A while back Keytruda was being hailed as the new wonder drug.  There’ve been a few up and downs since then, but it’s still around and the lead story suggests that early promise can be realised.

Second story suggests it could be joined one day by the new AZD1775.

And we finish with one from the `you are what you eat’ file.


# Toddlers are like sociopaths with a good prognosis.

# The real, and entirely ignored, controversy is why we pretend uninformed and idiotic opinions are equal to educated and reasonable ones.

# To be considered a ‘man of mystery’ nowadays, you just don’t need to be on Social Media

SD-101 and Keytruda Combo Fights Head and Neck Tumors, Trial Shows

(California) A combination of Dynavax Technologies’ immunotherapy SD-101 and Keytruda triggered tumor-fighting responses in a third of patients with an advanced head and neck cancer, a Phase 1b/2 clinical trial showed.

The response rate was double the 15 percent seen in a Phase 3 trial that involved Keytruda alone. SD-101 was also safe, the Phase 1b/2 trial showed. The two trials’ participants had squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck, or SCCHN.

Dynavax presented the results of the Phase 1b/2 trial (NCT02521870) in a poster session at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research in Chicago, April 14-18. The presentation was titled “Phase 1b/2, Open-Label, Multicenter Study of Intratumoral SD-101 in Combination With Pembrolizumab in Anti-PD-1 Treatment-Naïve Patients With Recurrent or Metastatic Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma.”

“Results from our Phase 1b/2 trial of SD-101 in combination with Keytruda are promising in head and neck cancer, a condition for which patients typically have a poor prognosis,” Eddie Gray, the chief executive officer of Dynavax, said in a press release. “This is another tumor type in which SD-101, based on early data, has demonstrated encouraging activity while being well tolerated. As understanding of combination therapy matures, we believe an effective immune-stimulating agonist with an attractive tolerability profile will play a significant role in a wide range of tumors.”

SD-101 is a toll-like receptor 9 (TLR9) agonist delivered directly into tumors, where it activates the immune system.
Dyvanax is evaluating SD-101’s safety and activity in several trials. One of them, the multicenter Phase 1b/2 study, looked at SD-101 in combination with Keytruda in 18 patients with advanced SCCHN who had not received a previous anti-PD-1 therapy.
Full story:

Nine out of 10 patients treated with the experimental therapy saw their tumors shrink
(U.S.) For many survivors of head and neck cancer, the disease — and its treatment — leave a lifelong, unmistakable mark. Surgeries to remove tumors in the mouth, neck or throat often leave patients with disfiguring scars and difficulty speaking or swallowing. Some may not even be able to perform these tasks at all.

When you look at Carla Stone, you might not guess that she was diagnosed with stage 4 head and neck cancer just two years ago. The only visible sign of her disease and treatment — and you have to know what you are looking for — is the tiny dot tattooed on her chest, the marker for the radiation she received to her throat.

Stone, a 66-year-old bookkeeper from Monroe, Washington, had ongoing symptoms for nearly two years before her doctors finally detected the tumor that had been growing on the base of her tongue

When Stone’s CT scan results came back, the ENT said, “’I went to a lecture last week by a doctor at Fred Hutch about this new treatment he has,’” Stone recounted. “’I want you to call him as soon as you get out of here.’”

That doctor was the late physician-scientist Dr. Eduardo Méndez, an expert on head and neck cancer at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. And that “new treatment” was a recently launched early-phase clinical trial testing a new cancer drug that Méndez hoped could shrink advanced head and neck tumors to the point where surgeries for his patients wouldn’t be nearly so disfiguring.

For Stone, the gamble paid off. The drug, AZD1775, in combination with two chemotherapies, shrunk her tumor to the point that it was undetectable, she said. She had a minimally invasive surgery to remove some of her lymph nodes and a course of radiation to her throat after that, but there was no sign of the original tumor.

The 30 days she spent taking the experimental drug and undergoing chemotherapy were no picnic, Stone said. She had pretty severe gastrointestinal side effects. But she could also tell that the treatment was doing something.

Full story:

Study explores carbohydrates' impact on head, neck cancers

(U.S.) Consuming high amounts of carbohydrates and various forms of sugar during the year prior to treatment for head and neck cancer may increase patients' risks of cancer recurrence and mortality, a new study reports.

However, eating moderate amounts of fats and starchy foods such as whole grains, potatoes and legumes after treatment could have protective benefits, reducing patients' risks of disease recurrence and death, said lead author Anna E. Arthur, a professor of food science and human nutrition at the University of Illinois.

Participants' typical intake of food, beverages and supplements was assessed for the year prior to diagnosis and for one year post-treatment using the Harvard Food Frequency Questionnaire. Patients who consumed the lowest amounts of simple carbohydrates -- which included refined grains, desserts and sugar-sweetened beverages -- consumed about 1.3 servings daily, compared with about 4.4 servings by patients who were considered high intake.

Patients who consumed the most total carbohydrates and sugars -- in the forms of sucrose, fructose, lactose and maltose -- in the year preceding cancer treatment were at greater risk of mortality from any cause during the follow-up period, Arthur said.

"Although in this study we found that higher total carbohydrate and total sugar were associated with higher mortality in head and neck cancer patients, because of the study design we can't say that there's a definitive cause-effect relationship," said Arthur, who also is an oncology dietitian nutritionist with the Carle Cancer Center at Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana, Illinois. "The next step would be to conduct a randomized clinical trial to test whether carbohydrate restriction has a protective effect on survival rates."

Consuming a moderate amount -- about 67 grams -- of various forms of fat and starchy foods daily after cancer treatment appeared to provide some beneficial effects, lowering participants' risks of mortality and cancer recurrence.

Full story

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