NYU Langone Medical Center's tip sheet to the 45th Annual Meeting of ASCO

May 14, 2009

The following news tips are based on abstracts or posters to be presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) in Orlando, Florida, May 29 - June 2, 2008.

Abstract # 9075, 8 a.m. to noon on Monday, June 1, 2009
Antiparasitic drug is promising in animal studies of metastatic melanoma

Seth J. Orlow, M.D., Ph.D., the Samuel Weinberg Professor of Pediatric Dermatology and chairman of the Ronald O. Perelman Department of Dermatology and professor of cell biology and pediatrics.

A drug used to treat parasitic infections shows early promise in animal studies as a potential treatment for metastatic melanoma. Researchers from NYU Langone Medical Center report that the orally administered drug, mebendazole, inhibited the growth and progression of human melanoma tumors grafted in mice. The researchers observed in the animals a 72 percent reduction in tumor volume, the inactivation of a key protein that normally promotes melanoma survival and a concomitant 81 percent increase in cancer cells that were programmed to die. The researchers are now planning a clinical trial to investigate the appropriate dosing of the drug, a first step toward assessing the drug's effectiveness in patients with metastatic melanoma.

Abstract # 9006, 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 30, 2009
MicroRNAs may aid in prognosis of metastatic melanoma

Eva Hernando-Monge, Ph.D., assistant professor of pathology
Iman Osman, M.D., associate professor of dermatology and urology and director of the Interdisciplinary Melanoma Cooperative Group
Miguel F. Segura, Ph.D., postdoctoral fellow

Ongoing research at the NYU Cancer Institute suggests that micoRNA--a genetic element that controls protein-coding genes--may be useful as a biomarker for melanoma. In the latest study, levels of a specific group of microRNAs were associated with longer survival among patients with metastatic melanoma and among those whose cancer has recurred after treatment. Researchers analyzed single-stranded RNA molecules in cancer tissue samples at various sites in the body, including the brain and lymph nodes, from 59 metastatic melanoma patients. Higher levels of 18 specific miRNAs were associated with surviving more than 18 months. The researchers are evaluating whether 10 of these co-called "protective" miRNAs identified in the study can help predict the likelihood of surviving 18 months after cancer recurrence and whether these miRNAS may help predict the aggressiveness of the disease in earlier stages of melanoma.

Abstract # 9044, 8 a.m. to noon on Monday, June 1, 2009
Blood-based marker may be tied to poor melanoma prognosis

Iman Osman, M.D., associate professor of dermatology and urology and director of the Interdisciplinary Melanoma Cooperative Group

Higher levels of a protein found in the blood may be associated with a poor prognosis in melanoma patients. Researchers at the NYU Cancer Institute found that HU177, a connective tissue protein, was associated with a subset of melanoma patients with a poor prognosis. The study involved 209 patients whose serum levels of the protein were measured at the time of diagnosis. Thirty-eight of the 209 (18%) patients developed recurrences, and 34 of these patients subsequently died during the+ follow-up period of the study. Median follow-up time for survivors was 54.9 months, ranging from two to 81 months. The chances of staying free of cancer after a particular treatment, as well as the likelihood of survival over a certain period of time, were associated with higher serum levels of the protein. The correlation occurred even when other prognostic factors, such as tumor thickness and histology, were taken into account.

Abstract # 11034, Sunday, May 31, 2009, 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Overexpression of an oncogene linked to worse melanoma prognosis

Iman Osman, M.D., associate professor of dermatology and urology and director of the Interdisciplinary Melanoma Cooperative Group

Researchers at the NYU Cancer Institute present preliminary evidence that overabundant expression of an oncogene called Skp2 was associated with a worse melanoma prognosis. The activity of this gene was also linked to organs in the body where melanoma had spread. The study measured Skp2 protein levels in 122 metastatic melanoma specimens taken from patients' tissues. It found that increased Skp2 was associated with lower survival during a three-year period after recurrence.

Abstract # 11019, Sunday, May 31, 2009, 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Potential biomarker for early stage lung cancer

Jessica Donnington, M.D., assistant professor of cardiothoracic surgery

NYU Langone Medical Center researchers report that a protein in the blood appears to be a promising tool for monitoring early stage lung cancer. In a small study, they found higher levels of an extracellular structural protein called osteopontin (OPN) in patients with early stage non-small cell lung cancer compared to current or former smokers, and they also found that the levels decreased among patients who had undergone lung cancer surgery. The study involved 60 patients with early stage lung cancer, 56 current or former smokers, 78 patients with lung cancer advanced enough to be considered pre-operative and another matched group who had already undergone surgery. The researchers say the findings warrant further investigations of this biomarker in the early stages of this form of lung cancer.

Abstract #2017, Saturday, May 30, 2009. 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Drug may increase survival in brain cancer patients

Michael Gruber, M.D., clinical professor of neurology and neurosurgery
Shahzad Raza, M.D., clinical research associate in the department of radiation oncology
Ashwatha Narayana, M.D., associate professor of radiation oncology

Bevacizumab is a cancer treatment approved by the FDA to treat advanced or metastatic colorectal, lung, and breast cancers, and relapsed malignant glioblastoma, a form of brain cancer. A small study by researchers at NYU Cancer Institute suggests the drug may have a role in treating patients with newly diagnosed glioblastoma. The treatment, which inhibits tumor growth by blocking the formation of new blood vessels, was given to 24 glioblastoma patients who also received radiation and concomitant chemotherapy; another 31 patients received similar treatments but without bevacizumab. The group receiving bevacizumab lived longer during and after treatment without their disease worsening--half of the patients lived without their disease worsening a median of 12 months, compared to seven months in the non-bevacizumab group. One- and two-year overall survival rates were 85 percent and 50 percent, respectively, in the bevacizumab group compared to 74 percent and 22 percent in the other group. The researchers say that the results are encouraging and the drug merits testing in a phase III study.
-end-


NYU Langone Medical Center / New York University School of Medicine

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