Noted This Week

July 12–18

The Biden Cancer Initiative will suspend operations indefinitely in response to former Vice President Joe Biden’s presidential run. Biden started the nonprofit 2 years ago after the creation of the federally funded Beau Biden Cancer Moonshot; the organization’s goal was to facilitate collaboration among researchers, companies, and patient groups. The decision comes amidst concerns about conflicts of interest that the nonprofit creates for Biden regarding drug pricing and pharmaceutical and health care companies.

AbbVie announced that it acquired the biopharmaceutical company Mavupharma for an undisclosed amount. The deal will give AbbVie access to Mavupharma’s pipeline of cancer therapies that target the STING immune pathway. Its lead candidate is MAVU-104, a small-molecule inhibitor of ENPP1, an enzyme involved in STING pathway regulation.

GlaxoSmithKline announced that the PARP inhibitor niraparib (Zejula) may be an effective first-line maintenance therapy in patients with ovarian cancer who have responded to platinum-based chemotherapy. In the phase III PRIMA trial, women treated with the drug had longer progression-free survival than women who received a placebo regardless of biomarker status; full data will be presented at an upcoming medical meeting. Niraparib is already approved for women with ovarian, fallopian tube, or primary peritoneal cancer following at least two lines of platinum-based chemotherapy.

An artificial intelligence tool may be able to predict which pancreatic cysts will become cancerous, according to findings in Science Translational Medicine. The test incorporates measurements of molecular and clinical markers in cyst fluid along with radiologic and clinical information. Researchers “trained” the tool with data from 426 patients and then used it to assess 426 more patients. It accurately identified 60.4% of those who should be discharged, 48.6% of those who should be monitored, and 90.8% of those requiring surgery, compared with 18.9%, 34.3%, and 88.8%, respectively, identified with standard pathology assessments.

The UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommended the CDK4/6 inhibitor ribociclib (Kisqali; Novartis) in combination with fulvestrant for patients with advanced HR-positive, HER2-negative breast cancer following endocrine therapy. NICE previously recommended against the drug due to cost, but since then Novartis has submitted an improved plan for patient access to the therapy. National Health Service England will now make the therapy available to patients through the Cancer Drugs Fund.


Research Watch