At a time when the only news about cancer seems to be bad news, I thought I'd close out the week with some good news on cancer. Rather, good news about the fight against cancer.
While most of us were still focusing on the struggles of Elizabeth Edwards and Tony Snow - a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel was voting to approve "the first therapy that would direct a cancer patient's own immune system to attack tumors," according to today's NYTimes. The vaccine treats metastatic prostate cancer, and is the first in a new class of drugs called "therapeutic vaccines" to make it this far in the regulatory process.
If the drug, made by the Seattle-based Dendreon Corporation and called "Provenge," is approved by the full FDA, it could clear the way for for other cancer vaccines in the pipeline, "opening a whole line of commercial products for biotech companies," according to The SFChronicle today (with the key word being commercial).
Because there have been so many failures in the search for cancer vaccines, biotech companies have been cautious about putting too much money into this area. However, the approval of Provenge could turn things around in the whole fight against cancer. Read and see more on this story at CBSNews.com.
It may already be happening, as news broke this week of a $640 million dollar deal between two European pharmas to develop a cancer vaccine called "Trovax," which boosts the patient's immune system to kill cancer cells, according to Reuters. Trovax is one of the so-called therapeutic vaccines which "represent a new approach in fighting cancer."
In even more positive news about cancer, GlaxoSmithKline "has filed a long-awaited marketing application for its cervical cancer vaccine candidate, Cervarix," with the FDA, according to The Washington Business Journal. This comes on the heals of the FDA's March 13th approval of GSK's new treatment for advanced metastatic breast cancer, called "Tykerb," which you can read about either on the GSK site, or at TopCancerNews.com.
News like this helps drive home the point I was making in my Living and Campaigning with Cancer blog I wrote on the day Elizabeth Edwards made her emotional announcement regarding her recurrent cancer. Cancer is not necessarily a death knell diagnosis. An increasing number of people are living with cancer, thanks to new treatments which hopefully, the drug companies will begin pursuing with a vengeance.
But we need to stay on their tails, and push Congress to continue funding, as Sheryl Crow did this week on her trip to Capital Hill (read more on ABCNews.com). As Lance Armstrong writes in his blog on LiveStrong.org, "next week both Democratic and Republican Presidential hopefuls will meet in New Hampshire for the first televised Presidential debate of the campaign. Hopefully the candidates do not need any more reminders to start talking about this issue."
They won't forget - not if we won't let them.
Have a good weekend.
Well It’s a pretty good day.
I’m lookin’ forward to tomorrow
To have a pretty good day.