge in the United Kingdom, and has operations in Wilmington and Fort Washington. The MedImmune division is headquartered in Gaithersburg, Md.

 Inovio is based in Blue Bell and its basic scientific premise is to use DNA to develop vaccines. unlike most current vaccines.

 The companies have worked together before. The compound at the heart of the latest deal is called INO-3112. The early clinical trials are examining cervical and head and neck camcers and the compound tries to generate “killer T-cell responses that are able to destroy HPV 16- and 18- driven tumors. These HPV types are responsible for more than 70 per cent of cervical pre-cancers and cancers, ” according to the statement.

The full statement from AstraZeneca is here.

*This news story was resourced by the Oral Cancer Foundation, and vetted for appropriateness and accuracy.

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