Thursday, December 16, 2010

Emerging Target, “Cell Metabolism”: From Boondocks to Harvard Square, Boston

The emergence of “cancer energy metabolism” as one of the promising targets, is affirmed by the two significant Pharma deals this year:

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The "non-survivors" in the dance of cancer

Elizabeth Edwards died in her home, at the age of 61, on December 7th, after a six year battle with advanced breast cancer.  It was 2006, when on Senator John Edward's presidential campaign trail, with her cancer in remission, she was being hailed as a survivor.  With a glow in her skin, her hair showing no sign of chemo/radiation tox and with her seemingly unlimited enthusiasm and energy, she inspired fellow cancer patients, she met on the campaign trail and all over the country.  That was the time when she was one of the "celebrity cancer survivors" who often are celebrated by the media.[read here, here, here]

 Je suis un "Survivor".
"But in March 2007, during her husband’s campaign for the presidency, Ms. Edwards announced at a news conference that the breast cancer had recurred, certainly in a rib and possibly her lung. What she did next was rare for celebrity patients: She announced that the cancer was terminal. Yes, Elizabeth Edwards was a breast cancer survivor, according to the lingo. But she would not survive the disease." - Lessons From Elizabeth Edwards.  By Barron H. Lerner, M.D., December 7, 2010, Well Blog NYTimes
Today, her death tells the story of thousands of ordinary cancer patients,

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Diagnosed with cancer! So, what are my chances?

"One in four deaths in the United States is due to cancer." [...]  Statements such as this will make people sit up and really take notice.   Also true are the facts that, "among men, cancers of the prostate, lung and bronchus, and colorectum account for 52% of all newly diagnosed cancers. Prostate cancer alone accounts for 28% (217,730) of incident cases in men. . . The 3 most commonly diagnosed types of cancer among women in 2010 will be cancers of the breast, lung and bronchus, and colorectum, accounting for 52% of estimated cancer cases in women. Breast cancer alone is expected to account for 28% (207,090) of all new cancer cases" [read here].

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Verastem brings CSC target into “sharper” focus

The launch of Verastem, Inc., in Boston last week with the securing of $16 million Series A financing , signals the coming of age of cancer stem cells (CSCs) as a target for solid cancers. 

Monday, November 22, 2010

Mining aminoacyl tRNA synthases (aaRSs) for anti-angiogenic factors

Aminoacyl tRNA synthases (aaRSs) are ancient catalytic enzymes that catalyze the first step in protein synthesis, transfer of amino acid to its cognate tRNA, something that we learned years ago in Stryer’s Biochemistry.  But, these enzymes are also moonlighting proteins, with alternate splice forms or natural proteolytic fragments, acting as cytokines, angiogenic factors or angiostatic factors. The one that caught my eye was tryptophanyl-tRNA synthase (TrpRS) fragment which is antiangiogenic and is in clinical development for retinal diseases [...][...].

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

CTing the risk of dying from lung cancer.

Is CT scan is to lung cancer what Pap smear is to cervical cancer?  Can routine CT-scan screening detect asymptomatic lung cancer and improve the odds of someone being a "lung cancer survivor."  The results of the NCI-sponsored National Lung Screen Trial (NLST) released recently, would like you to believe, yes, it is.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Watchlist: Will nimotuzumab emerge as one of the best-in-class anti-EGFR MAB?

 Nimotuzumab (h-R3mAb, TheraCIM) is an EGFR targeting monoclonal antibody approved for glioma, malignant astrocytomes and squamous cell carcinoma of head and neck in several countries outside US.  Phase II/III studies for FDA approval are ongoing.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Understanding resistance to targeted cancer therapies via systems biology

On a good day only a small fraction of patients completely respond to modern cancer therapies targeting defined targets, such as EGFR, VEGFR, etc.  The tumors escape, cancer becomes resistant, not only due to accumulation of mutations in the target, but due to reliance on alternate cancer cell survival pathways.  EGFR signaling network is a good example of various pathways cross-talking with each other, creating redundancies and feedback loops.  Robust alternate survival pathways result in poor prognosis for patients.  

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Biogen Idec walking away from its cancer franchise. What (new drugs) may be lost in shakeup.

Yesterday's big announcement by Biogen Idec to disinvest itself from its cancer franchise (and shut down San Diego site) got me thinking what else was in the pipeline and preclinical programs which may (probably) never see the light of a doctor's office.  Was there an Avastin-like blockbuster sitting on a shelf somewhere?  Hopefully, some of the programs will be licensed off to someone with deep pockets or belief in it.  It can happen here in San Diego and some star molecules may emerge! [...][...]

