John Byrd, MD
Novel Agent Active Against Chronic Leukemia
An interim analysis of a phase II clinical trial indicated that an experimental agent for treating chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is active and well-tolerated both in patients undergoing initial treatment and in those who have relapsed and are resistant to other therapy. The agent, PCI-32765, was the first drug designed to target Bruton’s tyrosine kinase, a molecule that is essential for CLL cells to grow and proliferate. Study leader John C. Byrd, MD, says the early findings suggest that this agent is an active oral therapeutic that produces a high rate of durable remissions with acceptable toxicity in relapsed and refractory CLL. He presented the findings at the 2011 American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting.
Pravin Kaumaya, PhD
An early-phase clinical trial on the safety of a vaccine designed to prevent several types of solid tumors opened in July 2011 at the OSUCCC – James. The vaccine targets two regions of the human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER-2), a molecule that occurs at abnormally high levels in up to 30 percent of breast cancers. Another component of the vaccine targets HER-1 (EGFR), a molecule that is overexpressed in many other solid tumors, including ovarian, renal, colon, lung and gastrointestinal cancers. Study leader Pravin Kaumaya, PhD, led development of the vaccine and the protocol for this National Cancer Institute (NCI)-funded trial. Tanios Bekaii-Saab, MD, is the clinical principal investigator, and William Carson III, MD, is co-principal investigator.
Research at the OSUCCC – James showed that loss of a gene called NFKBIA promotes the growth of glioblastoma multiforme, the most common and deadly form of brain cancer. Published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the study suggested that therapies to stabilize this gene may improve survival for certain patients. Senior co-author Arnab Chakravarti, MD, says investigators showed that NFKBIA status may be an independent predictor of survival in some patient populations. They also showed that this gene plays a key role in glioblastoma behavior, and that it could be useful for predicting treatment outcomes. Chakravarti, along with Markus Bredel, MD, PhD, and colleagues analyzed data from 790 cases of glioblastoma for this study.
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