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Summit, Colorado Center for Personalized Medicine to Develop Saliva Tests for COVID, Head & Neck Cancer

AURORA, Colo., Oct. 14, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Summit Biolabs, Inc., an early-stage molecular diagnostics company specializing in saliva-based testing for COVID-19 and head & neck cancer, and the Colorado Center for Personalized Medicine (CCPM) at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus announced today a broad strategic collaboration involving research, development and commercialization of saliva liquid-biopsy tests for early cancer detection and diagnosis of COVID-19 and other viral contagions.

The CCPM holds one of the largest research biobanks in the United States with clinical data from more than 8.7 million de-identified patient records and plans to integrate the data with personalized genomic information.

“This partnership brings two innovative programs together to optimize COVID testing at a time when it’s desperately needed,” says Kathleen Barnes, Ph.D., Professor and Director of CCPM at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. “Collaborations like this are crucial in moving research forward and advancing and expanding clinical testing to as many members of our community as possible. Working with Summit Biolabs, and leveraging technology developed by our colleagues here at the Anschutz Medical Campus, will help us achieve these goals and establish a non-invasive testing process that will benefit patients in Colorado and beyond.”

Summit Biolabs is developing breakthrough tests to improve the detection of COVID-19 and to advance the early detection of human cancers, including head & neck cancer, using simple, non-invasive saliva liquid-biopsy technology developed by Dr. Shi-Long Lu and colleagues at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. Head & neck cancer has been scientifically overlooked, yet is medically important. Summit Biolabs’ research foundation and competency in head & neck cancer diagnosis enabled the company’s pivot to saliva-based testing for coronavirus, COVID-19.

“We are excited to collaborate with CCPM to develop and commercialize Summit Biolabs’ portfolio of developmental saliva or non-blood liquid-biopsy tests.” said Bob Blomquist, Chief Executive Officer at Summit Biolabs. “This collaboration broadens and strengthens Summit Biolabs’ ability to bring to market life-changing saliva liquid-biopsy tests that ultimately enable better treatment and improved outcomes for patients.”

About Summit Biolabs

Summit Biolabs is harnessing the power of saliva-based diagnostics to address critical challenges in COVID-19 and head & neck cancer testing. Founded on the discoveries of Dr. Shi-Long Lu, Associate Professor of Otolaryngology, Summit Biolabs is being spun out from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.

Summit Biolabs is pioneering early detection of head & neck cancer recurrence using a first of its kind saliva liquid-biopsy test, HNKlear. HNKlear is a proprietary, non-invasive saliva test that provides more effective, more accurate, and earlier detection of head and neck cancer recurrence than traditional diagnostic methods. Summit Biolabs is leveraging its core competencies in saliva-based molecular diagnostics and viral nucleic acid testing (i.e., oral oncogenic human papillomavirus detection) to diagnose COVID-19. Along with our clinical and laboratory partners, Summit Biolabs is developing the first comprehensive panel of highly-accurate saliva-based tests for COVID-19 infection, quantitation, and immune response. Summit Biolabs is headquartered in Aurora, Colorado.

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Breast cancer survivor urges women to get regular screenings and mammograms, thanks local non-profit ‘The Rose’

The first time Ediana Quijada found a lump in her breast, she was laughed off and told “it was happening because of her period and nothing to worry about.”

It was far from nothing. After a six-year battle with metastatic breast cancer, the cheerful Houston native is happy to share her story with other young women, advising regular breast exams, early detection having made a key difference in many cases.

In the fall of 2012, 29-year-old Ediana was finishing her construction management internship at the University of Houston.

The internship did not offer health insurance but UH hosts free mammography screenings in October in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month. However, when she told the nurses about her lump, they assured her, with a cursory glance, that she was too young to worry about cancer. She was sent away without a mammogram.

Reassured and a little abashed about being paranoid, she busied herself with assignments as the stresses of the semester took over. The second of four siblings (two sisters, one little brother), Ediana said she had no reason to suspect the worst because there was no history of cancer in her family.

But the lump wouldn’t stay quiet.


“I started feeling that the little lump was getting bigger and bigger,” Ediana said. “I could measure it; it was an inch now. Or is it in my head? Then I would calculate, my period must be coming, that’s why the lump’s getting big … and my breast is turning pink.”