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Random Finds: A Roadmap of Cancer Systems Biology by Edwin Wang

A Roadmap of Cancer Systems Biology, by Edwin Wang

". . . When an accident occurs on a busy road during rush hour in a big city, such as Montreal or New York, traffic is blocked for a short time. Soon, however, drivers begin to turn around and use alternative roads to reach their destinations. A road map of a city is a web, a collection of intertwined roads that allows for identification of alternative routes. Increasing evidence (see Chapters 4-7) shows that, similar to roads, molecules in cells are also networked. This structure suggests that biochemical pathways are interconnected, which may allow cancer to bypass the effects of a drug. . ." (Read full article at Nature Precedings, 2010, here or click here)

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Prostate Cancer: New drugs in the post “Abiraterone-Jevtana-Provenge” world

The success of three new drugs (Abiraterone, Jevtana and Provenge) for castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) this year, each targeting different pathways, and all showing an overall survival benefit, has raised the bar for those dreaming to join the club.  There is at least one riding the popularity vote, MDV3100, which may complete phase 3 next year.  Still, many struggle and plough through phase  1 and 2.  One way to understand, what may make some of them unique – and the reason they may evolve into serious competition one day – is to lay them out in separate classes or targets.  This is what I have done below.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Lilly's Oncology On Canvas(SM)

The two sides of cancer triangle are modern "wonder drugs" that zero in to the tumor lumps and rogue metastatic cells and, second, multiple approaches directly addressing the nasty chemotherapeutic side effects.  The critical third element is "emotional management."  This is where, since 2004, Lilly Oncology on Canvas(SM), co-sponsored by the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship (NCCS), has been helping patients, their caregivers and healthcare providers, their family and friends, by providing a forum to express, share and come to grips with the life altering changes that come with the diagnosis of cancer. (read more here, watch on youtube)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Cancer drugs RIPed in 2010

Four of the top ten Phase III failures of 2010 that were listed at FierceBiotech on Oct 21st are cancer drugs, and that's a big number!

Reducing chemotoxicity - Herbs to the rescue!

"Herbal medicine reduces chemotherapy toxicity," this headline in the "highlights" section of the latest issue of Nature Reviews Drug Discovery, caught my attention.  This was the first time, I saw "herbs" casted in a positive light re: cancer care -- completely opposite to the establishment's stream-rolled opinion that herbs, generally speaking, interfere in unknown ways with current allopathic medications and medical care.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Ever heard of Pecha-Kucha, I just did

Cancer is (NOT) a modern, man-made disease

Last week, what started as a press release by the University of Manchester to publicize an opinion article by its faculty, and picked up by some ‘reputable' media (like Telegraph), led to a tsunami of rebuttals and jabs all over the blogosphere.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Pfizer Makes Move Into Biologic Drugs (NYTimes)

NY Times October 18, 2010, 12:05 pm
Pfizer Makes Move Into Biologic Drugs

Making a new move into the fledgling market for generic biotech drugs, pharmaceutical giant Pfizer has acquired worldwide rights to sell human insulin and insulin analogs being developed by Biocon, one of India’s largest biotech companies. (Read More: . . . that since the pathway for biogenerics has not yet been established, Biocon plans to conduct a phase 3 clinical trial of its insulin and to seek approval under an existing pathway known as rule 505(b)(2).

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Can we check off thyroid cancer as a conquered disease? Maybe not!

Yesterday, I came across Carolyn Sayre's entry, The Rising Incidence of Thyroid Cancer.  As I scanned through the article, my brain was filled with conflicting conclusions. 

Friday, October 15, 2010

Five year anniversary of Nexavar® (sorafenib) approval by FDA

In about two months, five days before Christmas, sorafenib will celebrate five years of approval by the FDA.  When it was approved on December 20th, 2005, for advanced Renal Cell Carcinoma (RCC), it was the first (and is so far the only) approved drug to target B-Raf kinase, a signaling component of the MAPK pathway.  Since then it has also been approved for Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC).

Thursday, October 14, 2010

And the three co-winners in the 2010 race to beat Metastatic Advanced Prostate Cancer are Abiraterone, Jevtana and Provenge

Following the results of a randomized, placebo-controlled Phase 3 study COU-AA-301  released at the 35th Annual European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) Congress on October 11, 2010 (ESMO abstract LBA5), abiraterone has emerged as a third new treatment option for metastatic advanced prostate cancer (also referred to as hormone-refractory or castration-resistant prostate cancer [HRPC or CRPC]) this year. 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Old Drugs have a lot more Firepower

Celgene Corporation (NASDAQ:CELG) was in the news a few months ago for buying Abraxis BioScience for 2.9 billion (read: A Billionaire’s Biotech Deal And Old Drugs Reborn at, or Prominent Drug Chief to Sell Abraxis BioScience to Celgene for $2.9 Billion at  With this purchase, Celgene has become a big player in the  Oncology biz-space with two re-incarnated drugs: