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Tag Archives: NCI

Personalized Medicine Conference Highlights a Busy Month

Last week, Harvard Medical School held a conference entitled “Personalized Medicine: The Time is Now.”  Is the time now?  Looking around, it seems like personalized medicine has had a pretty good month:

PBMs Drive Demand

CVS Caremark, the country’s largest pharmacy services provider, partnered with Generation Health to expand pharmacogenomic testing for cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and HIV.  According the GenomeWeb story, CVS Caremark joins Medco‘s 60 million people, meaning the top two PBMs in the U.S. are investing heavily in personalized medicine.

Though note that PBMs’ interest in personalized medicine isn’t wholly neutral, as this post at IVB by Michael McCaughan points out.

Corporate Deals

Three pairs of corporations found the economics sufficiently attractive to strike new partnership deals:

NCI Investment To Advance Research

Finally, helping ensure that there is sufficient research output to advance the field, the National Cancer Institute put out a program announcement entitled “Development, Application, and Evaluation of Prediction Models for Cancer Risk and Prognosis,” which NCI says will be “essential for tailoring therapy to appropriate groups of patients.”

Counterpoint

Still, as the Washington Post notes in its article on the new “Ignite Institute” in Fairfax County: “[y]ou’d be right, of course, to be a bit skeptical,” citing decades of promise and so far few commercial successes in the region.

Bottom Line

Given this month’s developments, our Magic 8-Ball says “Outlook good.”  Stay tuned to see what develops, particularly as personalized medicine and comparative effectiveness grow in prominence at the same time.

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Abbott’s ABT-888 Guinea Pig: First Phase 0 Clinical Trial Completed

A press release from the National Cancer Institute yesterday (picked up today by BIO SmartBrief and FierceBiotech) touts a successful first:

The first phase 0 clinical trial of a drug in cancer treatment, involving 13 patients with advanced cancers, showed that the drug, ABT-888, affected its target and was well tolerated. Most importantly, this trial showed that it is possible to enroll a small number of patients, treat them with a low dose of a new drug, identify whether the desired target of the drug was affected, and obtain all of this critical information relatively quickly.

The point of a “phase 0″ (phase zero) trial is to focus “primarily on tolerance and the ability of the drug to hit a target.”  The advantage of phase 0 trials is that they:

involve nontoxic drug doses that are administered for short periods of time to small numbers of patients, [so] the preclinical toxicology data required … are less than those required to support a phase I trial; thus, these first-in-human trials can be initiated earlier in the drug development process than traditional phase I studies.

Phase 0 trials come with their own statistical evaluation scheme and endpoints, and although more long-term data is needed on the impact of this approach on timetables and success rates, “phase 0 trials will be a key part of a new approach” in the NCI Experimental Therapeutics (NExT) program.

Here’s NCI’s FAQ from the 2007 introduction of the program, with more info on NExT and phase 0 trials.

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Friday Science Review: March 13, 2009

Training Brains:  Sheena Josselyn’s lab at SickKids specifically erased a fear memory in mice by selectively ablating CREB neurons using an inducible diptheria toxin.  Let me break this down, because it’s so unbelievably cool: 

  • they trained mice to be afraid of a sound,
  • then they destroyed some specific cells in the brains of the mice,
  • then the mice forgot that they were afraid of the sound.

The mice were subsequently able to learn new things, like how to find cheese in a maze, and were even able to learn to be afraid of the same sound again.  Between this and the mind-reading experiment in the UK this week, it’s enough to give you a serious bout of insomnia … which often lasts over a year, according to researchers at Laval.

Gout Rout: Dr. Hyon Choi and colleagues at the University of British Columbia reported in Monday’s issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, that Vitamin C appeared to lower the levels of uric acid in the blood, and that men who take in more vitamin C appear to be less likely to develop gout, a painful type of arthritis.

Beef Relief: Researchers using Bioniche’s E. coli O157 vaccine, Econiche™, published a study in Foodborne Pathogens and Disease showing that vaccinated cattle were 92% less likely to be colonized with E. coli O157:H7 than non-vaccinated cattle (odds ratio (OR)=0.07, p=0.0008). This is the second published study demonstrating more than 90% effectiveness of the Bioniche vaccine against colonization.

Anti-cancer Advancers:

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Monday Deal Review: February 16, 2009

An interesting collection of goings-on in this week’s special President’s Day / Family Day edition of the Monday Deal Review after the jump…

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