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News Article | April 25, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

HOUSTON - (April 25, 2017) - Higher costs for complex cancer surgery may be an indicator for worse -- rather than better -- quality of care, according to new research by experts at Rice University and the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Their findings are published in the journal Surgery and provide multiple implications for care delivery. In the study, the authors analyzed Medicare hospital and physician claims from 2005 to 2009 for patients who were age 65 or older from all 50 states. The researchers looked at six different cancer operations: colectomy, rectal resection, pulmonary lobectomy, pneumonectomy, esophagectomy and pancreatic resection. In their initial review of the data, they found that surgeons who performed just two operations of a specific type in a given year versus one could achieve patient cost savings for four of the six cancer operations, ranging from 0.6 percent for colectomy to 2.8 percent for pancreatic resection. Savings for the highest-volume surgeons (at the 95th percentile of the volume distribution) were even greater. A surgeon performing 14 pancreatic resections had patient costs that were 8.5 percent lower ($3,286) than a surgeon who performed only one operation; and a surgeon performing 22 colectomies per year had costs that were 5.4 percent lower ($1,089). However, when the researchers accounted for the processes of care listed in each patient's treatment, the cost savings associated with high-volume surgeons decreased by 50 percent for pancreatic resection and completely disappeared for colectomy. Apparent cost savings for pulmonary lobectomy also disappeared, and cost savings for rectal resection also fell substantially, said co-author Vivian Ho, the chair in health economics at Rice's Baker Institute for Public Policy and director of the institute's Center for Health and Biosciences. Processes of care are actions that health care providers take to improve the quality of care and patient outcomes, such as placing of arterial lines or providing epidural anesthesia. Many of these are actions taken to avoid or treat complications that can occur during surgery. "Basically, our analyses indicate that the lower patient costs achieved by high-volume surgeons can be explained by their lower occurrence of processes of care that are associated with surgical complications, as well as their higher use of processes of care associated with better outcomes," said co-author Dr. Thomas Aloia, associate professor in the Department of Surgical Oncology, Division of Surgery, at MD Anderson. "People mistakenly think that higher spending in health care implies higher quality care," Ho said. "In this case, higher spending is a marker of worse patient care. The results imply that patients who need cancer surgery can expect lower costs and better outcomes with high-volume surgeons." "Can Postoperative Process-of-Care Utilization or Complication Rates Explain the Volume-Cost Relationship for Cancer Surgery?" was also co-authored by Marah Short, associate director of the Baker Institute's Center for Health and Biosciences. The study references a 2008 paper by the authors that found that patients treated by surgeons performing a higher number of particular cancer operations (such as pneumonectomy for lung cancer or esophagectomy for esophageal cancer) had lower costs for their hospital stays compared with patients operated on by low-volume surgeons. However, the authors didn't know why this inverse volume-cost relationship existed. Their new research set out to find the reasons underlying the volume-cost relationship. "Our volume-cost comparison suggests that patients treated by low-volume surgeons were less likely to receive two processes of care (epidural anesthesia and daily epidural management) that have been associated with better patient outcomes," said Ho, who is also a professor of economics at Rice and a professor of medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. "However, patients treated by low-volume surgeons almost always were significantly more likely to experience transfusions, consultations and complication-related processes of care (for example, TPN, critical care and inpatient consultations)." TPN stands for total parenteral nutrition, in which patients who are unable to eat are administered nutrients intravenously. The results provide multiple implications for care delivery, the authors said. First, it may be beneficial to refer patients to high-volume surgeons because of the surgeons' enhanced value (higher quality with lower costs). Second, government and private insurers should compare measures of processes of care and complications across surgeons and notify hospitals about surgeons with high complication rates and processes of care associated with poor patient outcomes. Hospitals could work with surgeons to improve surgical care, which should improve patient care and lessen costs. More broadly, the results suggest that action under the Affordable Care Act to shift hospital reimbursement toward bundled payment for hospitals and doctors for complex surgery should be encouraged, the authors said. "The current fee-for-service system often leads to higher payments for physicians and hospitals when patients suffer surgical complications and require higher levels of care," Ho said. "Specifying a fixed, bundled payment that doesn't vary with treatment intensity will discourage low-volume surgeons from performing operations that could generate costly complications for which they will not be compensated." For more information, to receive a copy of the study or to schedule an interview with Ho, Aloia or Short, contact Jeff Falk, associate director of national media relations at Rice, at jfalk@rice.edu or 713-348-6775. Follow the Center for Health and Biosciences via Twitter @BakerCHB. Founded in 1993, Rice University's Baker Institute ranks among the top five university-affiliated think tanks in the world. As a premier nonpartisan think tank, the institute conducts research on domestic and foreign policy issues with the goal of bridging the gap between the theory and practice of public policy. The institute's strong track record of achievement reflects the work of its endowed fellows, Rice University faculty scholars and staff, coupled with its outreach to the Rice student body through fellow-taught classes -- including a public policy course -- and student leadership and internship programs. Learn more about the institute at http://www. or on the institute's blog, http://blogs. .


