Noted This Week

October 11–17

Cancer centers are experiencing a shortage of vincristine, a chemotherapeutic used to treat leukemias, lymphomas, and brain tumors, especially in children. The shortage came about after Teva stopped producing vincristine, and Pfizer, the only other manufacturer, encountered production issues. The Children’s Oncology Group has made recommendations for altering clinical trial protocols to use less of the drug, and oncologists may soon be forced to begin rationing it.

Eli Lilly announced that pegilodecakin plus chemotherapy may not be effective in pancreatic cancer. In the phase III SEQUOIA trial, the combination did not extend overall survival compared with chemotherapy alone in patients with metastatic disease who had already received a gemcitabine-containing therapy. The company will continue testing pegilodecakin, a PEGylated form of IL10, in combination with chemotherapy and immunotherapy in non–small cell lung cancer and renal cell carcinoma.

Exercise can reduce the likelihood of developing cancer and improve outcomes when people do develop cancer, according to multiple sources. The guidelines are based on research suggesting that physically active people reduce their risk of being diagnosed with certain malignancies—including colon, breast, endometrial, kidney, bladder, esophageal, and stomach cancers—by as much as 69% compared with those who are sedentary. Further exercise during or after cancer treatment is associated with longer life and improved mood and energy levels. The guidelines were issued by the American Cancer Society, the American College of Sports Medicine, and 15 other organizations.

Syros Pharmaceuticals announced that it will halt development of the intravenous CDK7 inhibitor SY-1365, but it will continue developing the oral CDK7 inhibitor SY-5609. So far, SY-5609 appears more selective and potent, with greater antitumor activity than SY-1365 in preclinical models. The company expects to launch a phase I trial of SY-5609 in solid tumors early next year.

The UK's National Institute for Health and Care Excellence approved rucaparib (Rubraca; Clovis Oncology) as a maintenance therapy in patients with relapsed ovarian, fallopian tube, or peritoneal cancer who responded to platinum-based chemotherapy. The decision was based on the phase III ARIEL3 trial, in which patients treated with the PARP inhibitor had a median progression-free survival of 10.8 months, compared with 5.4 months in patients who received a placebo. The drug will now be available to patients through England’s Cancer Drugs Fund.

Women speaking at cancer conferences are less likely to be addressed by their professional titles than men, according to an analysis on unconscious bias in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. Researchers examined how professional titles were used when speakers were introduced at the American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meetings in 2017 and 2018. They found that women were addressed by their professional titles 62% of the time, compared with 81% in men, a difference that was even more pronounced when men were doing the introductions (53% in women versus 80% in men).


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