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Weekly News Round Up - November 16, 2011

Investigational “Epigenetic" Therapy: Enhanced Survival in Lung Cancer

Study treatments for solid tumors, including lung cancer, may reverse abnormalities and lengthen survival Read More...

A novel treatment regimen called “epigenetic” therapy has shown benefit to a small subset of advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients. Epigenetic therapy involves targeting proteins that encircle DNA, which control gene expression. Unlike genetic mutations, epigenetic defects can be reversed. Azacitidine and entinostat were combined for treatment in a group of 45 metastatic NSCLC patients who had failed other therapies. Patients lived an average of 6.4 months, roughly two months longer than expected, and two patients survived at least three years. Researchers emphasize results are preliminary, but further research into epigenetic therapy is warranted.

New Cholesterol Guidelines Target 9 to 11 Year Olds

One in three American kids now overweight or obese; new guidelines recommend cholesterol screening Read More...

The obesity epidemic is taking its toll on children: one out of three American kids now fall into the overweight or obese category. New guidelines endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics now recommend cholesterol screening for all children and young adults ages 9 to 11 and 17 to 21. Previous pediatric guidelines recommended cholesterol screening only if a family history of heart disease. In those children with high cholesterol, lifestyle changes such as such as a healthier, low-fat diet and regular exercise would usually be recommended. Less than one percent of children would need cholesterol-lowering medications such as statins.

Xarelto Significantly Reduces Risk of Cardiovascular Death in Acute Coronary Syndrome

Factor Xa inhibitor Xarelto (rivaroxaban) demonstrates a survival benefit in Acute Coronary Syndrome Read More...

A study published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine compared Xarelto to placebo in roughly 15,000 hospitalized acute coronary syndrome (ACS) patients. Patients received 2.5 or 5 mg orally twice daily, or placebo, in conjunction with standard care over 13 months. Xarelto at either dose lowered the risk of heart attack, stroke or death by 16 percent compared to placebo. However, the 2.5 mg regimen reduced the relative risk of cardiovascular death and death by any cause by 34 and 32 percent, respectively, a survival benefit not seen with the 5-mg dose. The risk of bleeding was increased with Xarelto, as expected, but there was no significant increase in fatal bleeding. Bleeding appeared to be a dose-related adverse effect.

Crestor or Lipitor? Study Examines High-Dose Therapy

SATURN study provides direction for appropriate high-dose statin use in secondary prevention Read More

High dose, 80 mg Zocor (simvastatin) is not recommended for use in new patients due to possible myopathy, characterized by unexplained muscle weakness or pain. In the SATURN study, high dose, once daily 40 mg Crestor (rosuvastatin) was compared to 80 mg Lipitor (atorvastatin) in 1,385 patients over 104 weeks. Coronary artery plaque fell 0.99 percent with Lipitor and 1.22 percent with Crestor. The two drugs were statistically equal in reducing plaque build-up, and were found to be safe, with no reports of rhabdomyolysis, a severe form of myopathy. Lipitor, with 2010 sales of $5.8 billion, is set to go generic at the end of November 2011. Crestor's generic debut is not until 2016.

First Drug Approved To Treat Rare Myelofibrosis Disease

Jakafi (ruxolitinib) FDA-approved as an orphan drug for rare bone marrow disease Read More...

Jakafi (ruxolitinib) has been approved as an orphan drug for the less than 200,000 patients in the U.S. that are afflicted by myelofibrosis. Myelofibrosis is a rare disease in which bone marrow is replaced by scar tissue, resulting in an enlarged spleen and reduced production of white blood cells and platelets. Symptoms may include fatigue, stomach pain, night sweats, itching, and muscle and bone pain. Jakafi inhibits JAK (Janus Associate Kinase) 1 and 2 enzymes, enzymes that regulate blood and immunologic function. Clinical trials with Jakafi reported a 35 percent reduction in spleen size and a 50 percent reduction in symptoms compared to placebo.