A visit with her mother’s doctor in December confirmed the devastating news — a large mass in her breast. Could be a tumor. Clearly, the cancer had made good use of the two-month delay.

“I didn’t have insurance, so my mother took me to a walk-in clinic,” Eidana said. “The doctor said, ‘oh my God, why didn’t you come before?’”

A few hours and one $100-ultrasound later, she was advised to do a biopsy.

“The biopsy cost over $2,000, I thought ‘I can’t do that right now,’ and he (the doctor) referred me to The Rose,” Ediana said.

That first encounter with The Rose marked the beginning of Ediana’s long, painful but ultimately successful battle with breast cancer. A Houston-based nonprofit group, The Rose provides breast cancer screenings and treatment regardless of patients’ ability to pay. They began Ediana’s treatment by conducting another ultrasound, this one costing only $10.

A little monster inside your breast.

Ediana was paired with a patient navigator who helped her through the system and set up her appointments.

“It turns out I was Stage 3, Type C, which is borderline Stage 4,” said Ediana. “Very aggressive and very bad. They said, ‘it looks like you have a little monster inside’.”

Given the tumor’s massive size, treatment had to begin immediately. When three painful rounds of chemo (each lasting around eight months), one round of radiation and one surgery failed to eliminate the cancer, her doctors put Ediana on an–at the time–experimental drug called T-DM1.

“This

Porter dentist offers free oral cancer screenings for firefighters

As a thank you to local first responders, Porter Family Dentistry is offering free oral cancer screenings to firefighters in Montgomery County for the next several weeks.

The screenings will be held on Fridays when the office is usually closed so that firefighters don’t have to wait.

In 2016, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health published a multi-year study of cancer rates in firefighters, and the findings showed that firefighters had a higher number of cancer diagnoses and cancer-related deaths than the general U.S. population. Among the cancers found in the sample of nearly 30,000 firefighters, those most often found were digestive, oral, respiratory, and urinary cancers.

In recent months, firefighters across the country have been traveling to areas, like California, that their help is needed. Dr. Mustafa Yamani of Porter Family Dentistry went to school in California and has fond memories of the nature and beauty of the state.

“It’s such a beautiful place, it’s really sad reading all of the stuff in the news that’s going on there,” Yamani said. “From all around the country they (the firefighters) come together and they provide this service. It’s just amazing what they’re doing and I really appreciate that. I just want to do something for them.”


The generous act of the firefighters inspired him to give back, and since oral cancer screenings are a service his office already offers he decided to give them to firefighters for free.

While this is the first year that the dental office has offered free screenings, Yamani and his wife Sabrina, who is the office manager, plan on making it an annual thing. The trials of 2020 also helped them decide to give back.

“Things seem to be going from bad to worse, to even worse, and it just doesn’t seem to be stopping for our first responders,” Sabrina said. “They’re just being hit with things one after the other.”

Sabrina started by reaching out to fire departments in the east past of Montgomery County to let them know about the opportunity and the response was immediate and positive. Already, the dental office has screenings set up with local firefighters.

Because firefighters are at a higher risk of developing cancer, many departments take an aggressive approach to screenings and check-ups. Early detection is vital. Such is the approach of the East Montgomery County Fire Department where firefighters undergo a National Fire Protection Agency physicals annually.

“It’s huge to us,” Eran Denzler, captain and PIO with the department, said of being able to get the oral screenings for free. “It’s a great show of appreciation for what we do and the risks that we take. Every day we go and put our lives on the line for the community, and for them to give back and worry about our safety is something we’re not used to but it’s much appreciated.”

