May 23, 2000
The following news tips are based on abstracts or posters being presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).
CANCER VACCINE FOR PANCREATIC CANCER
Abstract # 1784: Bioactivity of Human GM-CSF Tumor Vaccine in the Treatment of Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma.
Elizabeth M. Jaffee, M.D.
Hopkins researchers report they have successfully and safely induced anti-tumor immune responses in a Phase I trial of pancreatic cancer vaccine. The vaccine, tested on 14 patients, uses pancreatic tumor cells genetically-engineered with the immune boosting gene GM-CSF. Following surgery, patients then underwent radiation and chemotherapy followed by three additional monthly vaccinations. The anti-tumor immune response was most significant in the patients who received the highest doses of the vaccine and appeared to correlate with increased disease-free survival. Pancreatic cancer strikes more than 27,000 people and claims the live of an additional 28,000 each year. The Hopkins findings provide strong support for accelerating the evaluation of GM-CSF vaccines in further clinical trials for patients with pancreatic cancer.
NEW AGENT INCREASES BRAIN CANCER SURVIVAL
Abstract # 610: Survival Results of Phase II Trial of RSR13 and Concurrent Cranial RT for Newly Diagnosed Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM).
Lawrence R. Kleinberg, M.D.
Hopkins researchers announce findings from a Phase II study of a new agent that appears to bolster the effects of radiation therapy against a deadly form of brain cancer known as glioblastoma. The agent RSR13 was given intravenously to 50 patients with newly-diagnosed glioblastoma daily during radiation treatment. The patients who received RSR13 had an average survival of 12.1 months, compared to 9.2 months in those who did not get the agent. As a result of these positive findings, the Hopkins researchers say a Phase III trial of RSR13 is being planned.
NEW EXPERIMENTAL DRUG STUDIED IN A VARIETY OF SOLID TUMORS
Abstract # 921E: Phase I Study of Taxoprexin DHA-paclitaxel (TXP), a Novel Taxane with Unique Preclinical Activity, Pharmacology and Toxicity Profile
Antonio Wolff, M.D.
Researchers from Johns Hopkins are the first to test a new anti-cancer drug known as Taxoprexin DHA-paclitaxel in cancer patients. The drug, which is a small synthetic molecule linking the well-known drug paclitaxel to a natural fatty acid called DHA, was tested thus far on 17 patients with progressive metastatic disease in a variety of solid tumors including colorectal, prostate, breast and pancreatic cancers. DHA-paclitaxel is designed to improve the safety and effectiveness of a class of anticancer drugs known as taxanes by potentially delivering more of the therapeutic agent to tumor cells and less to healthy tissues. The researchers reported that they were able to give 4.6 times more of experimental DHA-paclitaxel than the maximum approval clinical dose of paclitaxel. Patients did not report common chemotherapy-associated side effects such as hair loss and nerve problems. Though these early results are promising, the Hopkins team emphasizes that it may take several years to fully evaluate the drug's therapeutic performance and safety.