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AACR Report Chronicles Research Progress

Posted by lynnesmith in The LLS Blog, 18 September 2014 · 223 views

A cancer progress report released this week by the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) highlights encouraging new therapies for patients with blood cancers, and shows how research continues to fuel significant advances.

The report covers several breakthrough blood cancer treatments, which The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) helped to advance, and features five blood cancer patients who share their treatment journeys.

The 2014 AACR Cancer Progress Report is a comprehensive educational tool that chronicles the progress that has been made against cancer; details how federal investment in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Cancer Institute (NCI) is transforming lives, and calls on the administration and Congress to make funding for biomedical research a national priority.

The report notes that thanks to research, Americans today are more likely to survive a cancer diagnosis and enjoy a higher quality of life than at any other time in history. An estimated 14.5 million cancer survivors live in the U.S. today.

Between Aug. 1, 2013, and July 31, 2014, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved six new anticancer therapeutics and new uses for five previously approved anticancer therapeutics. Three of those were for blood cancers, and two were advanced with help from LLS funding.

FDA approvals led to three new molecularly targeted treatment options for patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), the most common type of leukemia diagnosed among U.S. adults age 20 or older. Three were approved after having been designated a "breakthrough therapy."

Obinutuzumab is a molecularly targeted therapy that directs immune cells to attack cancer cells and has significantly improved survival rates. Ibrutinib, which targets a protein key to the expansion of B cells, shows great promise, and another molecularly targeted therapy, idelalisib, is approved for CLL and two forms of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Another treatment, belinostat, was approved in July 2014 for the treatment of patients with peripheral T-cell lymphoma who have become resistant or relapsed on prior therapies.

Immunotherapy was also highlighted as a promising field. A T-cell immunotherapy, CTL019, also known as CAR T-cell immunotherapy, which employs genetically engineered immune cells to naturally destroy cancer cells, received breakthrough therapy designation for the treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). CAR T-cell therapy has been particularly successful for adults and children with ALL, and has also shown promise for adults with CLL. Researchers are working to develop CAR T-cells that will target other types of cancer, including acute myeloid leukemia and multiple myeloma.

Other notable points from the Report:

• Research discoveries continue to advance precision medicine: Five of the six new anticancer therapies are molecularly targeted agents.

• Cancer genomics research is the foundation for novel clinical trials designed to accelerate the pace at which new personalized therapies are approved for patient care.

• Cancer immunotherapies are continuing to yield remarkable, long-lasting patient responses in several types of cancer.
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