TORONTO, Feb. 21, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Profound Medical Corp. (TSX-V:PRN) (“Profound” or the “Company”), an emerging medical device company focused on prostate care, will announce its fourth quarter and full 2016 financial results after market close on Monday, March 6, 2017. Profound CEO, Arun Menawat and VP of Finance, Rashed Dewan, will host a conference call at 5:00 p.m. ET to review the financial results and discuss business developments in the period. Also on the call to provide first-hand insights on the use of TULSA-PRO® in clinical practice will be Dr. Joseph L. Chin, Chief of Surgical Oncology for the London Health Sciences Centre at Western University. Dr. Chin, a world-renowned urologist and researcher, served as the study principal investigator for the TULSA-PRO Phase I clinical trial and is also serving as the site principal investigator for the pivotal TACT trial. A Professor of Urology and Oncology at Western, Dr. Chin also serves as the Chair of the Surgical Oncology Division and Head of the Provincial Surgical Oncology Program for the Southwestern Ontario Region, and as the Chair of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada Specialty Committee in Urology. The call will also be broadcast live and archived on the Company's website at profoundmedical.com under "Investor Presentations" in the Investor Relations section. Profound is currently conducting a pilot commercial launch of TULSA-PRO in key European and other CE mark jurisdictions. The Company is also sponsoring a multicenter, prospective FDA-registered clinical trial, TACT, which is designed to further demonstrate the safety and effectiveness of this innovative technology.  If successful, TACT is expected to support Profound's application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for approval to market TULSA-PRO in the United States. The Profound Medical team is committed to the effort to achieve a new therapeutic standard in prostate cancer. For the millions of men currently living with prostate cancer, and the thousands more who are diagnosed with it every year, current treatment options often mean having to make difficult choices based on potential side effects that can significantly impact quality of life.  Our mission is to profoundly change the standard of care by creating a tomorrow where clinicians can confidently ablate cancerous prostate tissue with precision, while actively protecting critical anatomy from potential side effects; a tomorrow where patients have access to a safe, fast and effective treatment option, so they can quickly return to their daily lives. Established in 2008, Profound Medical is commercializing a novel technology, TULSA-PRO, which combines real-time Magnetic Resonance Imaging with transurethral, robotically-driven therapeutic ultrasound and closed-loop thermal feedback control that is designed to provide precise ablation of the prostate while simultaneously protecting critical surrounding anatomy from potential side effects. TULSA-PRO is CE Marked and Profound is sponsoring a multicenter, prospective FDA-registered clinical trial, TACT. This release includes forward-looking statements regarding Profound and its business which may include, but is not limited to, the expectations regarding the efficacy of Profound’s technology in the treatment of prostate cancer. Often, but not always, forward-looking statements can be identified by the use of words such as "plans", "is expected", "expects", "scheduled", "intends", "contemplates", "anticipates", "believes", "proposes" or variations (including negative variations) of such words and phrases, or state that certain actions, events or results "may", "could", "would", "might" or "will" be taken, occur or be achieved. Such statements are based on the current expectations of the management of Profound. The forward-looking events and circumstances discussed in this release, may not occur by certain specified dates or at all and could differ materially as a result of known and unknown risk factors and uncertainties affecting the company, including risks regarding the pharmaceutical industry, economic factors, the equity markets generally and risks associated with growth and competition. Although Profound has attempted to identify important factors that could cause actual actions, events or results to differ materially from those described in forward-looking statements, there may be other factors that cause actions, events or results to differ from those anticipated, estimated or intended. No forward-looking statement can be guaranteed. Except as required by applicable securities laws, forward-looking statements speak only as of the date on which they are made and Profound undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise, other than as required by law. Neither TSX Venture Exchange nor its Regulation Services Provider (as that term is defined in policies of the TSX Venture Exchange) accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release.


News Article | February 21, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

Melanoma patients' response to a major form of immunotherapy is associated with the diversity and makeup of trillions of potential allies and enemies found in the digestive tract, researchers at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center report at the ASCO-Society for Immunotherapy in Cancer meeting in Orlando. Analysis of 113 fecal samples of patients with metastatic melanoma found that those who responded to a PD1 checkpoint inhibitor had a greater diversity of gut bacteria and larger volumes of a specific type of bacteria than those who did not respond. This connection between a person's microbiome - trillions of bacteria harbored to varying degrees in the human body -- and immune system could have major implications for cancer prognosis and treatment. "Anti-PD1 immunotherapy is effective for many, but not all, melanoma patients and responses aren't always durable," said Jennifer Wargo, M.D., associate professor of Surgical Oncology. "Our findings point to two potential impacts from additional research -- analyzing the diversity and composition of the microbiome to predict response to immunotherapy and modulating the gut microbiome to enhance treatment," said Wargo, senior researcher on the project and co-leader of the Melanoma Moon Shot™, part of MD Anderson's Moon Shots Program™ to reduce cancer deaths by accelerating development of therapies from scientific discoveries. PD1 is a protein on the surface of T cells, the immune system's specialized attack cells, that shuts down immune response. Anti-PD1 drugs use an antibody to block activation of PD1 by PD-L1, a ligand found on tumors and surrounding cells. Wargo and colleagues are conducting preclinical research to better understand the mechanisms that connect bacteria and the immune system. They're also designing clinical trials to test the hypothesis that modifying the gut microbiome might improve patients' responses to checkpoint inhibitors. "Evidence from preclinical research had previously indicated a relationship between solid tumors, immune response, and the microbiome. Our study was the first of its type to look at the relationship between the microbiome and immunotherapy response in patients," said Vancheswaran Gopalakrishnan, first author and doctoral student at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Public Health. Gopalakrishnan, Wargo and colleagues examined oral and gut microbiome samples from 228 patients with metastatic melanoma. While no differences in response were found in connection with the oral samples, the 113 fecal samples told another story. Gopalakrishnan said the team conducted 16S rRNA sequencing, an analysis of the presence of 16S ribosomal RNA used to identify bacteria. Among the 93 patients treated with anti-PD1 immune checkpoint blockade, the researchers had gut microbiome samples from 30 responders and 13 non-responders. They found: The researchers also conducted immune profiling before treatment for the presence of important immune system cells in the tumors. Responders had significantly increased immune infiltrates in their tumors, including the presence of CD8+ killer T cells, correlated to the abundance of a specific bacterium. Even as they conduct deeper research into the microbiome and the metabolites produced by bacteria to affect the immune response, the team is also studying ways to change the composition of the microbiome. "The microbiome is highly targetable in a variety of ways," Gopalakrishnan said, including by diet, probiotics to boost the presence of helpful bacteria, antibiotics or by fecal transplants. In collaboration with the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy (PICI), the first clinical trial is expected to launch later this year. Research also continues funded by MD Anderson's Melanoma Moon Shot™. The Melanoma Research Alliance and PICI also provided support for this study. Co-authors with Gopalakrishnan and Wargo are Christine Spencer, Tatiana Karpinets, Ph.D., Robert Jenq, M.D., and Andrew Futreal, Ph.D., of Genomic Medicine; Alexandre Reuben, Ph.D., Peter Prieto, M.D., and Jeffrey Gershenwald, M.D., of Surgical Oncology; Kristi Hoffman, Ph.D., of Cancer Prevention; Michael Tetzlaff, Ph.D., M.D., and Alexander Lazar, M.D., Ph.D., of Pathology; Michael Davies, M.D., Ph.D., and Patrick Hwu, M.D., of Melanoma Medical Oncology; Padmanee Sharma, M.D., Ph.D., of Genitourinary Medical Oncology and Immunology; Jim Allison, Ph.D., of Immunology; Carrie Daniel-MacDougall, Ph.D., of Epidemiology; and Diane Hutchinson, Ph.D., Nadim Ajami, Ph.D., and Joseph Petrosino, Ph.D., of Baylor College of Medicine.


News Article | March 1, 2017
Site: www.prweb.com

Breast Surgeon, Dr. Dennis Holmes of 90210 Surgery Medical Center will review minimally invasive cryoablation for the treatment of early stage breast cancer and where it fits in the treatment paradigm at Susan G. Komen San Diego’s Annual Dinner Symposium, “Screens, Genes & The Choices We Make.” The event brings together leading cancer and wellness experts to share the latest innovations in breast cancer research, treatment and holistic well-being. The symposium will take place on Thursday, March 16, 2017 at the San Diego Del Mar Marriott. Dr. Holmes is an internationally renowned breast surgeon and cancer researcher currently serving as Interim Director of the Margie Petersen Breast Center at Providence St. John’s Health Center and Interim Director, John Wayne Cancer Institute Breast Surgery Fellowship Program. Formerly, Dr. Holmes held the positions of Chief Breast Surgeon and Medical Director of the Los Angeles Center for Women’s Health, and Chief Breast Cancer Surgeon, and Breast Cancer Research Committee Co-Chair at the University of Southern California Kenneth Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center. Dr. Holmes has been a pioneer in the field of minimally invasive breast surgery, including intraoperative radiotherapy, lymph node-sparing surgery and cryoablation “I am thrilled to partner with Komen San Diego, as we share similar goals - to save lives and pursue the best breast cancer treatments,” said Dr. Holmes. Currently, the standard of care for early stage breast cancer is surgery (e.g. lumpectomy, mastectomy) and sentinel node biopsy followed by breast radiotherapy and adjuvant endocrine and/or chemotherapy. Although surgery offers tumor removal and margin verification, a major drawback of surgery is the cosmetic and functional impairment of the breast resulting from volume changes, scar formation, nipple displacement, sensation changes, skin/scar retraction, and re-excision rate. Dr. Holmes was an investigator in the National Cancer Institute Z1072 Clinical Trial sponsored by the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology. The trial examined cryoablation for the treatment of early stage breast cancer. In a 5-year multicenter study, cryoablation was shown to be 92% effective for complete ablation of invasive breast tumors ≤2 cm and 100% effective for complete ablation of invasive ductal breast cancer tumors <1.0 cm. Results from this breast cancer study (ACOSOG Z1072), which included a 5-year follow-up, were published in the Annals of Surgical Oncology. The Visica® 2 Treatment System developed by Sanarus Technologies, was the exclusive device used in the Z1072 study. “Cryoablation is a very promising alternative to traditional surgery for early stage breast cancer. Cryoablation minimizes changes in breast volume and nipple position, and avoids prominent scars,” explained Dr. Holmes. “The outstanding results of Z0172 inspired me to start the FROST Clinical Study, for which I now serve as Principal Investigator.” The FROST Clinical Study is the evolution of data from Z1072, which examines the rate of successful tumor ablation in patients treated with cryoablation of the primary tumor instead of surgical removal of early stage breast cancer. The FROST Clinical Study is currently enrolling women age 50 and older with core needle biopsy proven clinical stage I, T1, (≤1.5 cm) clinically node negative (N0), unifocal, hormone receptor positive and HER2/neu-negative invasive ductal carcinoma. Cryoablation with the Visica 2 Treatment System is a nonsurgical option for patients that have been diagnosed with early stage breast cancer, is visible on sonogram, and has been confirmed with a biopsy. This procedure has many benefits including: under 30-minutes, local anesthesia, in-office, excellent cosmesis, cost efficient, and quick patient recovery. Cryoablation is a viable option to surgery that results in complete early stage tumor ablation. About Dr. Holmes Dr. Holmes serves in the leadership of several national surgical societies and is a frequent lecturer at national conferences. He is a member of the education committee of the American Society of Breast Surgeons. Dr. Holmes is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and was also recently selected as Board Chair and President of the TARGIT Collaborative Group, a national research and education organization. Widely respected by colleagues for his innovative approach to breast cancer care, Dr. Holmes has gained worldwide acclaim for his pioneering research in targeted intraoperative radiotherapy. Dr. Holmes believes wholeheartedly that, with proper treatment, most women diagnosed with breast cancer will live a long, fulfilling life—a life both richer and more meaningful than they could have ever imagined. Find out more at http://www.drholmesmd.com About Sanarus Technologies In 2001, the Visica® 2 Treatment System was the first device available for cryoablation of fibroadenomas. Since then, our system has been used to successfully treat thousands of patients. The Visica 2 Treatment System is FDA-cleared for the ablation of cancerous or malignant tissue and benign tumors. At Sanarus, we develop innovative solutions for the nonsurgical treatment of breast tumors. We are headquartered in Pleasanton, CA, and all our products are manufactured in the USA. Find out more at http://www.sanarus.com ABOUT SUSAN G. KOMEN SAN DIEGO®: Since its inception in 1995, Komen San Diego has granted more than $18 million to research and local non-profits who provide everything from free diagnostic mammograms, meal delivery, temporary financial aid, transportation and more. Seventy-five percent of every dollar raised in San Diego stays in San Diego County to fund breast health services for uninsured and underinsured women and their families. The remaining 25 percent funds international breast cancer research. In fact, next to the U.S. government, Susan G. Komen® is the largest funder of breast cancer research in the world. For more information, please visit http://www.komensandiego.org. Connect with us on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram.


News Article | March 1, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

It's what's missing in the tumor genome, not what's mutated, that thwarts treatment of metastatic melanoma with immune checkpoint blockade drugs, researchers at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center report in Science Translational Medicine. Whole exome sequencing of tumor biopsies taken before, during and after treatment of 56 patients showed that outright loss of a variety of tumor-suppressing genes with influence on immune response leads to resistance of treatment with both CTLA4 and PD1 inhibitors. The team's research focuses on why these treatments help 20-30 percent of patients -- with some complete responses that last for years - but don't work for others. Their findings indicate that analyzing loss of blocks of the genome could provide a new predictive indicator. "Is there a trivial or simple (genomic) explanation? There doesn't seem to be one," said co-senior author Andrew Futreal, Ph.D., professor and chair of Genomic Medicine and co-leader of MD Anderson's Moon Shots Program™. "There's no obvious correlation between mutations in cancer genes or other genes and immune response in these patients." "There are, however, pretty strong genomic copy loss correlates of resistance to sequential checkpoint blockade that also pan out for single-agent treatment," Futreal said. Doctoral candidate Whijae Roh, co-lead author, Futreal, and co-senior author Jennifer Wargo, M.D., associate professor of Surgical Oncology and Genomic Medicine, and colleagues analyzed the genomic data for non-mutational effects. "We found a higher burden of copy number loss correlated to response to immune checkpoint blockade and to lower immune scores, a measure of immune activation in the tumor's microenvironment," said Roh, a graduate student in the University of Texas MD Anderson UTHealth Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. "We also found copy loss has an effect that is independent of mutational load in the tumors." Melanoma tumors with larger volumes of genetic alterations, called mutational load, provide more targets for the immune system to detect and are more susceptible to checkpoint blockade, although that measure is not conclusive alone. "Combining mutational load and copy number loss could improve prediction of patient response," Wargo said. When the team stratified patients in another data set of patients by whether they had high or low copy loss or high or low mutational load, they found that 11 of 26 patients with high mutational load and low copy loss had a clinical benefit, while only 4 or 26 with low mutational load and high copy loss benefited from treatment. In the trial, patients were treated first with the immune checkpoint inhibitor ipilimumab, which blocks a brake called CTLA4 on T cells, the immune system's specialized warriors, freeing them to attack. Patients whose melanoma did not react then went on to anti-PD1 treatment (nivolumab), which blocks a second checkpoint on T cells. Biopsies were taken, when feasible, before, during and after treatment for molecular analysis to understand response and resistance. To better understand the mechanisms at work, the team analyzed tumor genomes for recurrent copy loss among 9 tumor biopsies from patients who did not respond to either drug and had high burden of copy number loss. They found repeated loss of blocks of chromosomes 6, 10 and 11, which harbor 13 known tumor-suppressing genes. Analysis of a second cohort of patients confirmed the findings, with no recurrent tumor-suppressor loss found among any of the patients who had a clinical benefit or long-term survival after treatment. Ipilimumab sometimes wins when it fails The researchers also found a hint that treatment with ipilimumab, even if it fails, might prime the patient's immune system for successful anti-PD1 treatment. The team analyzed the genetic variability of a region of the T cell receptors, a feature of T cells that allows them to identify, attack and remember an antigen target found on an abnormal cell or an invading microbe. They looked for evidence of T cell "clonality," an indicator of active T cell response. Among eight patients with longitudinal samples taken before treatment with both checkpoint types, all three who responded to anti-PD1 therapy had shown signs of T cell activation after anti-CTLA treatment. Only one of the five non-responders had similar indicators of T cell clonality. "That's evidence that anti-CTLA4 in some cases primes T cells for the next step, anti-PD1 immunotherapy. It's well known that if you don't have T cells in the tumor, anti-PD1 won't do anything, it doesn't bring T cells into the tumor," Futreal says. Overall, they found that T cell clonality predicts response to PD1 blockade but not to CTLA-4 blockade. "Developing an assay to predict response will take an integrated analysis, thinking about genomic signatures and pathways, to understand the patient when you start therapy and what happens as they begin to receive therapy," Wargo said. "Changes from pretreatment to on-therapy activity will be important as well." The Science Translational Medicine paper is the third set of findings either published or presented at scientific meetings by the team, which is led by Futreal and Wargo, who also is co-leader of the Melanoma Moon Shot™. Immune-monitoring analysis showed that presence of immune infiltrates in a tumor after anti-PD1 treatment begins is a strong predictor of success. They also presented evidence that the diversity and composition of a patient's gut bacteria also affects response to anti-PD1 therapy. The serial biopsy approach is a hallmark of the Adaptive Patient-Oriented Longitudinal Learning and Optimization™ (APOLLO) platform of the Moon Shots Program™, co-led by Futreal that systematically gathers samples and data to understand tumor response