Noted This Week

October 5–11

The FDA expanded the use of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine Gardasil 9 (Merck) to include individuals up to age 45. The vaccine, which was approved in 2014 for males and females ages 9 to 26, protects against nine different strains of HPV, including seven than can lead to cancer. The expansion was based on new data showing the vaccine is safe and effective in those over 26.

The investigational RET inhibitor BLU-667 may be an effective treatment for patients with advanced RET-altered medullary or papillary thyroid cancers, according to updated results presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Thyroid Association in Washington, DC. In the phase I ARROW trial, 90% of 35 patients with either cancer type had tumor shrinkage regardless of the type of RET alteration or prior treatment with a multikinase inhibitor. Additionally, 62% of patients with medullary thyroid cancer responded to the drug.

Affimed placed a clinical hold on phase I trials of AFM11, an experimental CD19/CD3-targeting T-cell engager. The hold came after one patient died and two patients experienced life-threatening side effects in trials testing the drug in CD19-positive B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma and acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

A new clinical guideline supports a shorter course of radiation treatment in men with early-stage prostate cancer. The guideline, issued by the American Society for Radiation Oncology, the American Society of Clinical Oncology, and the American Urological Association, recommends offering 4 to 5 weeks of high-dose hypofractionated external beam radiation therapy (EBRT) as an alternative to 8 to 9 weeks of conventional EBRT. The conclusion is based on evidence from 61 studies, including four large clinical trials.

China approved 17 cancer drugs for inclusion on its national health insurance plan, with pharmaceutical companies offering discounts averaging 56.7%. AstraZeneca will provide a 71% discount for its EGFR inhibitor osimertinib (Tagrisso), whereas Pfizer will offer 70% price cuts for the tyrosine kinase inhibitor axitinib (Inlyta) and the MET inhibitor crizotinib (Xalkori). The new prices will be in effect until November 2020.

Tobacco control is the most important factor for U.S. cancer prevention, according to a report published by the American Cancer Society. Researchers found that a decrease in tobacco smoking was responsible for more than half of the 26% decline in U.S. cancer mortality rates observed since 1991, though smoking is still the most common cause of cancer. Other cancer risk factors included obesity, alcohol, diet, and lack of physical activity.


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