The department averages around one to two structure fires a week,

MD Anderson’s hurricane checklist for breast cancer patients

Many Houston-area residents experienced at preparing for hurricane season have likely already stocked their home with basic supplies such as extra batteries, a first-aid kit, rain gear and a 7-day supply of non-perishable food and water among other essentials needed to weather a severe storm and its aftermath. But breast cancer patients should be aware to also have additional supplies on hand, especially as Texas continues to face new challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic, making it more important than ever to plan ahead.



a person riding a wave on a surfboard in the water: In this file image, a GOES-16 GeoColor satellite image taken Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020, and provided by NOAA, shows Tropical Storm Beta, center, in the Gulf of Mexico. A hurricane watch is in effect Saturday for coastal Texas as Tropical Storm Beta gains strength. A storm surge watch and a tropical storm watch are also in effect for the area during an exceptionally busy Atlantic hurricane season. (NOAA via AP)


© Associated Press

In this file image, a GOES-16 GeoColor satellite image taken Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020, and provided by NOAA, shows Tropical Storm Beta, center, in the Gulf of Mexico. A hurricane watch is in effect Saturday for coastal Texas as Tropical Storm Beta gains strength. A storm surge watch and a tropical storm watch are also in effect for the area during an exceptionally busy Atlantic hurricane season. (NOAA via AP)


“Cancer patients are often at greater risk of contracting an infection. So, try to get everything you need early on, to avoid the last-minute crowds in stores,” Marian Von-Maszewski, M.D., associate medical director of Critical Care at MD Anderson said. “It’s almost impossible to maintain adequate social distancing in those situations. And that could prove to be more dangerous than the storm itself.”

Von-Maszewski shared recommended hurricane preparation measures for cancer patients in a recent article published by the MD Anderson Communication Department. First off, breast cancer patients are advised to include an adequate supply of face masks, gloves and hand sanitizer.

“Evacuation could pose a risk,” Von-Maszewski said. “Face masks will be especially important if patients have to stay in crowded shelters.”

Flood water and other standing water are also a potential source of infection and breast cancer patients are advised to add mosquito spray to guard against insect bites, and antibiotic cream and bandages to cover any open wounds to their hurricane supplies.

Plan ahead for a hurricane during the COVID-19 pandemic

Plan ahead and be sure to maintain at least a two-week supply of any current medications. Make a list of all your current medications and their dosages, and talk to your doctor about what to do if you have to miss a dose or treatment. In addition, prepare a dedicated cooler with ice packs or frozen water bottles for medications that need to be kept refrigerated. Research the location of the nearest emergency room and how to get there. Call your insurance company in advance to be sure which ones are covered by your policy. Remember to keep your car’s gas tank full, too, in case you need to seek medical attention or quickly evacuate.

Organize your medical information in one place

It’s possible you won’t immediately be able

Finding breast cancer early through screening major tool for beating disease

Breast cancer is the second most common cancer diagnosis in the United States. Dr. Srinath Sundararajan, an oncologist and hematologist with Texas Oncology-Katy, says early detection saves lives and that screening is important, even during the pandemic.

“Delaying cancer screenings will lead to detecting cancer at a later stage, and definitely that leads to more aggressive disease, more lengthy treatment and an increased healthcare cost,” Sundararajan said. “Cancer when identified early, there is a better chance of it being a curable cancer and better chance of having less intensive treatment. Screening cancer and finding it early is the single most effective way of improving cancer survival rates.”

He explained that since the 1980s, advances in breast cancer treatments have improved mortality rates, but screening has played a major role because it allows patients to seek treatment earlier in the disease.


While Sundararajan said mammograms are the main breast cancer detection tool, women talking with their health care providers about how to do a proper self-breast exam can enhance their breast health awareness and act as another tool. He said they should look for unusual changes in their breasts, including lumps, changes in the contour of the nipple, skin color changes, puckering of the skin or a new nipple discharge that occurs without apparent reason. Women should seek immediate medical attention with their health care provider if any of these symptoms occur.

While the age that a woman should get her first mammogram depends on several factors such as family history, Sundararajan explained that a woman with average risk should have a discussion with her doctor when she is between 40 and 50 years old. He said the frequency for mammograms will vary based on the results of that first one. Women should certainly have mammograms from age 50 to age 75, Sundararajan said.

The pandemic has had a large impact on cancer. A study showed that diagnoses of breast, cervical and colon cancer were down about 90 percent at one point. Sundararajan said the numbers have improved but are still down overall by about 30 percent since before COVID-19.

“It doesn’t mean that cancer was not happening or that new cancer was not occurring during those times,” he said. “Those are all missed diagnoses, which would probably impact them later in the future. Once they’re diagnosed, they might be at a later stage.”