and resistance to treatment over time. The Moon Shots Program™ is designed to reduce cancer deaths by accelerating development of therapies, prevention and early detection from scientific discoveries. Futreal holds the The Robert A. Welch Distinguished University Chair in Chemistry at MD Anderson. Co-authors with Roh, Futreal and Wargo are co-first authors Pei-Ling Chen, M.D., of Genomic Medicine and Pathology, and Alexandre Reuben, Ph.D., of Surgical Oncology; also Christine Spencer, Feng Wang, Ph.D., Zachary Cooper, Ph.D., Curtis Gumbs, Latasha Little, Qing Chang, Wei-Shen Chen, M.D., and Jason Roszik, Ph.D., of Genomic Medicine; Michael Tetzlaff, Ph.D., M.D., and Victor Prieto, M.D., Ph.D., of Pathology; Peter Prieto, M.D., Vancheswaran Gopalakrishnan, Jacob L. Austin-Breneman, Hong Jiang, Ph.D., and Jeffrey Gershenwald, M.D., of Surgical Oncology; John Miller, Ph.D., Oncology Research for Biologics and Immunotherapy Translation (ORBIT); Sangeetha Reddy, M.D., Division of Cancer Medicine; Khalida Wani, Ph.D., Mariana Petaccia De Macedo, M.D., Ph.D., Eveline Chen, and Alexander Lazar, M.D., Ph.D., of Translational Molecular Pathology; Michael Davies, M.D., Ph.D., Hussein Tawbi, M.D., Ph.D., Patrick Hwu, M.D., Wen-Jen Hwu, M.D., Ph.D., Adi Diab, M.D., Isabella Glitza, M.D., Ph.D., Sapna Patel, M.D., Scott Woodman, M.D., Ph.D., and Rodabe Amaria, M.D., of Melanoma Medical Oncology; Jianhua Hu, Ph.D., of Biostatistics; Padmanee Sharma, M.D., Ph.D., and James Allison, Ph.D., of Immunology; Lynda Chin, M.D., University of Texas System; and Jianhua Zhang Ph.D., of the Institute for Applied Cancer Science. Wargo, Sharma and Allison are all members of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy. The research was funded by MD Anderson's Melanoma Moon Shot™, the Melanoma Research Alliance Team Science Award, the John G. and Marie Stella Kenedy Memorial Foundation, the University of Texas System STARS program; the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas; the American Society of Clinical Oncology; Conquer Cancer Foundation; the Dr. Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson Medical Research Foundation; and grants from the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health (U54CA163125, 1K08CA160692-01A1, T32CA009599, NIH T32 CA009666, R01 CA187076-02) and MD Anderson's Institutional Tissue Bank (2P30CA016672) Spencer and Gopalakrishnan are graduate students in The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Public Health.


News Article | February 23, 2017
Site: www.businesswire.com

YONKERS, N.Y.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--In a promising development for pet cancer patients in the Northeast, Animal Specialty Center (ASC) introduced its new TrueBeam™ Radiotherapy system to leading veterinary professionals with a formal ribbon cutting ceremony. The ribbon cutting for the TrueBeam system was part of a continuing education seminar that included a presentation entitled, “Combining Surgery and Radiation” by ASC’s Kendra Hearon, DVM, DACVS, Fellow in Surgical Oncology. “We are very excited to introduce this new technology to veterinary professionals because is it a real game-changer that will enable us to treat even the most challenging cases with unprecedented speed and pinpoint precision,” said Kari Rosen, DVM, DACVR RO at ASC. “With a broad spectrum of new capabilities, TrueBeam breaks the mold in just about every dimension, making it possible for us to offer faster, more targeted treatments to tumors even as they move and change over time.” “VCA is on the forefront of cancer treatment using the most sophisticated technology available to fight cancer,” said Karen Oberthaler, VMD, DACVIM Medical Oncology. “It’s vitally important for our profession to learn about new modalities and how they can be combined for maximum effectiveness, especially since there is very little in veterinary literature about this, despite its increasing frequency. This is a breakthrough that lets us bring a wider spectrum of advanced radiotherapy treatment options to many more patients.” More than 60 veterinarians and veterinary technicians were in attendance for the seminar, which was followed by a lively Q&A session. Among those participating in the ribbon cutting ceremony were Drs. Rosen, Hearon and Oberthaler from ASC, along with 40 industry colleagues. Located in Yonkers, New York, Animal Specialty Center is a full-service hospital staffed with leading board certified veterinary specialists, emergency doctors and a highly skilled support staff. The center offers 24/7 emergency care; critical care; internal medicine; neurology; medical oncology; radiation oncology; dentistry; cardiology; rehabilitation; and surgery and acupuncture. Our facility serves pet owners and their pets from Westchester and Rockland Counties, Connecticut, Manhattan and the Bronx. Clients from around the world have traveled to the hospital for consultations with highly skilled veterinary specialists, as well as our advanced, cutting edge diagnostic equipment and therapeutic procedures. The center provides an unparalleled level of comprehensive, specialized care with a team approach working closely with pet owners and family veterinarians from diagnosis through after care. VCA Animal Hospitals operates more than 650 small animal veterinary hospitals in the U.S. and Canada. The hospitals are staffed by more than 4,500 fully qualified, dedicated and compassionate veterinarians to give pets the very best in medical care, of which over 500 are board-certified specialists who are experts in areas such as Oncology, Cardiology, Emergency & Critical Care, and Surgery for animals. VCA Animal Hospitals provides a full range of general practice services to keep pets well and specialized treatments when pets are ill. For more information, please visit www.VCAhospitals.com or follow on Twitter @vcapethealth.


CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Syros Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: SYRS), a biopharmaceutical company pioneering the development of medicines to control the expression of disease-driving genes, today announced that its collaborator, Andrew Lowy, M.D., Professor of Surgery and Chief of the Division of Surgical Oncology at the University of California San Diego Moores Cancer Center, presented Syros’ drug discovery research in immuno-oncology at the Moores Cancer Center Industry/Academia Translational Oncology Symposium. As part of a research collaboration in pancreatic cancer with the Lowy laboratory at the Moores Cancer Center, Syros scientists discovered alterations in regulatory regions of the genome in tumor-associated macrophages in a subset of patient tissues. Because these alterations are unique to the immunosuppressive state, they could point to genes critical for driving immunosuppression in the tumor microenvironment, as well as potential drug targets to reactivate the immune system to fight cancer. “Syros’ gene control platform provides a unique lens for understanding how cancer can evade and manipulate the body’s immune system to fuel its growth and become resistant to existing therapies,” Dr. Lowy said. “Through investigation of the immune components within the tumor microenvironment, our hope is to develop medicines that can unleash our natural defenses against cancer.” Together with the Lowy laboratory, Syros used its proprietary gene control platform to isolate tumor-associated macrophages directly from pancreatic cancer patient tissues and analyze regulatory regions of DNA in these cells. Then, by comparing those regions in the tumor-associated macrophages to those from healthy donors, Syros scientists identified alterations unique to the immunosuppressive state. Tumor-associated macrophages are of significant interest in immuno-oncology because they play a key role in the body’s immune response to cancer, with M1 macrophages promoting immune-mediated tumor regression and M2 macrophages allowing tumors to grow unimpeded. “The inclusion of our research at this conference reflects the recognition among academic and industry leaders of the promise of Syros’ gene control platform to uncover important insights into the mechanisms employed by cancer cells to essentially shut down the immune response within the tumor and to create drugs that can increase killing of tumor cells by the immune system,” said Eric Olson, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer of Syros. “We believe our focus on the regulatory genome of immune and tumor cells isolated from primary tumors represents a distinct approach to immuno-oncology with the potential to provide a profound benefit for subsets of cancer patients.” Syros has a broader immuno-oncology drug discovery effort outside of the collaboration focused on identifying and drugging novel targets to control the function of immune cells within the tumor microenvironment. Using a similar approach to the one used in the Lowy collaboration, Syros has identified and validated a drug target that, when inhibited, re-activates tumor-associated macrophages to a pro-tumor killing state. Syros’ immuno-oncology research is focused on cancers in which the tumor microenvironment is known to play a key role in disease progression or drug resistance, including glioblastoma and pancreatic, triple negative breast and ovarian cancers. By analyzing immune and tumor cells directly in patient tumor tissues, Syros aims to better understand the heterogeneity of immune responses among patients and identify subsets of patients most likely to respond to specific immunotherapy strategies. About Syros Pharmaceuticals Syros Pharmaceuticals is pioneering the understanding of the non-coding region of the genome to advance a new wave of medicines that control expression of disease-driving genes. Syros has built a proprietary platform that is designed to systematically and efficiently analyze this unexploited region of DNA in human disease tissue to identify and drug novel targets linked to genomically defined patient populations. Because gene expression is fundamental to the function of all cells, Syros’ gene control platform has broad potential to create medicines that achieve profound and durable benefit across a range of diseases. Syros is currently focused on cancer and immune-mediated diseases and is advancing a growing pipeline of gene control medicines. Syros’ lead drug candidates are SY-1425, a selective RARα agonist in a Phase 2 clinical trial for genomically defined subsets of patients with acute myeloid leukemia and myelodysplastic syndrome, and SY-1365, a selective CDK7 inhibitor with potential in a range of solid tumors and blood cancers. Led by a team with deep experience in drug discovery, development and commercialization, Syros is located in Cambridge, Mass. Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of The Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, including without limitation statements regarding the benefits of Syros’ gene control platform in the field of immuno-oncology. The words ‘‘anticipate,’’ ‘‘believe,’’ ‘‘continue,’’ ‘‘could,’’ ‘‘estimate,’’ ‘‘expect,’’ ‘‘intend,’’ ‘‘may,’’ ‘‘plan,’’ ‘‘potential,’’ ‘‘predict,’’ ‘‘project,’’ ‘‘target,’’ ‘‘should,’’ ‘‘would,’’ and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements, although not all forward-looking statements contain these identifying words. Actual results or events could differ materially from the plans, intentions and expectations disclosed in these forward-looking statements as a result of various important factors, including: Syros’ ability to: advance the development of its programs; obtain and maintain patent protection for its drug candidates and the freedom to operate under third party intellectual property; demonstrate in any current and future clinical trials the requisite safety, efficacy and combinability of its drug candidates; replicate scientific and non-clinical data in clinical trials;; obtain and maintain necessary regulatory approvals; identify, enter into and maintain collaboration agreements with third parties; manage competition; manage expenses; raise the substantial additional capital needed to achieve its business objectives; attract and retain qualified personnel; and successfully execute on its business strategies; risks described under the caption “Risk Factors” in the company’s Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended September 30, 2016, which is on file with the Securities and Exchange Commission; and risks described in other filings that the company makes with the Securities and Exchange Commission in the future. Any forward-looking statements contained in this press release speak only as of the date hereof, and Syros expressly disclaims any obligation to update any forward-looking statements, whether because of new information, future events or otherwise.


