Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Can a Statin Lower Risk for Ovarian Cancer?

                              
The connection between the use of statins and risk reduction for ovarian cancer has been the subject of research going back at least a decade (see https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2910322/ ). Most recently, Kala Visvanathan, M.D., MHS, professor of epidemiology ad oncology at Johns Hopkins, presented her findings at the American Association for Cancer Research (Virtual) Annual Meeting.

The study analyzed data from a Finnish national cancer registry along with prescription drug claims for over 10,000 women between 1995 and 2015. The researchers found that women with all subtypes of ovarian cancer had a lower mortality rate if they took statins. 

Although more research needs to be done, statins are very well tolerated and inexpensive and may prove to be part of the armament of treatment protocols at some point in the future.

To read more about this study, follow this link.


Wednesday, July 15, 2020

2020 TTT Virtual Retreat Forms Are Available Here

A letter from Anne Tonachel, the founder of Turning-the-Tide Ovarian Cancer Retreats. To access the forms from this website, go to the "2020 Retreat Info" section shown above. You will be able to download the forms there.


Turning the Tide Ovarian Cancer Retreats
2020 Virtual Retreat
Thursday, October 1 to Saturday, October 3 
 Registration Opens July 15  

Dear friends, old and new,  
            Turning the Tide (TTT) welcomes you to apply to our first virtual retreat. Registration opens on July 15 and all the paperwork is enclosed.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, our retreats have always taken place at a camp in Maine. This year we have called on the ingenuity and generosity of an amazing group of women, many of whom have attended past retreats, to create a virtual event that honors the most important lessons of the Maine camp. Above all, we will create an environment embodying both joy and reflection to create deep and lasting bonds of support among us as we together face the physical, logistical, emotional and spiritual burdens of an ovarian cancer diagnosis. 
This three-day online space is one that you should treat in the same way that you would carve out time away from home and work to spend in Maine, time to rest, time to share and time to strengthen your resilience. At home you will need a place of privacy for yourself so that each woman attending will feel safe to say whatever she needs to talk about with the group. It is vital that your attention to the retreat be sacred, and that you plan to attend the opening, the discussion gatherings, the closing, and as many of the self-care, arts and exercise classes as possible, as the most important gift you will receive by attending the retreat is the kinship of women facing the same challenges as you and looking for wisdom to move forward,. 
To ensure that the virtual retreat maintains the powerful intimacy of the Maine retreat, there will be a limit to the number of applicants we can accept. There is also a sliding-scale registration fee; however, our policy is that no woman is ever turned away for financial reasons and scholarships are readily available.
            We are excited to welcome both old and new participants to TTT and encourage you to send us your application as soon as registration opens on July 15.

                                                                        Yours,

                                                                        Anne Tonachel

Monday, July 6, 2020

Early Phase 1 Study Shows Promise for Platinum-Resistant Epithelial OC

Good news for women who have platinum-resistant OC and who have had 5 previous types of treatment.

The drug, STRO-002 is a combination antibody-drug conjugate, meaning it combines an antibody with chemo to deliver the medication directly to the cancer cell, hopefully eliminating some adverse side effects associated with off-targeting.

The results were presented at 2020 AACR Virtual Meeting of April 27-28.

Phase1 has been successfully completed which means that the toxic range of the medication has been established and now, Phase 2, will determine the recommended dose. OncLive conducted an interview with one of the lead investigators. Follow this link to the full article.

Friday, July 3, 2020

MGH: Part II - A Guide to Understanding Clinical Trials

Here is Part II of the MGH "A Guide to Understanding Clinical Trials".