Sundararajan explained that 90 to 95 percent of patients whose breast cancer is detected early respond well to treatment and are still living five years later. Those survival rates decrease when the cancer is found later.

Sundararajan emphasized that it is safe to go out for cancer screenings. He said clinics, diagnostic offices and doctors’ offices are taking precautions so that people do not catch or spread the novel coronavirus. Many medical facilities require masks and temperature checks to enter and are

Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute Opens New Location In Lake Worth

FCS Chief Marketing & Sales Officer Shelly Glenn; Medical Assistant Lucille Johnson; Medical Oncologist/Hematologist Shaachi Gupta, MD, MPH; FCS Chief Executive Officer Nathan Walcker; Medical Oncologist/Hematologist Napoleon Santos, DO; Office Manager Anna Gallardo; Medical Oncologist/Hematologist Howard M. Goodman, MD; Regional Director Laura Greene; Medical Oncologist/Hematologist Shachar Peles, MD; Medical Assistant Ashlee Owens; Michele Innocent, APRN; Medical Assistant Paola Council; Medical Oncologist/Hematologist Elizabeth Byron, MD; Kelsey Hagan, PA-C; Regional Physician Liaison Manager Rebecca Appelbaum
FCS Chief Marketing & Sales Officer Shelly Glenn; Medical Assistant Lucille Johnson; Medical Oncologist/Hematologist Shaachi Gupta, MD, MPH; FCS Chief Executive Officer Nathan Walcker; Medical Oncologist/Hematologist Napoleon Santos, DO; Office Manager Anna Gallardo; Medical Oncologist/Hematologist Howard M. Goodman, MD; Regional Director Laura Greene; Medical Oncologist/Hematologist Shachar Peles, MD; Medical Assistant Ashlee Owens; Michele Innocent, APRN; Medical Assistant Paola Council; Medical Oncologist/Hematologist Elizabeth Byron, MD; Kelsey Hagan, PA-C; Regional Physician Liaison Manager Rebecca Appelbaum
FCS Chief Marketing & Sales Officer Shelly Glenn; Medical Assistant Lucille Johnson; Medical Oncologist/Hematologist Shaachi Gupta, MD, MPH; FCS Chief Executive Officer Nathan Walcker; Medical Oncologist/Hematologist Napoleon Santos, DO; Office Manager Anna Gallardo; Medical Oncologist/Hematologist Howard M. Goodman, MD; Regional Director Laura Greene; Medical Oncologist/Hematologist Shachar Peles, MD; Medical Assistant Ashlee Owens; Michele Innocent, APRN; Medical Assistant Paola Council; Medical Oncologist/Hematologist Elizabeth Byron, MD; Kelsey Hagan, PA-C; Regional Physician Liaison Manager Rebecca Appelbaum
Chief Executive Officer Nathan Walcker; President & Managing Physician Lucio Gordan, MD, Medical Oncologist Shachar Peles, MD
Chief Executive Officer Nathan Walcker; President & Managing Physician Lucio Gordan, MD, Medical Oncologist Shachar Peles, MD
Chief Executive Officer Nathan Walcker; President & Managing Physician Lucio Gordan, MD, Medical Oncologist Shachar Peles, MD

Fort Myers, Fla., Oct. 13, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Fort Myers, Fla., Oct. 12, 2020 — Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute (FCS) opened a new facility at 4801 South Congress Ave., Lake Worth, FL 33461 to provide comprehensive treatments and a variety of services to adults with cancer and other diseases. The new location replaces the previous FCS clinic at 5507 South Congress Ave., Suite 130, Atlantis, FL 33462.

The clinic is an expansion of space that includes more than 9,000 square feet, nine private exam rooms and 22 chemotherapy infusion chairs. Patients have access to all existing services and providers, in a comfortable, spacious setting.

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to provide patients who live in and around Palm Beach County with convenient access to the most advanced treatments close to home,” said FCS CEO Nathan H. Walcker.

“Our new location offers the most advanced treatments for cancer, blood disorders and other diseases in an individualized and compassionate manner,” said FCS President & Managing Physician Dr. Lucio Gordan.

FCS Medical Oncologist Dr. Shachar Peles said, “My colleagues and I are excited to be able to care for our patients in this new facility. It’s a privilege to provide cutting-edge cancer treatments in the comfort of our patients’ local community.”

