Thursday, November 29, 2018

Sound and Light Could Detect OC Earlier

Researchers have found an innovative way to use sound and light, or photoacoustic, imaging to diagnose ovarian tumors. The method may lead to a promising new diagnostic imaging technique to improve current standard of care for patients with ovarian cancer.
Ovarian cancer claims the lives of more than 14,000 women in the US each year, ranking fifth among cancer deaths in women.
Researchers recently conducted a pilot study using co-registered photoacoustic tomography with ultrasound to evaluate ovarian tumors in 16 patients. The findings appear in Radiology.
“When ovarian cancer is detected at an early, localized stage—stage 1 or 2—the five-year survival rate after surgery and chemotherapy is 70 to 90 percent, compared with 20 percent or less when it is diagnosed at later stages, 3 or 4,” says Quing Zhu, professor of biomedical engineering in the School of Engineering & Applied Science at Washington University in St. Louis and of radiology.
“Clearly, early detection is critical, yet due the lack of effective screening tools only 20-25 percent of ovarian cancers are diagnosed early. If detected in later stages, the survival rate is very low,” Zhu says.

Detailed Look

In their approach, researchers use a transvaginal ultrasound to obtain information about ovarian tumors, but ultrasound lacks accuracy in diagnosis of ovarian masses, Zhu says.
Photoacoustic tomography, however, gives researchers a very detailed look at the tumor’s vasculature, or tumor angiogenesis, and blood oxygen saturation (sO2) by lighting up the tumor’s vasculature bed and allowing for more accurate diagnoses of ovarian masses seen by ultrasound.
Both tumor angiogenesis and tumor sO2 are related to tumor growth, metabolism, and therapeutic response.
For the study, Zhu and her team created a sheath with optical fibers that wrap around a standard transvaginal ultrasound probe. The optical fibers are connected to a laser. Once the probe is inside the patient, Zhu turns the laser on, which shines through the vaginal muscle wall.
With photoacoustic tomography, the light from the laser propagates, the tumor absorbs it, and it generates sound waves, revealing information about the tumor angiogenesis and sO2 inside the ultrasound-visible ovaries. A normal ovary contains a lot of collagen, Zhu says, but an ovary with invasive cancers has extensive blood vessels and lower sO2.

Information and Assurance

The team used two biomarkers to characterize the ovaries: relative total hemoglobin concentration (rHbT), which is directly related to tumor angiogenesis, and mean oxygen saturation (sO2).
They found that the rHbT was 1.9 times higher for invasive epithelial cancerous ovaries, which make up 90 percent of ovarian cancers, than for normal ovaries. The mean oxygen saturation of invasive epithelial cancers was 9.1 percent lower than normal and benign ovaries. All five invasive epithelial cancerous ovaries, including two stage 1 and 2 cancers, showed extensive rHbT distribution and lower sO2.
“Physicians are very excited about this because it might bring significant change into current clinical practice,” Zhu says. “It is very valuable to detect and diagnose ovarian cancers at early stages. It is also important to provide information and assurance to patients that there is no worry about their ovaries, instead of removing a patient’s ovaries.
“This technology can also be valuable to monitor high-risk patients who have increased risk of ovarian and breast cancers due to their genetic mutations. The current standard of care for these women is performing risk reduction surgeries to remove their ovaries at some point, which affects their quality of life and causes other health problems,” Zhu says.
“We are very fortunate to participate in this research endeavor headed by Dr. Zhu,” says Cary Siegel, professor of radiology and chief of gastrointestinal/genitourinary radiology. “This photoacoustic imaging study has great potential to better identify ovarian cancers and may play a valuable role in screening high-risk patients and triaging patients for follow-up imaging or surgical excision.”
These initial results will need to be validated with more patients, Zhu says. The team is applying for funding to conduct a large clinical trial.
The National Institutes of Health and the Center for Strategic Scientific Initiatives at the National Cancer Institute funded the work.
This article was published by Futurity.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Merck, Pfizer's Bavencio Misses Ovarian Cancer Trial Endpoints

This article originally appeared in "PharmaTimes" and was written by Selina McKee:
A late-stage study testing Merck KGaA and Pfizer’s PD-L1 antibody Bavencio has failed to meet its primary endpoints in patients with certain forms of ovarian cancer.
The drug was being tested as monotherapy and in combination with pegylated liposomal doxorubicin (PLD), a type of chemotherapy, in the JAVELIN Ovarian 200 trial, but failed to hit overall survival (OS) and progression-free survival (PFS) targets in patients with platinum-resistant or -refractory ovarian cancer compared to PLD alone.
However, signals were observed in the combination arm relative to PLD, and “further analyses of the trial are warranted”, the firms stressed.
Also of note, no new safety signals were observed, with the safety profile for Bavencio (avelumab) found to be consistent with that observed in the overall JAVELIN clinical development programme.
“JAVELIN Ovarian 200 enrolled a high proportion of patients with aggressive, refractory disease that had no response to prior platinum-based chemotherapy, a population known to have disease that is challenging to treat; as such, this group of patients is typically not included in Phase III ovarian cancer trials,” said Chris Boshoff, head of Immuno-Oncology, Early Development and Translational Oncology, Pfizer Global Product Development.
“We initiated the JAVELIN Ovarian 200 trial as the first Phase III study of a checkpoint inhibitor in the platinum-resistant or -refractory setting recognising these patients have the most pressing need for new treatment options. The results speak to the significant challenges these women face.”
“Although OS and PFS did not reach statistical significance, study results indicate potential clinical activity of the combination of avelumab and chemotherapy which will be analysed further,” noted Luciano Rossetti, executive vice president, Global Head of Research & Development at the Biopharma business of Merck KGaA.
In addition to JAVELIN Ovarian 200, the avelumab ovarian cancer clinical development programme includes several ongoing clinical trials investigating the drug in combination with other therapies.
Bavencio is already approved in the US and EU to treat certain patients with metastatic Merkel cell carcinoma, while in the US it is also cleared for locally advanced or metastatic urothelial carcinoma (mUC).
This article was published by PharmaTimes.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