News Article | February 15, 2017
Site: www.prweb.com

Global Breast Health & Wellness Center, founded by Dr. April Speed, announced it has expanded its cryoablation treatment of fibroadenoma to include early stage breast cancer with the Visica® 2 Treatment System. Developed by Sanarus Technologies, the Visica 2 Treatment System is a cryoablation device that uses extreme cold liquid nitrogen (cryo) to destroy tissue (ablation). The device destroys the tumor by freezing and damaging the adjacent vasculature that fuels tumor growth. Dr. April L. Speed is board-certified by the American College of Surgeons and is a member of the American Society of Breast Surgeons, the Society of Surgical Oncology and the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). Dr. Speed was recognized by her peers and awarded the ASCO National Diversity in Oncology Award in 2009. Cryoablation—also referred to as tumor freezing—is a minimally invasive procedure done under ultrasound guidance in the doctor’s office or radiology suite. After injection of local anesthesia, a thin probe is inserted through the skin directly into the tumor. Liquid nitrogen is pumped into the probe to form an “ice ball” around the lesion. Freezing destroys the tumor cells, which are then reabsorbed by the body over time. The procedure can be done in less than an hour with most patients reporting minimal discomfort and a resumption of normal activity right away. Little, if any, visible scarring occurs. Because no breast tissue is removed during the procedure, the natural shape of the breast is maintained. ”I’ve been providing cryoablation for the treatment of fibroadenomas since 2015 and have obtained very good results” said Dr. Speed. “Those results coupled with the publication of the National Cancer Institute Z1072 Trial have truly encouraged me to expand my practice to offer cryoablation for early stage breast cancer tumors.” In a 5-year multicenter study funded by the National Cancer Institute and sponsored by the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology, cryoablation with the Visica 2 Treatment System was shown to be 100% effective for complete ablation of invasive ductal breast cancer tumors <1.0 cm. The Visica 2 Treatment System was the exclusive device used in the Z1072 study and showed cryoablation to be effective in 92% of the targeted lesions. Results from this breast cancer study (ACOSOG Z1072), which included a 5-year follow-up, were published in the Annals of Surgical Oncology. Dr. Speed further explained that “In November 2016, I opened my new state of the art facility located in Buckhead to provide Greater Atlanta with a comprehensive, 100% dedicated, breast surgery practice. Cryoablation is one of our primary treatment options for our patients because it provides an opportunity for women to have cutting edge therapy with dignity and detail performed in a serene, patient-centered environment. It also gives women the benefit of a minimally invasive procedure with little to no scarring, downtime, or discomfort.” Dr. Speed recently discussed cryoablation and other breast cancer related topics on Atlanta Business RadioX. She discussed the technology of cryoablation, who would qualify as a patient, and why she has chosen to offer cryoablation for the treatment of early stage breast cancer lesions. She has also been featured on CentricTV. Cryoablation with the Visica 2 Treatment System is a nonsurgical option for patients that have been diagnosed early stage breast tumor that is less than 4 cm in diameter, is visible on sonogram and has been confirmed with a biopsy. About Global Breast Health & Wellness Center Dr. Speed serves on several boards, the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Greater Atlanta Affiliate, and the Georgia Perimeter College. She's a highly sought-after speaker, author, consultant and lecturer on breast cancer and breast health. Dr. Speed has recently embarked upon an exciting venture of private practice in two convenient locations, Buckhead and Conyers, and welcomes all of her previous patients and new patients alike to continue to be a part of this amazing journey of transformation from your Breast Health to your Best Health℠. Let's treat it, beat it, move on!℠ To contact Dr. Speed go http://www.draprilspeed.com or call 678.210.2846 About Sanarus Technologies In 2001, the Visica® 2 Treatment System was the first available for cryoablation of fibroadenomas. Since then, our system has been used to successfully treat thousands of patients. The Visica 2 Treatment System is FDA-cleared for the ablation of cancerous or malignant tissue and benign tumors. At Sanarus, we develop innovative solutions for the nonsurgical treatment of breast tumors. We are headquartered in Pleasanton, CA, and all of our products are manufactured in the USA. Find out more at http://www.sanarus.com


