News in Brief, September 2021

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August 23, 2021
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News in Brief, September 2021

News in Brief

Register Now for the Virtual Fall 2021 Group Meeting

Registration is open for the Virtual Fall 2021 Group Meeting, taking place online from Wednesday, October 20 – Friday, October 22. The meeting schedule (subject to change) is available on the Group Meeting website, and attendees must select the sessions they would like to attend during the registration process. Featured sessions include:

  • NCI-MATCH/EAY131 and ComboMATCH Update and Education Session
  • General Session
  • TMIST Update and Education Session
  • Health Equity Committee Plenary Session
  • Young Investigator Symposium

Please be sure to register by Friday, October 15. Please note: Registration is currently only open to staff from ECOG-ACRIN member institutions, ECOG-ACRIN advocates, National Cancer Institute (NCI)/National Institutes of Health (NIH) employees, and invited guests.

Virtual Meeting Attendance Awards for Minority Trainees

ECOG-ACRIN offers attendance awards to encourage underrepresented minority trainees from member institutions to attend the Virtual Group Meeting. Minority trainees may include students, residents, fellows, and early career investigators. Other trainees focusing on minority health or health disparities research are also welcome to apply regardless of race or ethnicity.

Applicants, please submit the following to bafflick@ecog-acrin.org by Friday, October 8:

  • Current CV or bio sketch
  • Brief cover letter describing
    1. Career goals and research interests
    2. Relevant coursework and community service
    3. Information or experience they seek to gain by attending the meeting
  • Letter of support from their department chair, section head or division director, or an ECOG-ACRIN principal investigator or an ECOG-ACRIN committee chair within their institution

NCI-MATCH Trial News and Updates

The study chairs for this trial are Alice Chen, MD (NCI) and Keith Flaherty, MD (ECOG-ACRIN). The study co-chairs are Lyndsay Harris, MD (NCI) and Peter O’Dwyer, MD (ECOG-ACRIN).

  • Investigators and research staff, please continue to keep the open treatment arms top-of-mind when considering treatment options for your patients
  • Read this month’s article NCI-MATCH Eliminates the Need for a Formal Referral Letter from the Laboratories
  • Attendees of the Virtual Fall 2021 Group Meeting, mark your calendars for the NCI-MATCH and ComboMATCH Update and Education Session on Wednesday, October 20 from 9:30-10:30 AM (Eastern)
  • Accrual is temporarily suspended for Arm Z1M and will resume after the study team processes an amendment with updated safety information

TMIST Welcomes Two New Sites

The study chair for this trial is Etta Pisano, MD (Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, and the American College of Radiology).

The Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, and the Women’s Diagnostic Center in Munster, Indiana, are the latest sites to join the TMIST breast cancer screening trial. Total enrollment stands at 55,959 women as of September 29.

New sites may join this trial! If your site is interested in offering this trial to your constituents, email TMIST@acr.org to discuss the study requirements, reimbursement/payment structure, and how to start the application process.

Nilofer Azad Appointed to National Cancer Advisory Board

Nilofer S. Azad, MD, was recently appointed to the National Cancer Advisory Board by President Biden. The Board plays an important role in guiding the Director of the NCI in setting the course for the national cancer research program. Dr. Azad serves as co-director of the Developmental Therapeutics Clinical Research Program and the Cancer Genetic and Epigenetic Core Research Program at Johns Hopkins University's Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center. She is the principal investigator for arms Z1D and Z1M of the NCI-MATCH precision medicine trial. Read the full statement.

International Myeloma Society Honors Vincent Rajkumar

S. Vincent Rajkumar, MD, received the International Myeloma Society's 2021 Waldenström Award during its annual meeting in early September. The award recognizes individuals for their outstanding contributions to myeloma research. Dr. Rajkumar, a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic, serves on the Board of the International Myeloma Foundation. He is chair of the ECOG-ACRIN Myeloma Committee and was the 2006 recipient of the ECOG-ACRIN Young Investigator Award. Read the full press release.

IASLC Recognizes EA Lung Cancer Research Leaders

Heather A. Wakelee, MD, became president of the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC) shortly after the IASLC 2021 World Conference on Lung Cancer (WCLC), September 10 – 13, 2021. She will serve a two-year term in this role. Dr. Wakelee is deputy director of the Stanford Cancer Institute and division chief of Medical Oncology, and professor of medicine at Stanford University. She serves as co-chair of the ECOG-ACRIN Thoracic Cancer Committee. She is also a member of EA's Principal Investigator, Executive, and Nominating Committees and was the 2015 recipient of the ECOG-ACRIN Young Investigator Award. Read an interview with Dr. Wakelee about her new role in the WCLC Meeting News.