Four Board-certified medical oncologists Drs. Elizabeth Byron, Shaachi Gupta, Shachar Peles, Napoleon Santos and Board-certified gynecologic oncologist Dr. Howard Goodman, are joined by a team of cancer experts and support staff to provide care in the new Lake Worth office.

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About Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute, LLC: (FLCancer.com)

Recognized by the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) with a national Clinical Trials Participation Award, Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute (FCS) offers patients access to more clinical trials than any private oncology practice in Florida. Over the past 5 years, the majority of new cancer drugs approved for use in the U.S. were

Cancer takes heavy toll on women’s work, finances, study shows

Young women with cancer are at a high risk for employment and financial consequences, a new study finds.

“Our study addresses the burden of employment disruption and financial hardship among young women with cancer — a group who may be at particular risk for poor financial outcomes after cancer given their age and gender,” said researcher Clare Meernik, a fellow at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

She and her colleagues surveyed more than 1,300 women in North Carolina and California a median of seven years after diagnosis. Their cancer was diagnosed when they were 15 to 39 years of age and working.

Following their diagnosis, 32% of the women had to stop working or cut back on their hours. Twenty-seven percent said they had to borrow money, go into debt or file for bankruptcy because of cancer treatment.

Women with disrupted employment were more likely — by 17 percentage points — to have these problems than women who were able to keep working.

Half of the women said they were stressed about their big medical bills, and women with disrupted employment were more likely to suffer psychological distress by 8 percentage points than women who were able to keep working.

The findings were published online Oct. 12 in the journal Cancer.

“Our findings highlight the need for effective interventions to promote job maintenance and transition back to the workforce after cancer treatment, as well as increased workplace accommodations and benefits, to improve cancer outcomes for young women,” Meernik said in a journal news release.

More information

To learn more about work and financial effects of cancer, visit the American Cancer Society.

Copyright 2020 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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Study: Medicines, frequent counseling helps cancer patients quit smoking

Oct. 13 (UPI) — A program that included telephone counseling sessions and one of two smoking cessation drugs was 50% more effective than telephone consultations alone at helping cancer patients quit smoking, a study published Tuesday by JAMA found.

Among cancer patients who underwent treatment with four bi-weekly and three monthly counseling sessions by telephone and either bupropion, marketed as Wellbutrin, or varenicline, marketed as Chantix, for up to six months, 35% were able to successfully quit smoking, the data showed.

But only 22% of the cancer patients who underwent treatment with the telephone counseling sessions had successfully quit after six months, according to the researchers.

“Counseling plus medication is the state-of-the art tobacco treatment for cancer patients,” study co-author Elyse R. Park told UPI.

“Smoking cessation assistance should be an integral part of cancer care and sustained tobacco support can be effective for cancer patients who smoke,” said Park, an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.

More than 34 million adults in the United States smoke, and some 16 million are living with smoking-related diseases, including cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Up to 20% of cancer survivors continue to smoke, despite the fact that quitting improves prognosis with the disease, research suggests.

For their study, Park and her colleagues evaluated smoking cessation treatment programs in 303 adults recently diagnosed with breast, gastrointestinal, genitourinary, gynecological, head and neck, lung, lymphoma or melanoma cancers.

Roughly half — 153 — underwent “intensive” treatment for smoking, with telephone counseling and their choice of bupropion or varenicline, with the rest receiving “standard” care, with telephone counseling only, for up to six months, the researchers said.

Both bupropion and varenicline have been approved for smoking cessation treatment by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The most common adverse events in the two treatment groups were nausea, rash, hiccups, mouth irritation, difficulty sleeping and vivid dreams, and all were more common in the patients who received “intensive” care, the researchers said.

“Nausea is a side effect of varenicline, so [its use] should be monitored for patients who are experiencing nausea from their cancer treatment,” Park said.

In addition, patients on tamoxifen for breast cancer should not take bupropion, or receive a reduced dose, because of interactions between the two drugs, she said.

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The Wanted’s Tom Parker diagnosed with ‘terminal’ brain cancer

Parker has been diagnosed with stage four glioblastoma.

Tom Parker of The Wanted is facing a devastating medical diagnosis.

