Newswise — Sylvester Expert Endorses FDA’s Recent Cancer Drug Approval

Mikkael Sekeres, M.D., chief of the Division of Hematology at Sylvester, who specializes in treating leukemia and myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS), expressed his support for the Food and Drug Administration’s recent approval of the drug imetelstat. The drug, a telomerase inhibitor, treats cancer-related anemia in patients with lower-risk MDS. “With approval of imetelstat to treat myelodysplastic syndromes, we finally have another approach we can offer to patients with profound and debilitating anemia from their cancer,” Sekeres said.

Study May Lead to More Patients Receiving Stem-Cell Transplants

A new use for an older drug may enable more patients with high-risk blood cancers to receive transplanted stem cells from unrelated, partially matched donors, according to new research from Sylvester. The repurposed drug, cyclophosphamide, could help expand the donor pool, especially for underrepresented racial and ethnic groups who often struggle to find fully matched donors. Antonio Jimenez Jimenez, M.D., Sylvester’s primary investigator for the cyclophosphamide studies, called the findings “transformational.”

Recent FDA Committee Vote Could Speed Multiple Myeloma Drug Approval

An FDA Committee voted in April to approve minimal residual disease (MRD) as a clinical endpoint when evaluating drugs for multiple myeloma. The unanimous vote was based primarily on Sylvester-led research spearheaded by C. Ola Landgren, M.D., Ph.D., director of its Myeloma Research Institute. His study, published May 20 in the journal Blood, shows “a very tight correlation between MRD and clinical outcomes both in newly diagnosed and relapsed patients,” he explained. If the FDA adopts the committee’s recommendations, which it usually does, the result will be a special, accelerated pathway for drug approval based on MRD.

Landgren Highlights Quadruple Therapies, Future of Multiple Myeloma Treatment

Landgren also highlighted quadruple therapies and the rapidly evolving treatment landscape for multiple myeloma at the recent American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASC0) annual meeting. He explained how newer combination therapies are “great improvements for patients and deliver deep responses” against multiple myeloma, the second most common blood cancer. Quadruple therapy involves adding a monoclonal antibody drug to the “backbone” of small-molecule drugs commonly used to treat this cancer.  


Foreign-Trained Female Oncologists Face Multiple Forms of Discrimination

New research from Sylvester and other top-tier cancer centers presented recently at ASCO 2024 shows that female physicians who trained outside the U.S. or in Puerto Rico faced more challenges and reported higher levels of gender or race/ethnicity-based discrimination than their male counterparts. “Society still sees us as inferior to men and that translates beyond our gender to also include our race or ethnic background,” said Coral Olazagasti, M.D., a thoracic medical oncologist at Sylvester and lead presenter at the ASCO meeting.


Sylvester’s Estelamari Rodriguez Recognized as GRACE Patient Educator of Year

Estelamari Rodriguez, M.D., has been honored with the Patient Educator of the Year award from Cancer GRACE (Global Resource for Advancing Cancer Education). The award was presented last month in recognition of Rodriguez’s work to break down language barriers worldwide by creating Spanish-language educational content about lung cancer for patients  and caregivers. Rodriguez, a Latina bilingual thoracic oncologist at Sylvester, has seen firsthand how language barriers often prevent Spanish-speaking patients from receiving optimal care.     


Study: Access to Targeted Lung Cancer Drug Is Cost-Prohibitive Globally

A Sylvester study examining the cost-effectiveness of the immunotherapy drug durvalumab for lung cancer showed that the drug exceeded official cost thresholds in the U.S. and three other countries: Brazil, Singapore and Spain. The findings could help guide drug-pricing strategies to reduce financial burdens and increase the number of patients who benefit from treatment, said Gilberto Lopes, M.D., Sylvester’s chief of Medical Oncology and director for International Affairs.


Initiative Promotes Lifestyle Modifications to Help High-Risk Cancer Patients

A Sylvester initiative offers personalized lifestyle modifications and support programs to people at elevated cancer risk due to genetic mutations, including BRCA and Lynch syndrome. The High-Risk Lifestyle Medicine, Prevention and Digital Health Program is part of Sylvester’s Diamond Hereditary Cancer Prevention Initiative, funded by a $5-million gift from the Diamond family. “The latest evidence suggests modifiable behaviors within each person’s control, like regular exercise and following a healthy diet pattern, can attenuate overall cancer risk,” said Tracy E. Crane, Ph.D., co-lead of Sylvester’s Cancer Control Program.

Read more on the InventUM blog and follow @SylvesterCancer on X for the latest news on its research and care.

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Sandy Van
[email protected]