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Researchers identify mechanism used by gene to promote metastasis in human cancer cells

September 30, 2008

By Sathy Achia Abraham, Virginia Commonwealth University

Virginia Commonwealth University Institute of Molecular Medicine and VCU Massey Cancer Center researchers have discovered how a gene, melanoma differentiation associated gene-9/syntenin (mda-9/syntenin), interacts with an important signaling protein to promote metastasis in human melanoma cells, a discovery that could one day lead to the development of the next generation of anti-metastatic drugs for melanoma and other cancers.

Metastatic disease is one of the primary challenges in cancer therapy. When cancer cells are localized in the body, specialists may be able to surgically remove the diseased area. However, when cancer metastasizes or spreads to sites remote from the primary tumor through the lymph system and blood vessels to new target sites, treatment becomes more difficult and in many instances ineffective.

Thymidine phosphorylase expression is associated with time to progression in patients receiving low-dose, docetaxel-modulated ca

September 16, 2008

By Annals of Oncology

Background: Preclinical data have indicated a synergistic interaction between docetaxel and capecitabine by means of taxane-induced up-regulation of thymidine phosphorylase (TP). On the basis of such premises, we conducted a phase II trial to determine the activity and tolerability of weekly docetaxel plus capecitabine in patients with metastatic breast cancer (MBC). Furthermore, we explored the relationship between TP tumor expression and benefit from this regimen.

Impact of lapatinib plus trastuzumab versus single-agent lapatinib on quality of life (QOL) of patients with trastuzumab-refract

September 15, 2008

By ASCO

H. J. Burstein, K. Blackwell, Y. Wu, A. Storniolo, H. Rugo, M. Amonkar, C. Ellis, G. Sledge, J. Baselga, J. O’Shaughnessy

Abstract: Background: Women with HER2+ MBC who had progressed on at least 1 trastuzumab (T)-containing regimen received lapatinib (L) plus T (L+T) or L alone in a phase III randomized, open-label study. Crossover to L+T was allowed after progression on L monotherapy. The effect of treatments on health-related QOL was assessed. Methods: QOL was assessed using the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Breast (FACT-B) questionnaire. Outcome measures included FACT-B total score, FACT-general (FACT-G) score and trial outcome index (TOI). Higher scores denote better QOL. The questionnaire was completed at baseline, weeks (wk) 4, 12, 16, every 8 wk, and at therapy discontinuation. Changes from baseline scores were analyzed in the ITT population using analysis of covariance with baseline value as a covariate. Analyses based on observed data and also using the last observation carried forward (LOCF) method was performed. Results: Progression free survival was prolonged significantly 

Clinical outcomes after a diagnosis of brain metastases in patients with estrogen- and/or human epidermal growth factor receptor

September 15, 2008

By Annals of Oncology

Background: Women with triple-negative (TN) breast cancer are at increased risk of distant metastases and have reduced survival versus other breast cancer patients. Relative survival of women with TN breast cancer who develop brain metastases is unknown. Methods: Patients with breast cancer who developed brain metastases at our institution from 1993 to 2006 were reviewed. Four survival time intervals were compared in patients with TN disease and those with non-TN disease: initial diagnosis to distant metastases, distant metastases to brain metastases, brain metastases to death, and overall diagnosis to death.

Results: One hundred and eighteen patients were identified. Fifty-one (50%) of 103 were estrogen receptor positive, 26 (39%) of 67 were human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 positive, and 20 (22%) of 91 were TN. Survival times were shorter for TN patients, with overall survival of 26 months in TN patients versus 49 months for non-TN patients. In TN patients, time to development of distant metastases, brain metastases, and death after brain metastases was shorter than in non-TN patients.

Conclusion: Patients with TN disease were more likely to develop distant metastases earlier than non-TN patients, developed brain metastases sooner, and had shorter overall survival.

Conversion in HER2 Status May Be Associated With Incomplete Response to Trastuzumab Therapy: Presented at ASCO-Breast

September 10, 2008

By Charles Bankhead, MedPage Today

 Almost a third of incomplete responses to trastuzumab (Herceptin) may involve breast tumors that convert from HER2-positive to negative status, according to a study reported here.

ASCO Breast: Survival in Metastatic Breast Cancer Static Despite New Agents

September 9, 2008

By Charles Bankhead, MedPageToday

WASHINGTON — Survival in metastatic breast cancer has barely improved despite new therapeutic agents developed in the past decade, according to a retrospective review of clinical experience

National Breast Cancer Grant Awarded to UAMS

September 5, 2008

By KARK 4 News

A researcher at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) is among a highly selective group of scientists to receive a breast cancer research award from the U.S. Department of Defense.
Thomas Kelly, Ph.D., associate professor of pathology at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), was awarded the department’s Synergistic Idea Award for his breast cancer research project focusing on the role of fibroblast activation protein-alpha (FAP) in breast cancer metastasis

Drug Re-Sensitizes Breast Tumors to Treatment

September 5, 2008

By Washington Post

The drug sorafenib may help “re-sensitize” certain breast cancer tumors to anti-hormonal drugs, Georgetown University Medical Center researchers say.

Women with estrogen-receptor or progesterone-receptor positive (ER or PR positive) metastatic breast cancers often take anti-hormonal medicines, such as aromatase inhibitors, to keep the cancer under control. Aromatase inhibitors lower the amount of estrogen in the body.

However, the tumor eventually becomes resistant to anti-hormonal drugs, and the cancer begins to grow.

M. D. Anderson study finds change in HER2 status after treatment with Herceptin

September 3, 2008

By Laura Sussman, University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center

WASHINGTON, DC : Researchers at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center have discovered that when treated with Herceptin prior to surgery, 50 percent of HER2 positive, breast cancer patients showed no signs of disease at the time of surgery. However, of those women who had residual disease, about one-third had tumors that converted from HER2 positive to HER 2 negative status —possibly indicating a resistance to the targeted therapy.

The study will be presented today in advance of the American Society for Clinical Oncology Breast Cancer Symposium.

Approximately 30 percent of breast cancer cells have an excess amount of the HER2 protein on their surface, which makes the cancer more aggressive. Herceptin, also known as trastuzumab, is a monoclonal antibody that latches on to these proteins and inhibits tumor growth. It was approved in 1998 for women whose advanced, metastatic breast cancer is HER2-positive; it was approved in 2006 for use in the early setting.