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NYU Langone Medical Center's tip sheet to the 44th annual meeting of ASCO

The following news tips are based on abstracts or poster presentations at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) to be held in Chicago, Illinois, May 30 June 3, 2008.

Study Tracks a Biomarker for Early Detection of Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma

Abstract # 11074: Plasma osteopontin is an early detection and prognostic marker in malignant pleural mesothelioma
NYU Cancer Institutes Harvey Pass, M.D., professor of cardiothoracic surgery and surgery; division chief of thoracic surgery and thoracic oncology, at NYU Langone Medical Center

NYU Langone Medical Center researchers and their colleagues are making strides to find a way to reliably screen for pleural mesothelioma, which threatens an estimated 7.5 million workers in the United States who have been exposed to asbestos. The level of osteopontin (OPN), a protein biomarker, in blood serum has been characterized as an early sign of pleural mesothelioma, a cancer of the chest cavity and lungs that is caused by exposure to asbestos. But recent assays have shown that plasma OPN levels are a more reliable indicator of this type of cancer. Researchers from NYU Langone Medical Center, Karmanos Cancer Institute, and University of Hawaii Cancer Center present a study showing that plasma OPN levels are a sensitive biomarker. They measured OPN levels in blood plasma of 39 mesothelioma patients and 79 asbestos-exposed individuals; plasma OPN levels appeared a sensitive discriminator for the development of pleural mesothelioma in these high-risk individuals.

Finding Novel Biomarkers for Mesothelioma with MicroRNAs

Abstract # 11027
NYU Cancer Institutes Harvey Pass, M.D., professor of cardiothoracic surgery and surgery; division chief of thoracic surgery and thoracic oncology, at NYU Langone Medical Center

Differential microRNA expression in pleural mesothelioma: Implications for early detection and prognostication.

Researchers from NYU Langone Medical Center and Rosetta Genomics Ltd. present evidence from a study that used microRNAs (mirs) to discover potentially novel biomarkers for mesothelioma. Mirs are non-coding RNAs that suppress translation of genes into proteins and have a central role in gene regulation in health and disease. To better understand the molecular events that lead to the development of mesothelioma, the researchers examined whether mir profiles differed significantly between mesothelioma and normal abdominal mesothelium. Of 136 mirs that were expressed in at least one set of peritoneum (abdominal cavity) samples, 66 showed significant differential expression: 34 were upregulated in tumor samples, while 32 were downregulated in normal tissue. Validation of this data in larger subsets is ongoing.

New Strategy May Restore Androgen Sensitivity to Some Prostate Cancers

Abstract # 5065
Androgen receptor (AR) overexpression and sensitivity to hormones reversed by epigenetic therapy that restores Pura to a transcriptional repressor complex (RC) of AR deregulated in hormone refractory prostate cancer (HRPC).
NYU Cancer Institutes Anna Ferrari, M.D., associate professor of medicine; co-program leader for the genitourinary cancer research program, at NYU Langone Medical Center

NYU Langone Medical Center researchers present a new strategy that may lead to new therapies for prostate cancers that are resistant to anti-androgen therapy. These cancers are especially difficult to treat because they have limited responsiveness to chemotherapy and account for 35% of men with a diagnosis of prostate cancer, and eventually all men on hormone therapy for recurrent disease. The prognosis is less favorable than for cancers that are responding to androgen suppression therapy, one of the mainstays of prostate cancer treatment. The researchers reversed the resistance of prostate cancer cells with a new type of agent that releases molecules that have been silenced during cancer progression.

A Potential New Melanoma Cancer Vaccine

Abstract # 3044 : KBMA Listeria monocytogenes is an effective antigen loading platform for dendritic cell-mediated induction of anti-tumor immunity
NYU Cancer Institutes Nina Bhardwaj, M.D., professor of medicine, pathology, dermatology; director, tumor vaccine program, at NYU Langone Medical Center
NYU Cancer Institutes Mojca Skoberne, Ph.D. researcher, at NYU Langone Medical Center

NYU Langone Medical Center researchers report that killed but metabolically active recombinant Listeria monocytogenes, a Gram-positive bacterium, may provide a platform for novel melanoma vaccines. Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer, and will afflict some 62,480 people in the United States this year. The researchers demonstrate in an animal model and in vitro human cell cultures that immune cells were called into action by tumor proteins expressed by the bacterium. The finding suggests that the genetically engineered bacterium may be used to bolster the immune response against a resurgence of the deadly cancer. Clinical trials are underway at the medical center using a melanoma vaccine that employs powerful immune cells called dendritic cells. The bacterial approach to activate the dendritic cells may provide a new avenue for developing a more powerful cancer vaccine.

Early Results from a Chemotherapy Trial for Metastatic Melanoma

A phase I/II study to determine the feasibility and efficacy of the triple combination of oblimersen (OBL), abraxane (ABX), and temozolomide (TMZ) in metastatic melanoma and normal LDH
NYU Cancer Institutes Anna C Pavlick, D.O., assistant professor of medicine and dermatology at NYU Langone Medical Center; co-program leader, melanoma research program

Researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center report initial results from an early clinical trial investigating the safety and efficacy of a chemotherapy mixture for advanced melanoma. Chemotherapy-nave patients with metastatic melanoma received a therapy that combined oblimersen (OBL), abraxane (ABX) and temozolomide (TMZ). All 14 enrolled patients belonging to the first cohort have undergone at least one cycle of treatment. Thus far, one patient has had a confirmed complete response, five patients have exhibited a partial response (at least a 30 percent tumor reduction) lasting longer than two 56-day treatment cycles; three have stabilized for three cycles of chemotherapy; and five exhibited disease progression after 1 cycle. Both tumor and serologic biomarker assessments correlate with a positive clinical response and progressive disease.

How Women Perceive Their Risk of Getting Breast Cancer

Abstract # 1542: Breast cancer risk perception in a high-risk population
NYU Cancer Institutes Freya Schnabel M.D., professor of surgery and director of breast surgery at NYU Langone Medical Center

NYU School of Medicine researchers announce findings from a study that evaluated how women perceive their chances of getting breast cancer. The study was open to women regardless of risk and excluded those with a prior history of breast cancer. The study demonstrates that educational efforts significantly increased the accuracy of womens perception of breast cancer risk. Thirty-eight women filled out questionnaires before and after an educational seminar on breast cancer risk and provided information that included family history, reproductive history, and prior benign breast disease. The study identifies the need to increase womens awareness of their actual lifetime risk of developing breast cancer and highlights misperceptions about interventions that can reduce their risk.


Contact: Jennifer Berman
NYU Langone Medical Center / New York University School of Medicine

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