New Study Shows Olaparib Benefits Those Newly Diagnosed

Olaparib (Lynparza), a PARP inhibitor is currently being used in the treatment of recurrent ovarian cancer. This study, recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine, showed that over 66% of women given olaparib in conjunction with standard chemo during the initial treatment of advanced OC had not relapsed after 3 years. The relapse rate is otherwise closer to 70% after 3 years.

The study involved 391 patients who had advanced (Stage 3 or 4) serous, primary peritoneal, endometrioid or fallopian tube OC who had a BRCA 1, 2 or both mutation. These women had either a partial or full response from initial chemo.

The study is being hailed as a "breakthrough" in the treatment of ovarian cancer. To read more about this study, follow this link.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Here It Is: The 2018 Turning the Tide Retreat Unabridged Video!

Many, many thanks to Marissa Fiorucci, studio manager of Ostow Photography, and to Eva Kasell, TTT retreat photographer, for this wonderful, memorable video of our fabulous retreat this year. Sit back and enjoy....

The Clearity Foundation

How would you search for a clinical trial that was based on your location? What if you only wanted a trial that was in a specific phase of development? What if you wanted to find drugs that were specific to platinum resistant recurrences?

Well the answer to these questions and a whole lot more, can be found through The Clearity Foundation.

In my previous entry about the amazing national organization, Steps Through Ovarian Cancer, I mentioned that STOC was a joint venture between two other non-profits. The Clearity Foundation was one of them. It was founded in 2008 by a cancer researcher and ovarian cancer survivor, Dr. Laura Shawver. She wanted to put together a website that helps women and their families understand their diagnosis, reviews the data for treatment options depending on the type of OC, explains how to access clinical trials, provides up-to-date news on the latest treatment developments. It's for patients and physicians.

There's even a great feature about tumor blueprints/molecular profiling. These tumor blueprints help you and your physician select targeted treatment, specific to your type of tumor. Although it doesn't provide guidance on medical treatment, Clearity's staff has expertise in ovarian cancer molecular and cellular biology and can help explain test results for you to discuss with your physician. There is even a financial assistance form for patients to fill out to help cover the cost.

I've signed up for their newsletter to that I can get current information about medical advances in the treatment of various forms of OC. For more information, follow this link.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Steps through OC - A MUST SEE!

It's rare that I so wholeheartedly encourage OC sisters to check out a website but this one is it! Cindy, from our TTT camp this year, was the first one to point it out on our private FB page and if it wasn't for Donna, I would have missed it completely.

So what is "Steps through Ovarian Cancer"? It's a new, national joint collaboration of two non-profits that offer FREE services for women who have had or still have OC in addition to their families and caregivers.

More than that, as STOC writes on their website, "Steps Through OC is a new, national program offering counseling, patient education, referrals and other free resources."

Every woman is matched with a professional counselor who can help her understand treatment options or get guidance on managing side effects or provide counseling (I believe up to 6 months) for any of the myriad number of reasons we may need it.

Essentially STOC believes that all women with OC and their families should be able to access care. As they write on their website, "We intentionally seek to serve people whose access to safe, affirming, responsive care may be limited by income, geography, language or discrimination of any kind."

I urge you to check them out.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Good News for Women with Clear Cell Ovarian Cancer

The gene that contributes to chemo resistance in clear-cell ovarian cancer has been discovered opening up the door (in the hopefully near future) to possible treatment options. Genes that help prevent this from occurring are known as BCL2 inhibitors. BCL2 inhibitors are currently approved for treatment in lymphoma.

 BCL2 (B-cell lymphoma, 2) is a gene that helps regulate cell death and is over expressed in certain types of cancer: breast, melanoma, prostate, chronic lymphocytic leukemia and lung cancer. Researchers have now linked over-expression of this gene to the development of chemo resistance in clear cell ovarian cancer. 

Clear cell ovarian cancer is linked with a mutation of the ARID1A gene. Downstream to this mutation is where BCL2 plays an important role in developing acquired resistance.  

To find out more about the research done on this, follow this link.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Cancer Conference Helps Bring Hope to Rural Maine Communities

Our very own Donna Wiegle attended the recent Downeast Living With Cancer Conference held in Bar Harbor, ME on November 1, 2018.

She was interviewed by WABI TV, Bangor, where she spoke about what the conference offers women and men living with cancer.

To read her interview, follow this link.

Donna, who lives with her husband and 2 dogs on an island off the coast of Maine, runs a small health center and Eldercare Outreach program, which serves a year-round community of 350 residents (~1000 during the summer).  Although she has Stage  3B low-grade serous carcinoma and will always be in treatment, Donna doesn't let that stop her from riding her beloved Harley Davidson motorcycle around New England and Canada.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Cancer Immunotherapy Video from M.D. Anderson Cancer Center

This is an interesting 38 minute video on using viruses to infect and kill cancer cells. It was produced by the Cancer Research Institute.

Dr. James P. Allison is the director of CRI's Scientific Advisory Council. He won the 2018 Nobel Prize in Medicine/Physiology for his research on the immune system's role in treating cancer. He is at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX.