UB awarded $1.5 million to reprogram white blood cells in fight against oral cancer

Source: Science Magazine Date: March 25th, 2021 BUFFALO, N.Y. – The University at Buffalo has received a $1.5 million grant from the United States Department of Defense to develop new therapies that help reduce chronic inflammation and immunosuppression in oral cancers. Through the three-year grant, the research will center on a type of white blood cell called a macrophage that – after migrating to oral tumors – triggers uncontrolled inflammation, which suppresses the body’s immune response and lowers the effectiveness of anticancer therapies. The researchers aim to reprogram the macrophages by targeting genes that regulate inflammation. By lowering inflammation, oral cancers will become more sensitive to new and traditional chemotherapies. If successful, the findings could help increase survivorship of oral cancers, which claim the life of roughly half of all oral cancer patients within five years, according to Keith Kirkwood, DDS, PhD, principal investigator, Centennial Endowed Chair and professor of oral biology in the UB School of Dental Medicine. “A change in behavior in the white blood cells within the tumor itself removes the ‘brakes’ in the system, causing more oral cancer growth,” says Kirkwood, also associate dean for innovation and technology transfer in the UB School of Dental Medicine. “We propose to reprogram the white blood cells to regain control of the brakes.” Additional investigators from Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center include Wesley Hicks Jr., MD, DDS, chair of the Department of Head and Neck/Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery; William Magner, PhD, scientist in the Department of Immunology; and Scott [...]

2021-03-26T10:35:32-07:00March, 2021|Oral Cancer News|

Deactivating cancer cell gene boosts immunotherapy for head and neck cancers

Source: newsroom.ucla.edu Author: Brianna Aldrich By targeting an enzyme that plays a key role in head and neck cancer cells, researchers from the UCLA School of Dentistry were able to significantly slow the growth and spread of tumors in mice and enhance the effectiveness of an immunotherapy to which these types of cancers often become resistant. Their findings, published online in the journal Molecular Cell, could help researchers develop more refined approaches to combating highly invasive head and neck squamous cell cancers, which primarily affect the mouth, nose and throat. Immunotherapy, which is used as a clinical treatment for various cancers, harnesses the body’s natural defenses to combat disease. Yet some cancers, including head and neck squamous cell carcinomas, don’t respond as well to the therapy as others do. The prognosis for these head and neck cancers is poor, with a high five-year mortality rate, and there is an urgent need for effective treatments. The UCLA research team, led by distinguished professor Dr. Cun-Yu Wang, chair of oral biology at the dentistry school, demonstrated that by targeting a vulnerability in the cellular process of tumor duplication and immunity, they could affect tumor cells’ response to immunotherapy. The enzyme they focused on, KDM4A, is what is known as an epigenetic factor — a molecule that regulates gene expression, silencing some genes in cells and activating others. In squamous cell head and neck cancers, overexpression of KDM4A promotes gene expression associated with cancer cell replication and spread. It is well known that [...]

Deal-making in head and neck cancer to start yielding dividends for patients

Source: www.thepharmaletter.com Author: staff A frenzy of deal-making activity in head and neck cancer is bringing late-stage clinical candidates into view, according to GlobalData. Intelligence from the data and analytics provider shows that there have been some 340 licensing agreements since 2004 in head and neck cancer, amounting to an approximate total value of $35 billion. Aarohi Rede, oncology analyst at GlobalData, said: “The past few years have seen several licensing deals globally for clinical development in head and neck cancer. Merck KGaA’s collaboration with Debiopharm has the potential to transform the current treatment paradigm for head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) by combining xevinapant, a new molecular entity, with Merck KGaA’s strong commercialization capabilities.” Of the total licensing agreements signed, the highest recorded licensing agreements took place in North America, followed by Asia-Pacific, while the lowest recorded number of deals belonged to South and Central America. Dr Rede added: “Head and neck cancer is largely a chemotherapy-dominated market, but the past few years have seen effective use of Keytruda (pembrolizumab) and Bristol Myers Squibb’s Opdivo (nivolumab) in the recurrent or metastatic settings. The current clinical development pipeline has around 20 late-stage agents in the immuno-modulating therapy or cell inhibitor classes, thus revealing a robust late-stage pipeline that is highly conducive to future partnerships for licensing and commercialization, and is expected to contribute to significant market growth over the next ten years.” Many of these licensing deals involve strategic partnerships between Asia-Pacific, namely Chinese manufacturers, and US pharmaceuticals for [...]