News Article | February 15, 2017
Site: www.prweb.com

Diagnostic Center for Women has announced that Dr. Michael J. Plaza expands use of cryoablation treatment of fibroadenoma to include early stage breast cancer with the Visica® 2 Treatment System. Developed by Sanarus Technologies, the Visica 2 Treatment System is a cryoablation device that uses extreme cold (cryo) to destroy tissue (ablation). The device destroys the tumor by freezing and damaging the adjacent vasculature that fuels tumor growth. Dr. Michael J. Plaza is board-certified by the American Board of Radiology in Diagnostic Radiology. He completed his residency at University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Hospital and breast imaging fellowship at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Dr. Plaza has become the first radiologist in Miami to provide cryoablation for early stage breast cancer with the Visica 2 Treatment System. Cryoablation—also referred to as tumor freezing—is a minimally invasive procedure done under ultrasound guidance in the doctor’s office or radiology suite. After injection of local anesthesia, a thin probe is inserted through the skin directly into the tumor. Liquid nitrogen is pumped into the probe to form an “ice ball” around the lesion. Freezing destroys the tumor cells, which are then reabsorbed by the body over time. The procedure can be done in less than an hour with most patients reporting minimal discomfort and a resumption of normal activity right away. Little, if any, visible scarring occurs. Because no breast tissue is removed during the procedure, the natural shape of the breast is maintained. Dr. Plaza began using cryoablation for fibroadenoma in February 2016, and expanded to treating early stage breast cancer in October 2016. “We saw great results in treating benign breast tumors, and with the growing evidence in the medical literature, especially the National Cancer Institute Z1072 Trial we decided to expand our practice to include cryoablation of early stage breast cancer,” said Dr. Plaza. In a 5-year multicenter study funded by the National Cancer Institute and sponsored by the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology, cryoablation with the Visica 2 Treatment System was shown to be 100% effective for complete ablation of invasive ductal breast cancer tumors <1.0 cm. The Visica 2 Treatment System was the exclusive device used in the Z1072 study and showed cryoablation to be effective in 92% of the targeted lesions. Results from this breast cancer study (ACOSOG Z1072), which included a 5-year follow-up, were published in the Annals of Surgical Oncology. “Cryoablation is an evolution in the treatment of early stage breast cancer. Unlike surgery, it is a minimally invasive procedure that preserves the shape of the breast and can be performed in the office under 30 minutes while the patient is awake” Dr. Plaza explains. “Patients can typically return to work the next day. I am excited to bring this modality to the patients in Miami.” Cryoablation with the Visica 2 Treatment System is a nonsurgical option for patients that have been diagnosed with early stage breast cancer, is visible on sonogram and has been confirmed with a biopsy. About Diagnostic Center for Women The Diagnostic Center For Women is a premier imaging facility focused on fostering female wellness. Established in 1999, they are committed to providing the most reliable and comprehensive testing available. Their facility is accredited in mammography, breast and body MRI and obstetric and gynecologic ultrasound by the following organizations: American College of Radiology (ACR), Mammography, Intersocietal Accreditation Commission (IAC), Breast MRI, Body MRI, and American Institute of Ultrasound Medicine (AIUM), Obstetric and Gynecologic Ultrasound. “At the Diagnostic Center for Women, we understand your unique health needs.” Find out more at http://www.dxforwomen.com About Sanarus Technologies In 2001, the Visica® 2 Treatment System was the first available for cryoablation of fibroadenomas. Since then, our system has been used to successfully treat thousands of patients. The Visica 2 Treatment System is FDA-cleared for the ablation of cancerous or malignant tissue and benign tumors. At Sanarus, we develop innovative solutions for the nonsurgical treatment of breast tumors. We are headquartered in Pleasanton, CA, and all of our products are manufactured in the USA. Find out more at http://www.sanarus.com


ROSEMONT, Ill., Feb. 15, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Society of Surgical Oncology (SSO) will host the 70th SSO Annual Cancer Symposium March 15-18, 2017 at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle, Wash. SSO 2017 will unveil advancements in the surgical treatment of patients with solid tumor cancers and possibilities for improving oncologic outcomes. More than 1,700 surgical oncologists and other oncology health care professionals from around the globe will gather for education, networking and discussion on the latest research in surgical oncology. SSO 2017 will feature The Great Debates where leaders in surgical oncology present opposing perspectives and challenge their peers on four controversial topics including: SSO 2017 will also present four highly-anticipated lectures from the following leaders in surgical oncology: “SSO 2017 provides the opportunity for academic and community-based surgical oncologists and general surgeons from around the globe to see over 500 oral and video abstracts and scientific poster presentations,” said Daniel G. Coit, MD, president of SSO; attending surgeon, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center; Professor of Surgery, Weill Cornell Medical College. “Seattle’s reputation for innovation and scientific discovery are a complimentary backdrop to the research and insight that will be unveiled at this year’s meeting.” Additionally, SSO 2017 will include plenary sessions, parallel sessions, workshops, more than 400 compelling poster sessions, surgical video abstracts and an array of networking opportunities. There will also be an exhibition featuring some of the latest and most advanced medical equipment, services and solutions for surgical oncologists. For more information about SSO 2017, including access to the full Symposium schedule and registration, visit SSO2017.org. For complimentary media registration, contact Jenny Jaacks at jjaacks@davidjamesgroup.com. About the Society of Surgical Oncology The Society of Surgical Oncology (SSO) is the premier organization for surgeons and health care providers dedicated to advancing and promoting the science and treatment of cancer. The Society’s focus on all solid-tumor disease sites is reflected in its Annual Cancer Symposium, monthly scientific journal (Annals of Surgical Oncology), educational initiatives, and committee structure. The Society’s mission is to improve multidisciplinary patient care by advancing the science, education, and practice of cancer surgery worldwide.

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