Parker, who was part of the British-Irish boy band most popular for its song “Glad You Came,” shared on Instagram that he’s been diagnosed with a brain tumor and has begun treatment.

In an interview with OK! magazine, Parker clarified that the disease is stage four glioblastoma.

“We are all absolutely devastated but we are gonna fight this all the way. We don’t want your sadness, we just want love and positivity and together we will raise awareness of this terrible disease and look for all available treatment options,” he wrote in an Instagram caption. “It’s gonna be a tough battle but with everyone’s love and support we are going to beat this.”

Parker, 32, told OK! that he’d been suffering seizures and was shocked to learn of his diagnosis. Glioblastoma is rare and experts have said that it is among the deadliest type of brain cancers. It affects an estimated 13,000 people in the United States every year and there is no cure. Senators John McCain and Ted Kennedy were both diagnosed with and ultimately died from the disease.

“They’ve said it’s terminal,” Parker said of his prognosis. “It was a lot to deal with by myself. I still haven’t processed it.”

The singer said that he will undergo radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatment as he and his wife Kelsey await the birth of their second child. They are parents to a 15-month-old daughter.

“I don’t think Tom will ever process this information. It’s horrendous,” his wife told OK!. “Watching your partner go through this is so hard, because how can I tell him not to let it consume him?”

ABC News’ Hayley FitzPatrick contributed to this report.

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Balstilimab, Zalifrelimab Active in Advanced Cervical Cancer

Checkpoint blockade with the PD-1 inhibitor balstilimab, alone or in combination with the anti-CTLA-4 drug zalifrelimab, showed activity in women with recurrent or metastatic cervical cancer, preliminary results from two phase II trials indicated.

In patients treated with balstilimab alone, the overall response rate (ORR) was 14%, including complete responses in 2%, reported David O’Malley, MD, of the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center in Columbus.

And in those who received both investigational agents — balstilimab plus zalifrelimab — the ORR increased to 22%, including complete responses in 6%.

“What is really interesting about the combination arm is that while we did see a median duration of response in the single-agent [arm] that was a very impressive 15 months, the duration of response has not been reached in the combination arm,” O’Malley told MedPage Today.

He said that the tripling of the complete response rate as well as the better duration of response suggest that combination immunotherapy may be “the future of cervical cancer treatment.”

Each of the studies involved women with recurrent or metastatic cervical cancer from cancer centers across the U.S. and Europe who previously received platinum-based chemotherapy as first-line treatment.

“These are the two largest trials of immunotherapy in recurrent metastatic cervical cancer that have been reported thus far,” he said.

In the single agent trial, 160 women were given balstilimab at 3 mg/kg every 2 weeks, while in the second trial balstilimab was evaluated in 155 women at the same dosage in combination with zalifrelimab at a dose of 1 mg/kg every 6 weeks. Findings from the trials were recently presented by O’Malley at the 2020 European Society for Medical Oncology virtual congress.

O’Malley emphasized that in both trials there were responders who were PD-L1 negative. In the single agent trial the ORRs were 19% for those with PD-L1-positive disease and 10% for those with PD-L1-negative disease, while in the combination trial those rates were 27% and 11%, respectively.

Furthermore, O’Malley noted, when broken down by histology, the ORR was higher in patients with squamous cell carcinoma who received the combination therapy (27% vs 18% with balstilimab alone), while the ORRs were higher with single-agent balstilimab for patients with adenocarcinoma, adenosquamous, or other histology (8% vs 5% with the combination).

Histology may be a main predictor of response rather than PD-L1 status, O’Malley suggested.

“We reported similar response rates in our squamous cell carcinoma patients as we saw in the PD-L1-positive patients,” he said. “But when we looked at the adenocarcinoma and adenosquamous patients, we saw the rates were similar to PD-L1-negative patients. This calls into question whether the better predictor of response is histology rather than PD-L1 status, and that may be something to look at in the future.”

Regarding a comparison of balstilimab with pembrolizumab (Keytruda), O’Malley pointed out that pembrolizumab has only been approved for women with recurrent or metastatic cervical cancer with disease progression on or after chemotherapy whose tumors express PD-L1.

“We know that these drugs are more similar than they