On treating advanced head and neck cancer without cisplatin – an oncology grand rounds discussion

Source: www.medpagetoday.com Author: Mark L. Fuerst An oncology grand rounds discussion with Sachin Jhawar, MD. Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) represents a heterogeneous set of diseases with different features and treatment recommendations. Physicians face challenges in initial treatment decision-making and response assessments, including the changing role of surgery, the incorporation of human papilloma and Epstein Barr virus status, as well as the potential for treatment de-escalation using patient-related and tumor-related factors. A recent "Oncology Grand Rounds" article in the Journal of Clinical Oncology provides an overview of treating advanced HNSCC when cisplatin is not an option, including concurrent chemotherapy, cetuximab, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy. In the following interview, the paper's lead author, Sachin Jhawar, MD, of Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center in Columbus, reviews the main issues. What is the focus of the article? Jhawar: We focused on patients with locally advanced disease who would be receiving definitive non-surgical treatment when possible treatment with concurrent cisplatin, delivered either every 3 weeks or weekly, is always the preferred treatment. We specifically wanted to delve into the subset of patients who we would not recommend to receive cisplatin because of age or comorbidities. This could be concurrent chemotherapy (carboplatin/paclitaxel), concurrent cetuximab, and altered or standard fractionation radiation schedules without systemic therapy, as well as when to consider immunotherapy and palliative radiation for those with recurrent or metastatic disease. There is also a great deal of institutional preference involved. At our institution, we prefer concurrent carboplatin/paclitaxel in patients who cannot [...]

A new type of recyclable: Finding new uses for established drugs

Source: www.eurekalert.org Author: news release Researchers from Tokyo Medical and Dental University (TMDU) uncover potential novel therapeutic strategies for oral and esophageal carcinomas Discovering and treating tumors before they spread throughout the body is key for cancer patients to achieve positive outcomes. When tumor cells spread, which is known as metastasis, they can take over other organs and lead to death. Oral and esophageal carcinomas, or mouth and throat cancers, frequently metastasize to the lymph nodes. Unfortunately, there are currently no therapies that are specific to treating these particular cancers. Now, researchers at Tokyo Medical and Dental University (TMDU) identified several drugs that can possibly be used to treat oral and esophageal carcinomas. In an article published in Molecular Cancer Research, a group of researchers from TMDU found that combining two drugs, pitavastatin and capmatinib, inhibited the viability of oral cancer cells in culture, as well as the growth of tumors in a mouse model. Although esophageal carcinoma is the sixth most deadly cancer worldwide and is relatively well understood at the molecular level, the research has not been translated into specific therapeutic development. Because of this urgent need, the TMDU group became interested in drug repurposing, where a drug that has been approved for a certain disease can be used to effectively treat an additional indication. This concept significantly speeds up the drug discovery and development process, increasing the number of patients that can benefit from an established therapeutic. "Drug repurposing can be extremely helpful for discovering efficacious treatments [...]

First UK clinical trial in proton beam therapy

Source: www.icr.ac.uk Author: staff Image: The Proton Beam Scanner. Credit: The Royal Christie NHS Foundation Trust The first proton beam therapy clinical trial in the UK, co-led by The Institute of Cancer Research, London, is now taking place at The Christie NHS Foundation Trust in Manchester. The trial will determine whether the use of proton beam therapy reduces long-term side effects and improves quality of life for patients treated with radiotherapy for throat cancer. The study, funded by Cancer Research UK with support from The Taylor Family Foundation started last year and, despite the Covid-19 pandemic, is recruiting ahead of target, with 37 patients so far taking part. In total 183 people will take part in the study, about two thirds will receive proton beam therapy, and a third will receive standard radiotherapy. State of the art proton beam therapy Currently all patients allocated proton treatment within the trial, which is called TORPEdO, receive this at the state of the art NHS proton beam therapy centre at The Christie in Manchester, which opened in 2018. Another centre is currently being built at University College London Hospitals. A combination of chemotherapy and radiotherapy is usually effective in curing head and neck cancers, but radiotherapy can damage the healthy surrounding tissue. This can result in severe long-term side effects including dry mouth, loss of taste, difficulty chewing and swallowing and problems with hearing. Some patients might need to use a feeding tube for the rest of their lives. Precisely target [...]

Which COVID-19 vaccine is best for cancer patients?

