September 2014 — Targeted Radiation, Drug Therapy Combo Less Toxic for Treatment of Recurrent Head, Neck Cancers
Physician-researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI)/ UPMC CancerCenter report that patients with a recurrence of head and neck cancer who have previously been given radiation can be treated more quickly, safely, and with less side effects with high doses of Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT) in combination with the drug cetuximab.
Between July 2007 and March 2013, doctors treated 48 patients with the combination therapy. All of the patients were able to complete the treatments, which were administered in a span of about two weeks compared to traditional therapies which can take up to nine weeks. Severe toxicity was reported at 12 percent using the combination therapy, compared to upwards of 85 percent using conventional therapies.
The results of this study were presented at the 2014 American Society of Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) annual meeting in San Francisco. Watch John Vargo, MD, a radiation oncology resident at UPCI/ UPMC CancerCenter and one of the lead authors, discuss this study.
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July 2014 — Potential Breast Cancer Drug Performs Well in Early Clinical Trials
A drug previously studied to improve chemotherapy may be effective in treating patients with cancers related to the BRCA 1 or 2 genetic mutations, as well as patients with BRCA-like breast cancers, according to a UPCI clinical trial. The drug, veliparib (ABT-888), is a PARP inhibitor, which means it lowers the resistance of cancer cells to treatment by targeting the polymerase (PARP) family of enzymes responsible for a wide variety of cellular processes in cancer cells, particularly DNA repair.
Watch medical oncologist Shannon Puhalla, MD discuss results of the phase I study, which were presented at the 50th annual American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting.
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March 2014 — UPCI Scientists Find Patients With Invasive Lobular Carcinoma May Benefit From Personalized Drug Therapies
According to a multidisciplinary team led by scientists at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI), invasive lobular carcinoma (ILC), the second-most common type of breast cancer, appears to be a good candidate for a personalized approach to treatment.
Patients with ILC are typically treated with surgery and chemotherapy or hormone therapy, or both. According to Steffi Oesterreich, PhD, Professor of Pharmacology & Chemical Biology, and Director of Education at the Women's Cancer Research Center, a subset of patients with ILC receive less benefit from this treatment than those with ductal carcinoma. Dr. Oesterreich's team recently described a unique program of estrogen receptor-driven gene expression in ILC cells that may play a role in drug resistance.
These findings were recently published in the March 1 edition of Cancer Research.
Watch Dr. Oesterreich and Matthew Sikora, PhD, a postdoctoral associate at UPCI, discuss this study.