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American Association for Cancer Research, April 18-22

Last Updated: April 23, 2015.

The American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting

The annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research was held from April 18 to 22 in Philadelphia and attracted approximately 18,000 participants from around the world, including scientists, cancer survivors, clinicians, allied health professionals, and industry professionals. The conference highlighted recent advances in the treatment, management, and prevention of cancer.

In one study, Joaquin Mateo, M.D., of the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust in the United Kingdom, and colleagues found that olaparib is effective for a subgroup of patients with advanced prostate cancer who have specific DNA mutations.

"One-third of patients with advanced prostate cancers responded to treatment with the poly ADP-ribose polymerase (PARP) inhibitor olaparib. In almost all of them, we found genetic defects in a number of genes involved in the DNA repair pathway, whereas almost none of the patients who did not respond had this genetic profile," Mateo said. "These genetic events include both hereditary (germline) and sporadic (somatic) mutations in BRCA1/2 but also in other genes such as ATM, FANC-A or PALB2, confirming prior preclinical experiments suggesting loss of function in these genes sensitizes tumors to PARP inhibition."

The investigators are now conducting a second validation trial that will prospectively screen patients for these mutations in the genes of interest.

"This could be the first step towards molecular stratification of treatments for prostate cancer, as currently we do not have predictive biomarkers for any of the approved drugs in this disease," Mateo added.

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In another study, Leisha A. Emens, M.D., of the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center in Baltimore, and colleagues found that an investigational PD-L1-targeted immunotherapy, MPDL3280A, is safe and effective in patients with triple-negative breast cancer.

"The latest analysis of our data revealed a 24-week progression-free survival rate of 27 percent, with an objective response rate of 19 percent, and three of four responses are ongoing," Emens said in a statement. "This is very exciting because longer responses are not typical of what occurs when patients with metastatic triple-negative breast cancer are treated with chemotherapy, which is the standard of care for this population. However, we need to validate these findings in larger cohorts of patients."

In this phase 1 study, the investigators evaluated 54 patients with metastatic triple-negative breast cancer, including 69 percent who were considered PD-L1-positive. Among the 54 patients evaluated, 63 percent experienced at least one drug-related adverse event. The most common adverse events included fatigue, fever, nausea, and loss of appetite.

The study was funded by Genentech, the developer of MPDL3280A; one author disclosed financial ties to Genentech and other pharmaceutical companies.

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Jonas Nilsson, M.D., of Umeå University in Sweden, and colleagues evaluated the effectiveness of a blood-based "liquid-biopsy" to detect the presence of blood platelets of EML4-ALK in patients with non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The investigators assessed blood samples from 77 patients with NSCLC with known mutation status. The investigators identified 38 patients with EML4-ALK rearrangements in the tumor. Further analysis revealed that 29 patients whose blood test was positive for EML4-ALK and were treated with crizotinib had lower progression-free survival as compared to those who were negative for EML4-ALK.

"We showed that if we detected EML4-ALK in the platelet fraction before therapy starts and it does not disappear during treatment, it indicates that the patient is not responding to the therapy, which is associated with a shorter time to recurrence and, therefore, other therapies could be tried," Nilsson said in a statement.

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AACR: Metformin Benefit Lacking in Pancreatic Ductal CA

WEDNESDAY, April 22, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Despite evidence that has suggested metformin might have potential in cancer, a new study finds the medication doesn't help patients with pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). The study was to be presented Tuesday at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research, held from April 18 to 22 in Philadelphia.

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AACR: Dense Breasts Found More Likely in Black Women

TUESDAY, April 21, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Black women are more likely than white women to have dense breasts, potentially boosting their breast cancer risk, according to new research. The findings were to be presented Monday at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research, held from April 18 to 22 in Philadelphia.

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AACR: Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors Promising in Melanoma

MONDAY, April 20, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Immune checkpoint inhibitors show promise in treating advanced melanoma, according to a pair of clinical trials published online April 19 and 20 in the New England Journal of Medicine. The research was published to coincide with the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research, held from April 18 to 22 in Philadelphia.

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AACR: Changes Expected in Breast Cancer Rates

MONDAY, April 20, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- The number of U.S. women diagnosed with breast cancer could rise by as much as 50 percent within the next 15 years, according to new government predictions. The findings were to be presented Monday at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research, held from April 18 to 22 in Philadelphia.

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AACR: Pembrolizumab Shows Promise in Advanced Lung Cancer

MONDAY, April 20, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Programmed cell death 1 (PD-1) inhibition with pembrolizumab is showing early promise for some patients with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer, according to preliminary findings published online April 19 in the New England Journal of Medicine. The research was published to coincide with the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research, held from April 18 to 22 in Philadelphia.

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AACR: Regular Aspirin Use Linked to Lower GI Cancer Risk

MONDAY, April 20, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Taking aspirin regularly over several years may help prevent gastrointestinal cancers, a new study suggests. The research was to be presented Sunday at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research, held from April 18 to 22 in Philadelphia.

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AACR: Longer Nighttime Fasting May Reduce Breast Cancer Risk

MONDAY, April 20, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Longer nighttime fasting duration is associated with improved glycemic regulation, and in turn, may reduce a woman's risk for breast cancer by improving biomarkers of glycemic control. The findings were published online April 20 in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention to coincide with the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research, held from April 18 to 22 in Philadelphia.

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