Value Propositions

August 2014, Vol 5, No 6 - Value Propositions

Value of Low-Dose Aspirin for the Prevention of Pancreatic Cancer

Results of a new study by the American Association for Cancer Research suggest that the long-term use of low-dose aspirin lowers the risk for developing pancreatic cancer (Streicher SA, et al. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2014;23:1254-1263).

“We found that the use of low-dose aspirin was associated with cutting the risk of pancreatic cancer in half, with some evidence that the longer low-dose aspirin was used, the lower the risk,” said Harvey A. Risch, MD, PhD, Professor of Epidemiology, Yale School of Public Health. A dose of 75 mg to 325 mg daily was defined as low dose in this study. The risk reduction was 39% for patients who took low-dose aspirin for ?6 years and 60% for those who took the drug for >10 years.

“Because about one in 60 adults will get pancreatic cancer and the five-year survival rate is less than 5 percent, it is crucial to find ways to prevent this disease,” said Dr Risch. American Association for Cancer Research press release; June 26, 2014

A Simple Blood Test Can Accurately Identify 3 Types of Cancer

A new blood test, the Lymphocyte Genome Sensitivity (LGS) test, was developed at the University of Bradford, United Kingdom, and may soon offer a new, noninvasive way of diagnosing 3 types of cancer—melanoma, colon cancer, and lung cancer. If the results are confirmed in an ongoing clinical trial, this simple blood test could be an alternative to invasive procedures, such as colonoscopies or biopsies, in determining whether a person has 1 of these types of cancer, and can save the costs of these more invasive procedures.

The LGS test measures potential damage in the DNA of white blood cells that are subjected to different intensities of ultraviolet (UV) A light. Early results (Anderson D, et al. FASEB J. 2014 Jul 25. Epub ahead of print) suggest that the test has a high degree of accuracy in diagnosing melanoma, lung cancer, and colon cancer, said lead investigator Diana Anderson, PhD, of the School of Life Sciences and School of Health Sciences, University of Bradford, United Kingdom.

“These are early results completed on three different types of cancer and we accept that more research needs to be done; but these results so far are remarkable,” said Dr Anderson. “Whilst the numbers of people we tested are, in epidemiological terms, quite small, in molecular epidemiological terms, the results are powerful.”

The study included blood samples from 208 persons, including 94 healthy individuals and 114 blood samples from individuals suspected of having cancer. The samples were coded, deidentified, and were then randomly exposed to UVA light through 5 different depths of agar.

“We’ve identified significant differences between the healthy volunteers, suspected cancer patients, and confirmed cancer patients of mixed ages at a statistically significant level of P <0.001. This means that the possibility of these results happening by chance is 1 in 1000. We believe that this confirms the test’s potential as a diagnostic tool,” said Dr Anderson.

The test ultimately diagnosed 58 patients with cancer, 56 individuals with precancerous conditions, and 94 healthy individuals. If approved, the test can help to quickly rule out or confirm the 3 types of cancer, saving time and costs. The test may eventually be useful for other types of cancer. As Dr Anderson notes, “We found that people with cancer have DNA which is more easily damaged by ultraviolet light than other people, so the test shows the sensitivity to damage of all the DNA—the genome—in a cell.”

The University of Bradford has filed patents for this new test, and a new company, Oncascan, has been established to prepare the test for use in clinical practice. University of Bradford, United Kingdom, press release; July 28, 2014

New Collaboration Highlights Value of Immunotherapy in Lung Cancer

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute has announced a new collaboration between its Belfer Institute for Applied Cancer Science, Johnson & Johnson Innovation, and Janssen Biotech to identify which patients with lung cancer are most likely to benefit from new-generation immunotherapies, which immunotherapy combinations would be most effective in lung cancer, and look for new biomarkers.

This new collaboration brings together researchers from Janssen and the Belfer Institute’s lung cancer research platform to maximize innovation efforts for this type of cancer. “Harnessing the immune system to fight common and deadly cancers is one of the most exciting areas in oncology,” said Barrett Rollins, MD, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Linde Family Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. “Belfer Institute scientists have unique tools for figuring out how to do this. Through their work with Janssen, a leader in therapeutic innovation, we expect to see

the rapid development of new drugs that will help cancer patients,” Dr Rollins said.

“Immunotherapies have yielded dramatic and durable responses in subsets of cancer patients. In lung cancer there is a tremendous opportunity to enhance patient outcome by understanding why some patients respond to immunotherapy agents while others don’t,” said Kwok-Kin Wong, MD, PhD, Co-Scientific Director of the Belfer Institute. “Our partnership with Janssen will focus on elucidating response and resistance mechanisms so that new therapies can be used to extend lung cancer patients’ lives.” Dana-Farber Cancer Institute press release; June 24, 2014