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Weekly Wednesday - 21 June 2017

Weekly Wednesday

The anti vaccine movement, much like the Flat Earth Society, refuses to lie down despite the evidence of science, logic, history and pretty much everything else. Unfortunately the efforts of the anti-vaxers can have serious health effects on people even outside their misguided movement. Having said that there is now widespread access to the HPV vaccine and apparently a new one (see below) is being developed. We should wish them well.

Meanwhile consider:

James Bond seems awesome until you think of the real-life headline: "British Intelligence wasted millions of pounds on designer suits, luxury watches, and exotic sports cars for agents." or maybe (or if annoyed by sports coverage) I would sound just as cliche if I was interviewed after every work day like a professional athlete.

Latest Head & Neck Cancer News

by Kris

Vaccine Triggers Immune Response in Head and Neck Cancer Therapy

(Pennsylvania) A novel vaccine therapy can generate immune responses in patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma, according to researchers at the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania. The treatment specifically targets human papillomavirus (HPV), which is frequently associated with the cancer, to trigger the immune response.

Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma is a cancer that develops in the mucous membranes of the mouth, and throat. While smoking and tobacco use are known causes, the number of cases related to HPV infection—a sexually transmitted infection so common that the Centers for Disease Control says almost all sexually active adults will contract it at some point in their lifetimes—is on the rise. The CDC now estimates 70 percent of all throat cancers in the United States are HPV-related. Sixty percent are caused by the subtype known as HPV 16/18.

“This is the subtype we target with this new therapy, and we’re the only site in the country to demonstrate immune activation with this DNA based immunotherapeutic vaccine for HPV 16/18 associated head and neck cancer,” said the study’s lead author Charu Aggarwal, MD, MPH, an assistant professor of hematology oncology in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

The vaccine is delivered as an injection of antigens, which leads the immune system to start producing antibodies and activate immune cells.

Full story:


Dr. Lee on the Impact of Immunotherapy in Head and Neck Cancer

Nancy Y. Lee, MD, vice chair, Department of Radiation Oncology, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, discusses the impact of immunotherapy in head and neck cancer.

Pembrolizumab (Keytruda) and Nivolumab (Opdivo) are both FDA-approved for the treatment of patients with head and neck cancer. The impact of these immunotherapy agents, says Lee, is that patients are living longer—whereas in the past they would have succumbed to their disease.

After immunotherapy is given, says Lee, the makeup of the patient is different—allowing some to respond to other types of therapies.

Full story:


Good News at Fred Hutch

If cancer cells were a car, Dr. Eduardo Méndez of the Clinical Research Division at Fred Hutch has found a way to throw sand in the gears of certain head and neck cancers.
It’s a type of cancer for which patients struggle with quality of life, as the disfiguring tumors and current treatments for it can impinge on their ability to speak or eat. Less toxic, more targeted agents are needed, but to date, there is only one approved targeted agent and only about 10 percent of patients respond to this treatment.
With a new five-year, $2.2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health, Méndez and his team aim to develop the first targeted therapy that they hope will work for more patients with head and neck cancers.

Méndez studies the genomics of head and neck cancers, looking for vulnerabilities in the growth process of cancer cells. Even rapidly growing cancer cells need to stall their development at some points to make fixes, he said, and that’s where he’s looking for ways to stop cancer in its tracks.

“In a car race, you want to go fast but even so you have to strategize on when to stop to change tires or do other necessary maintenance,” Méndez explained.

Recent genomic studies have unveiled that loss of a gene called p53, a master regulator of cell growth, was the most frequently mutated gene in head and neck cancers and that this loss was associated with poor survival.

So far there’s no way therapeutically to restore p53, but Méndez and his team have discovered a promising alternative that could potentially benefit a large proportion of patients with head and neck cancers and possibly other tumors with this genetic defects.”

Full story:


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