Noted This Week

October 16–22

CRISPR Therapeutics announced positive results but concerning side effects with CTX110 in patients with relapsed/refractory B-cell malignancies. In the phase I CARBON trial, the allogeneic anti-CD19 chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapy elicited complete responses in four of 11 patients. However, three patients developed cytokine release syndrome, one experienced immune effector cell–associated neurotoxicity syndrome, and one died due to side effects of the therapy.

Roche announced that the FDA granted full approval to venetoclax (Venclexta) plus azacitidine, decitabine, or low-dose cytarabine (LDAC) for patients with newly diagnosed acute myeloid leukemia who are 75 or older, or who cannot have chemotherapy. The approval was based on a pair of phase III trials: In VIALE-A, patients treated with the combination had a median overall survival (OS) of 14.7 months, compared with 9.6 months in patients who received azacitidine alone. In VIALE-C, the combination yielded a median complete response of 11.1 months, compared with 8.3 months for LDAC alone.

The American Society for Radiation Oncology released a clinical guideline on radiation therapy for rectal cancer. The document includes recommendations about when to use neoadjuvant radiation, the differences between fractionated radiation and short-course radiation, how to incorporate chemotherapy into treatment prior to surgery, and when and how organs can be preserved during surgery.

The COVID-19 pandemic dramatically cut cancer screenings, diagnoses, and treatments in 2020, according to findings in JCO Clinical Cancer Informatics. Researchers analyzed 6,227,474 medical claims filed in 2020 and found significant decreases in screening between 2019 and 2020: In April, screening dropped by 85% for breast cancer, 75% for lung cancer, 74% for colon cancer, and 56% for prostate cancer. There were also decreases in cancer biopsies, as well as chemotherapy and surgery—including mastectomies, colectomies, and prostatectomies.

A Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report suggests that more prostate cancers are being diagnosed at a later stage. Researchers analyzed data on prostate cancer incidence and survival in the United States between 2001 and 2017. They found that the rate of distant-stage prostate cancer increased from 4% in 2003 to 8% in 2017. However, the 5-year survival rate for advanced disease improved from 28.7% during 2001–2005 to 32.3% during 2011–2016.

Europe's Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use recommended approval of nivolumab (Opdivo; Bristol Myers Squibb) for patients with inoperable advanced, recurrent, or metastatic esophageal squamous cell carcinoma who have already received chemotherapy. The recommendation was based on the phase III ATTRACTION-3 trial, in which patients treated with the PD-1 inhibitor had an 18-month OS rate of 31%, compared with 21% in patients who received chemotherapy. The FDA granted the drug a similar approval earlier this year.


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