David P. Carbone, MD, PhD, received the IASLC's 2021 Paul A. Bunn, Jr. Scientific Award, which recognizes an IASLC scientist for a lifetime achievement of scientific contributions to thoracic cancer research. The award was presented at the IASLC 2021 WCLC. Dr. Carbone, Director of the James Thoracic Oncology Center at The Ohio State University Medical Center, is a longstanding member of the ECOG-ACRIN Thoracic Cancer Committee. Read the full press release.

Research Results

  • Kidney Cancer – New data on a subset of patients in the ASSURE (E2805) randomized phase III trial show that neither sunitinib nor sorafenib improved disease-free survival or overall survival in early renal cell carcinoma with sarcomatoid features—a rare and aggressive form with a poor prognosis. This finding is similar to the overall group of E2805 patients (Haas NB Lancet 2016). Karam JA. BJU Int. September 2021
  • Leukemia – The E1912 randomized phase III trial led to FDA approval of the combination of ibrutinib and rituximab (IR) as initial treatment for patients aged 70 years or younger with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). The results of E1912 eliminate the need for chemotherapy for these patients (Shanafelt TD. N Engl J Med. 2019). In a new analysis from the trial, researchers write: "Our data from the IR arm provides novel insights into the relationship of measurable residual disease with clinical outcome for ibrutinib-containing therapies that are continuously administered." Wang V. Blood. August 2021
  • Leukemia – Despite recent advances in therapeutic options for patients with B-lineage acute lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL), treatment of adults remains challenging because of a high incidence of adverse prognostic factors and poor tolerance of intensive therapy. A new analysis of data from the E2993 trial makes two key points: 1) genomic testing improves risk assessment in most adults with BCR-ABL1-negative B-ALL, and 2) antigen profiles affect outcome in B-ALL when considered in conjunction with genomic subtype. Paietta E. Blood. September 2021
  • Lung Cancer Screening – Location matters. The National Lung Screening Trial (NLST) showed that low-dose CT screening for lung cancer results in a significant mortality reduction (Aberle DR. N Engl J Med. 2011). However, it is complicated by invasive procedures performed for evaluation of the many detected benign nodules. Multiple studies have demonstrated that lung cancers have a predilection for the upper lung regions. However, lung nodule location has never been assessed using modern quantitative imaging techniques and applied for prediction. This analysis describes an entirely objective prediction model, based on a simple assessment of the geospatial location of a nodule, to improve discrimination of benign from malignant nodules. Application of the Geospatial Test with other standard assessments could help reduce unnecessary biopsies and improve lung cancer screening performance. Kinsey M. J Thorac Dis. July 2021
  • NCI-MATCH – Preliminary results from Arm Z1H show that the P13K inhibitor copanlisib has limited activity in cancers with deleterious PTEN mutations without loss of PTEN protein expression. Filip Janku, MD, presented these findings at the European Society for Medical Oncology's Congress 2021 in September.
  • Oral Cancer Treatments – Across clinical trials of oral cancer therapies, tracking adherence to oral medications by collecting pill counts and diaries from patients is a time- and resource-intensive effort. However, this information is rarely reported. A new analysis from the ASSURE trial (see Kidney Cancer above) provides important adherence benchmarks for oncology teams regarding supervision and delivery of high-quality cancer care. A large cohort of trial patients (n=1,858) completed pill diaries. This report discusses both patient- and system-level factors affecting adherence. It underscores the importance of identifying characteristics of health systems and clinics that may contribute to patient adherence to oral therapies and addresses the surprising finding that adherence is worse in high volume enrolling sites. Murphy CC. Cancer Med. August 2021
  • Publicly-Funded Research – Many, many cancer treatments that doctors widely prescribe today may never have become available to patients without public funding. A new report estimates that over the past 40 years, people with cancer in the US gained 14 million years of additional life thanks to cancer clinical trials funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) through its National Clinical Trials Network (NCTN). Authors identified 128 randomized phase III treatment trials from 1980 through 2019 where the experimental arm showed either a statistically significant improvement in overall survival time (91 trials) or a trend toward improved overall survival (37 trials) for patients. They estimated the additional life years by mapping the gains from these trials onto data on the overall US population of people with cancer. In September, lead author Joseph Unger, PhD, presented the results at the European Society for Medical Oncology's Congress 2021 in September. Press Release

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