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Gene-expression-based Biomarker Predicts Long-term Risk of Breast Cancer Recurrence

A comparison of three methods of predicting the risk of recurrence in women treated for estrogen-receptor (ER)-positive breast cancer finds that only the breast cancer index (BCI) – a biomarker based on the expression levels of seven tumor-specific genes – accurately identifies patients who continue to be at risk after five years of treatment with either tamoxifen or the aromatase inhibitor anastrozole. The study comparing the BCI with two other prognostic tests has been published online in Lancet Oncology.

Luminex Corporation Receives FDA and European Clearance for a New Personalized Medicine Genotyping Assay, xTAG CYP2C19 Kit

Luminex Corporation (NASDAQ: LMNX) recently announced it has received U.S. FDA and European clearance for a comprehensive genotyping assay, xTAG® CYP2C19 Kit. This new test enables a personalized approach to aid physicians in determining patient treatment plans based on certain genetic variants of the P450 2C19 gene.

FDA Advisory Committee Recommends Accelerated Approval of Genentech’s Perjeta for Neoadjuvant Use in HER2-Positive Early Stage Breast Cancer

Genentech, a member of the Roche Group (SIX: RO, ROG; OTCQX: RHHBY), recently announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee (ODAC) voted 13 to 0, with one abstention, in favor of recommending accelerated approval of a Perjeta® (pertuzumab) regimen for neoadjuvant treatment (use before surgery) in people with high-risk, HER2-positive early stage breast cancer. The FDA will make a decision on whether or not to approve Perjeta for this use by October 31, 2013. If approved, the Perjeta regimen will be the first neoadjuvant breast cancer treatment approved in the United States and the first treatment approved based on pathological complete response (pCR) data, meaning there is no tumor tissue detectable at the time of surgery.

Perjeta is already approved in a number of countries including the United States for people with HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer (an advanced form of the disease in which the cancer has spread to other parts of the body).

The Perjeta application for neoadjuvant use follows a proposed new FDA pathway designed to more quickly bring promising medicines to people with earlier stages of breast cancer, where treatment may have a greater impact.

“More than 6,000 people in the United States die of HER2-positive breast cancer each year,” said Hal Barron, M.D., chief medical officer and head, Global Product Development. “The ODAC’s recommendation is a step toward bringing Perjeta to people with HER2-positive early stage breast cancer, where treatment can potentially prevent the disease from returning and spreading.”

Neoadjuvant treatment may allow a doctor to quickly assess whether a medicine is working and may also reduce a tumor’s size so it is easier to surgically remove. pCR is a common measure of neoadjuvant treatment effect in breast cancer and can be assessed more quickly than traditional endpoints in early stage breast cancer.

The ODAC recommendation was based on a review of results from NEOSPHERE and TRYPHAENA, two Phase II studies of Perjeta in high-risk, HER2-positive early stage breast cancer, as well as on longer-term safety data from the Phase III CLEOPATRA study of Perjeta in HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer.

The ongoing Phase III APHINITY study will further evaluate Perjeta in the adjuvant setting (after surgery) and compares Perjeta, Herceptin® (trastuzumab) and chemotherapy with Herceptin and chemotherapy in people with HER2-positive early stage breast cancer. The study has completed enrollment with approximately 4,800 people, and the primary endpoint is invasive disease-free survival (IDFS). Genentech has proposed this study as a confirmatory study to the FDA. Data are expected in 2016.

Source: Genentech

Berg Receives Frost & Sullivan 2013 Drug Discovery Technology Innovation Award

Berg, a biopharmaceutical company committed to uncovering health solutions through a data-driven, biological research approach, was recently recognized with the 2013 North American Drug Discovery Technology Innovation Award at the Frost & Sullivan Growth, Innovation and Leadership Awards Gala, the annual event by the global research organization that highlights the most promising new innovative technology across sectors.

Mayo Clinic Researchers Identify Biomarker for Smoker’s Lung Cancer

Mayo Clinic researchers have shown that a specific protein pair may be a successful prognostic biomarker for identifying smoking-related lung cancers. The protein — ASCL1 — is associated with increased expression of the RET oncogene, a particular cancer-causing gene called RET. The findings appear in the online issue of the journal Oncogene.

“This is exciting because we’ve found what we believe to be a ‘drugable target’ here,” says George Vasmatzis, Ph.D., a Mayo Clinic molecular medicine researcher and senior author on the study. “It’s a clear biomarker for aggressive adenocarcinomas. These are the fast-growing cancer cells found in smokers’ lungs.”

ASCL1 is known to control neuroendocrine cell development and was previously linked to regulation of thyroid and small cell lung cancer development, but not smoking-related lung cancer. The research also showed that patients with ASCL1 tumors with high levels of the RET oncogene protein did not survive as long as ASCL1 patients with low levels of RET.

When researchers blocked the ASCL1 protein in lung cancer cell lines expressing both genes, the level of RET decreased and tumor growth slowed. This leads researchers to believe this mechanism will be a promising target for potential drugs and a strong candidate for clinical trials.

The co-authors of the study include Farhad Kosari, Ph.D.; Cristiane Ida, M.D.; Marie Christine Aubry, M.D.; Lin Yang, Ph.D.; Irina Kovtun, Ph.D.; Janet Schaefer Klein; Yan Li, M.D.; Sibel Erdogan; Sandra Tomaszek, M.D.; Stephen Murphy, Ph.D.; Lynn Bolette; Christopher Kolbert; Ping Yang, M.D., Ph.D.; and Dennis Wigle, M.D., Ph.D., all of Mayo Clinic.

The research was supported by a Waterman Biomarker Discovery grant and by the Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine.

Study: ASCL1 and RET expression defines a clinically relevant subgroup of lung adenocarcinoma characterized by neuroendocrine differentiation [Oncogene]

Source: Mayo Clinic