Friday, April 26, 2013

Former Notre Dame basketball coach diagnosed with bladder cancer

As our society ages, more and more TV and movie celebrities have been and will be diagnosed with cancer.  ESPN released this unfortunate news last night.  Here's Sports Illustrated's take:

ESPN’s Digger Phelps diagnosed with bladder cancer

ESPN college basketball analyst Digger Phelps has been diagnosed with bladder cancer, the network announced Thursday night.

The network said that Phelps has undergone surgery to treat the cancer and will begin follow-up treatment next week near his home in South Bend, Ind.  Phelps said in a statement that ”he and his family appreciate your thoughts and prayers as he prepares for the 2013-2014 college basketball season,” according to ESPN.

Phelps, 71, has been a major face of college basketball for more than four decades. He coached the Notre Dame men’s basketball team from 1971-91, where he memorably led the Irish to an upset over No. 1 UCLA record 88-game winning streak. He has been an ESPN analyst since 1993.

I'm sure I join all of our readers here, at HWC, MMB and wishing Digger well.  

Sometimes it's hard, but feel good and keep smiling!  Pat

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Click-on the headline link below to read all about it...

Supreme Court skeptical of patent on breast cancer gene

A decision against the patent would be a victory for competing geneticists and researchers as well as breast cancer advocacy groups. But a compromise may be more likely.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Pfizer's experimental breast cancer drug gets fast-tracked by FDA

Last post had to do with ovarian cancer.  This one breast cancer.  Baby steps helping women with cancer issues.  BRAVO!

Breast cancer drug gets breakthrough label

Linda A. Johnson, Associated Press

TRENTON, N.J. — Pfizer Inc. said Wednesday that its experimental pill for advanced, often deadly breast cancer has been designated as a breakthrough therapy by the Food and Drug Administration.
Pfizer shares jumped nearly 3% following the news.

The breakthrough designation, created under legislation enacted last summer to fund and improve operations of the FDA, is meant to speed up development and review of experimental treatments that are seen as big advances over existing therapies for serious diseases. Pfizer is working with the agency to determine exactly what research results it will need to apply for approval of the drug.

Palbociclib is being evaluated as an initial treatment for the biggest subgroup of postmenopausal women whose breast cancer is locally advanced or has spread elsewhere in the body. About 60% of women with such advanced breast cancer have tumors classified as ER+, or estrogen-receptor positive, but HER2-, or lacking an excess of the growth-promoting protein HER2.

Estrogen-receptor positive tumors have proteins inside and on the surface of their cells to which the estrogen hormone can attach and then fuel growth of cells. These tumors tend to grow slowly and can be fought with drugs that block estrogen's effects.

Meanwhile, about 80% of breast cancer tumor cells are HER2 negative. That means that unlike HER2 positive tumors, they don't produce too much of the HER2 protein, which makes tumors grow and spread more aggressively than in other breast cancer types.

New York-based Pfizer is currently running a late-stage study of palbociclib at multiple centers, comparing its effects when used in combination with letrozole with the effects of letrozole alone.  Letrozole, sold under the brand name Femara for about the past 15 years, is a pill that works by inhibiting aromatase. That's an enzyme in the adrenal glands that makes estrogen.

According to Pfizer, palbociclib targets enzymes called cyclin dependent kinases 4 and 6. By inhibiting those enzymes, the drug has been shown in laboratory studies to block cell growth and suppress copying of the DNA of the cancer cells. Pfizer, which has made research on cancer medicines a priority in recent years, also is testing palbociclib as a treatment for other cancers.

I'm not familiar with this new "breakthrough designation."  I am familiar with "fast tracking" a drug.  Sounds like the same type of thing...

Feel good and keep smiling!  Pat

Sunday, April 7, 2013

New immunotherapy shows very good response in new ovarian cancer study

Funny I would be getting this news via China!  Its the new world we live in... 


Vaccine shows promise for ovarian cancer in US

China Daily

WASHINGTON - US scientists have developed an experimental vaccine against advanced ovarian cancer that triggers anti-tumor immune responses using cells made from patients' own tumor.

The vaccine provoked a positive response in 61 percent of woman with stage 3 or 4 ovarian cancer, according to a report presented Saturday at the American Association for Cancer Research annual meeting in Washington.

The University of Pennsylvania researchers first isolated immune cells called dendritic cells from patient's blood. They then created individualized vaccines by exposing each patient's dendritic cells to her own tumor tissue that had been collected during surgery. They found 19 out of 31 patients clinical benefit after vaccine treatment and developed an antitumor immune response.

Of these 19 patients, eight had no measurable disease at the end of the study and remained on maintenance vaccine therapy. One patient of the eight patients remained disease-free for 42 months following vaccine treatment, they said. While vaccination therapy alone showed about a 61-percent clinical benefit, said lead author Lana Kandalaft, the combination of both therapies showed about a 75-percent benefit.

Both treatments were given in conjunction with bevacizumab, a drug that controls blood vessel growth.
"We offer patients with ovarian cancer a potential therapy with minor side effects and a good quality of life," Kandalaft said. The researchers said they will continue to work to improve the vaccine platform to further enhance its efficacy.

I asked Pat what he thought about this.  He felt that these were impressive results compared to those he covers for other cancers.

Feel good and keep smiling!  Pat