Since the start of the SARS-COV-2 (COVID-19) outbreak, scientists have repeatedly advocated for the use of well-structured clinical trials in testing new treatments for the disease. But what does a well-structured trial look like?
In part one of this series, we discussed how clinical trials are set up. In part two, we highlight a few key components to look for when reading about the latest research and clinical trials, because they are not created equal.
Maurizio Fava, MD, Psychiatrist-in-Chief at Massachusetts General Hospital and Director of the Division of Clinical Research of the Mass General Research Institute, stresses the “importance of well-designed studies and clinical trials, as today’s clinical research will help us improve the standard of care of the future. This is absolutely critical for conditions such as COVID-19, given the need to develop ways to both prevent it and treat it.”
Here are a few things to look for to ensure that results are as accurate as possible:

Sample size: The number of patients/participants studied

The number of people involved in a clinical trial is critical because scientists are basing the success of the treatment on how it affects the participants involved. These insights that get applied to an entire population, so ensuring they are as accurate as possible is important for everyone’s safety. 
For example, a treatment that appears to work well in a sample of 20 participants may not work as well when that pool is expanded to hundreds or thousands of participants.
Keep in mind, a small sample size may also make key differences harder to spot and may not be representative of or applicable to a larger population. If a study is done on a small homogenous group with similar demographics (age, health status, ethnicity, gender, etc.), there is no telling how it could affect other demographics.

Placebo: An inactive substance given in the place of a treatment

Placebos are used when there is no existing standard of care to test a new treatment against. They are typically designed to look like the medication that is being tested but do not have a therapeutic effect. 
Testing a new treatment against a placebo gives researchers something to compare their results to and helps to eliminate bias in patient-reported outcomes.

Randomization: Assigning treatments to participants at random

Randomization is the process of randomly assigning patients to either the treatment or control group without considering underlying factors such as disease state, age, weight or medical history.
For example, if all young participants receive an experimental treatment and get better, while all older participants receive standard treatment and fare worse, it would be difficult to prove the experimental treatment was the sole cause of improvement, because age could play a role. 
However, if the experimental treatment was distributed to all participants at random and the health of the experimental group improved (regardless of age), it would be easier to draw more accurate conclusions.

Peer review: A process in which experts in the same field objectively review a scientific study before publication

Peer review is a vetting process that allows impartial subject matter experts who were not involved in the study to review research before it is published. It is critical to scientific discovery because it helps validate and improve the quality of research.
There are some cases where scientists will opt to publish their findings in a non-peer reviewed journal because it is faster and easier than going through the peer review process, but this also means there is potential for errors and findings may not be accepted by the broader scientific community.
Non-peer reviewed studies have become increasingly popular, so when reading about scientific findings or new study results, it is important to check where those results have been published.

Blinded studies: Studies that withhold treatment information from patients or researchers to reduce bias

There are two types of blinded studies: single-blind and double-blind.
  • Single-blind: Researchers know if participants are receiving the treatment or the placebo/standard of care, but participants do not. This helps reduce participant bias by limiting the “placebo effect”—a form of unconscious bias that can sometimes lead people to feel better after believing they have been given a new treatment, even if it was an inert substance or standard treatment.
  • Double-blind: Neither participants nor the researchers know who is receiving treatment. This is considered the “gold standard” in clinical trials because it helps reduce participant and researcher bias. With both groups having little information to influence their perspective, the study is likely to produce more accurate results.
One of the first high profile clinical trials for hydroxychloroquine as a potential treatment for COVID-19 received sharp criticism from the scientific community due to several issues with its structure. 
Critics were quick to point out that the sample size was small with just 42 participants, the control and treatment group participants did not appear to be randomly selected and several negative patient outcomes were excluded from the results.
Two additional studies from The Lancet and The New England Journal of Medicinewere also recently retracted. Findings gathered from The Lancet study were called into question when the scientific community noticed homogenous patient data and potential issues with the statistical analyses. Researchers leading The New England Journal of Medicine study were forced to retract their study when they could not validate their supporting research.
As we move forward and learn of new findings from researchers working to uncover the mechanisms behind disease, it is important to ask questions and critically examine the supporting research before accepting new findings as facts.