Thursday, July 2, 2015

Around the Web: AstraZeneca Edition

Nope, this post is not sponsored. But I did spend last week (well, two days of it) at a conference for oncology bloggers at MedImmune, the global biologics research and development arm of AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals. It seems more and more companies in the healthcare space are taking note of how patients communicate with each other and realizing it might be useful for them to join the conversation.

Deep in thought about oncology topics
"The role of the patient has evolved over time and today patients are more involved than ever in their healthcare and look to one another online for support, advice and a sense of community. AstraZeneca strives to engage with patients to ensure the latest information and support resources are available, and help determine where unmet needs remain."

You can read more about the AZ summit here.

I flew out to Baltimore for less than 30 hours on the ground, a whirlwind of sessions and lab tours and conversations with women I'd only previously known online, one of whom (CJ) cofounded METAvivor and has now been NED for six years. Talk about inspiration.

Here are a few of us touring the lab and looking "distractingly sexy," if I do say so myself.

Touring the Phase I Oncology Lab at MedImmune
Speaking of sexy --  how was that for a transition? -- I'm working on a separate post about one of the summit's sessions. It was led by Dr. Sage Bolte and focused on intimacy after a cancer diagnosis, which is not a typo.

But we still have a lot going on here as a family and I'm in a chemo fog this week, so please be patient with me. In the meantime, here's what I've seen around the web since I last posted this series. One of these days, I'll try to be regular about it!

Even More Reason to Cut Back on Stress After a Cancer Diagnosis

"Recently, researchers have discovered that the hormone progesterone, an ingredient in contraceptives and menopausal hormone replacement therapies, might stimulate the growth of breast cancer cells that are resistant to anti-estrogen therapy and chemotherapy. Now, new research published June 22nd in the journal Oncogene, a Nature publication, shows that additional hormones, including stress hormones that are frequently used to treat the side effects of common chemotherapy, could make these effective cancer drugs fail sooner in some women with breast cancer. But there may be ways to counteract the effect."

Promising Results in the Paloma-III Trial for Ibrance/Letrozol

(Which, if you'll remember, was fast-tracked for FDA approval pre-trial results back in February.)

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Liquid Biopsies Are All the Rage, But Are They Helping Patients Yet?

"So far, most insurers, including Medicare, don’t pay for these kinds of tests. They don’t think it’s their role to underwrite what looks like a research experiment. Health insurer Anthem labels the tests “investigational and not medically necessary.” Cigna calls them “unproven.”

Eventually, the most important use of liquid biopsies should be to catch signs of cancer early, before symptoms arise—when a surgeon can cure it by cutting it out (see “Spotting Cancer in a Vial of Blood”). Such screening could profoundly reshape cancer medicine.

For now, though, they are being used as “theragnostics”—that is, tests that guide decisions about treatment."

THIS is Why We Walked and Lobbied All Over Capitol Hill

"Cyrus Ghajar, Ph.D., a metastatic breast cancer researcher at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, has received a $4.1 million Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program (BCRP) “Era of Hope” Scholar Award.

The Department of Defense’s BCRP is the second biggest funder of breast cancer research in the U.S. Its Era of Hope award encourages high-impact, collaborative research, particularly among innovative young researchers."

Huge Implications for the Future of Treating Genetic Cancers

“In 10, 15 years, our relationship with genetic disease will be very different from today,” says Jacob Corn, managing director of the Innovative Genomics Initiative—a joint effort of UC Berkeley and the University of California, San Francisco—which is collaborating with drug maker AstraZeneca on using Crispr-Cas9 to gain a better understanding of diseases. “It will be, ‘Oh, my child was born with sickle cell. We’re just going to change that.’ ”

Why Nearly EVERYONE is Excited about Immunotherapy

"10 years to cancer cures 'actually plausible,' Fred Hutch president says. . ."

“And I’ve never seen anything like this in my life,” Gilliland continued. “You give this cell-based therapy that was developed by [Drs.] Stan Riddell and Phil Greenberg at the Hutch, and these tumors just melt away. People go into continuous, complete remission. You don’t need to keep giving the drug, you give it once. One infusion — that’s it.”

The potential for extending this powerful approach into other types of cancer, especially solid tumors, has created a sense of urgency among researchers at Fred Hutch and elsewhere."

An Illustration of How Immunotherapy Works

1 comment:

  1. Stress studies always freak me out a bit. My breast cancer came back after a particularly stressful time at work. Always makes me squeamish. Yay for immunology!