Source: www.mdanderson.org/ Author: Cynthia DeMarco With three COVID-19 vaccines now authorized for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), you might be wondering which vaccine is best for current and former cancer patients. After reviewing all available data, MD Anderson medical experts agree that all three vaccines are safe and recommended for cancer patients. So, should you take Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine (J&J), which requires only one dose, if that’s what’s available? Or should you wait for one of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, which both require two doses, spaced 21 and 28 days apart, respectively? According to our experts, the answer is clear: “Don’t pass up an opportunity to get the vaccine, no matter which one it is,” says Anita Ying, M.D., vice president of Ambulatory Medical Operations. “The best COVID-19 vaccine to get is the first one available to you.” Timing matters for cancer patients getting a COVID-19 vaccine Ying’s advice is particularly true for cancer patients, since some may be immunocompromised, making them both more vulnerable to severe infections and more likely to need hospitalization should they contract COVID-19. “The sooner you can start building resistance to the novel coronavirus, the sooner you’ll have at least some protection against it,” notes infectious diseases specialist David Tweardy, M.D. “And that benefits everyone.” For patients in active treatment, a COVID-19 vaccine will likely be more effective when coordinated with their treatment schedules. Those who have recently had surgery should wait two weeks before receiving one. [...]

Stress over medical finances tied to worse outcomes for some cancer patients, study finds

Source: www.beckershospitalreview.com Author: Erica Carbajal Head and neck cancer patients who reported high levels of financial worry, or financial toxicity, at the start of treatment were about twice as likely to have worse outcomes, according to research findings published in the April 2021 edition of Oral Oncology. Researchers from Buffalo, N.Y.-based Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center surveyed 284 patients with head and neck cancers to assess their quality of life before and after treatment. The responses were then evaluated in comparison with patients' clinical outcomes. "The association we found was very strong, very concerning," said Anurag Singh, MD, senior study author. "If you are worried about your finances, your risk of dying is roughly double." Researchers performed both multivariable and matched-pair analyses. Results showed those who reported the highest levels of financial toxicity at the start of treatment had worse outcomes in terms of both overall survival and cancer-specific survival. A matched-pair analysis of 66 patients found those with financial toxicity had worse overall survival outcomes, with a hazard ratio of 2.72 and worse cancer-specific survival, with a hazard ratio of 3.75. "We want everyone to be aware of these impacts," Dr. Singh said. "Doctors should consider how financial toxicity may be impacting their patients, and do everything we can to improve our patients' quality of life, and we want to encourage patients to take advantage of financial counseling and every other resource that can lessen their burden." Researchers chose to focus on those with head and neck cancers for [...]

One in three patients with rare cancer are initially misdiagnosed – survey

Source: www.dutchnews.nl Author: staff One-third of people who contract rare types of cancer are initially given the wrong diagnosis, according to new research. In 10% of cases patients had to wait longer than a year to be referred to a hospital by their local doctor, while 8% were not diagnosed until six months after first seeing a specialist. ‘We understand that general practitioners don’t immediately think of cancer in every case, but where there are persistent symptoms rare cancers should be considered,’ said Ajra Broenland, director of the Dutch Federation of Cancer Patient Organisations (NFK). The survey of 2,027 patients was carried out for the NFK by research institute Integraal Kankercentrum Nederland. Around 20,000 people are diagnosed with rare cancers such as vulva, bile duct, and head and neck cancer. The survival rate is around 15% lower than for more common varieties. Half of the patients who took part in the survey were referred to a hospital within two weeks of visiting their doctor, but in 25% of cases the process took longer than three months and 8% waited for over a year. One in three people had to wait more than four weeks from their first appointment with a specialist to receive a diagnosis. ‘It is important to detect cancer at the earliest possible stage,’ said Broenland.

Big Tobacco asks regulator to convince people nicotine isn’t that bad

Source: www.smh.com.au Author: Tiffany Kary Marlboro cigarettes maker Altria Group wants to enlist an unlikely partner in convincing consumers that nicotine isn’t as bad as they think - its regulator. The company asked the US Food and Drug Administration to tackle misperceptions about nicotine as part of a proposed $US100 million ($130 million) advertising campaign to reduce the harm caused by tobacco, according to a letter seen by Bloomberg News. That could be difficult with about three-fourths of US adults incorrectly believing nicotine causes cancer, Altria said in the communication, citing government research. Clearing up the drug’s health risks will be key to the agency reducing smoking because it will help convince cigarette users to switch to non-combustible options for nicotine, the company said. While there are at least 60 well-established carcinogens in cigarette smoke, it’s been known for years that nicotine isn’t the direct cause of many of smoking’s ills. The drug has even been touted as a way to ease tension and sharpen the mind. But nicotine is the ingredient that addicts people to tobacco products, and it has risks, including possibly making people more susceptible to abusing opioids, according to The National Institute on Drug Abuse, a US government agency. The FDA “should commit resources and expertise to correct the deeply entrenched public misperceptions regarding the health risks of nicotine,” Paige Magness, Altria’s senior vice president of regulatory affairs, said in the letter dated February 25. Such a campaign would help the agency by getting more smokers [...]

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