News in brief: Novel treatment shows promise in myelofibrosis; Comprehensive cancer centre for Queensland; Medical cannabis can’t be recommended in palliative care

Thursday, 16 Jun 2022

Novel treatment shows promise in myelofibrosis and anaemia

The oral JAK1/2 and ACVR1/ALK2 inhibitor momelotinib has shown promise in the treatment of myelofibrosis, especially for patients with anaemia, according to findings presented at ASCO 2022.

Results from the MOMENTUM phase 3 study showed that momelotinib was superior to was superior to danazol for symptom responses, transfusion requirements, and spleen responses in symptomatic and anaemic patients with myelofibrosis previously treated with standard-of-care JAK inhibitor therapy.

The randomised trial that enrolled 130 patients showed that after 24 weeks of treatment, patients in the momelotinib group had a significantly greater Myelofibrosis Symptom Assessment Form Total Symptom Score response rate (24.6% vs 9.2%; P =.0095).

The spleen response rates at week 24 were 40.0% and 6.2% in the momelotinib and danazol arms, respectively (P < .0001).

Momelotinib-treated patients also showed comparbable safety the danazol group, with similar rates of grade 3 or higher infections. There was a trend toward improved overall survival up to week 24 in the momelotinib group compared with the danazol arm (HR 0.506; P = .0719).

“Momelotinib may address a critical unmet need, particularly in myelofibrosis patients with anaemia, concluded the study investigators, led by Dr Ruben Mesa of the UT Health San Antonio MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Comprehensive cancer centre for Queensland

Queensland will have its own comprehensive cancer centre before the end of the decade, with the state government promising to build a facility on par with those in Victoria and NSW.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says concept design has already been completed on the $750 million Queensland Cancer Centre, to be built within the Herston Health Precinct at Brisbane’s Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital.

The facility will have 150 beds, 26 consulting rooms, 37 chemotherapy chairs and four operating theatres, plus pathology services and a pharmacy.

It will also include a full range of research, education and training facilities which will support continued and strengthened partnerships with the University of Queensland, Queensland University of Technology and QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute.

Construction is set to begin in 2024 and take about four years, Ms Palaszczuk said in a statement.

It follows a commitment by the Coalition ahead of last month’s federal election to provide partial funding for a national network of comprehensive facilities, based on Melbourne’s Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and the Chris O’Brien Lifehouse in Sydney.

With Labor coming to power federally, details of the plan are currently up in the air.

Medical cannabis can’t be recommended in palliative care

The quality of evidence on cannabis in palliative care is low and remains too weak to provide any recommendations on its use in clinical practice, New Zealand researchers say.

Their verdict follows a review of 52 studies on the use of medical cannabis in end-of-life care which found the quality of evidence was ‘very low’ or ‘low’ for all studies.

Scientists from the Medical Research Institute of New Zealand said the studies showed some positive effects for medical cannabis products in pain, nausea, chemosensory perception and fatigue in patients with cancer.

Positive treatment effects (statistical significance with P<0.05) were also seen for some cannabis products in patients with dementia and AIDS.

However, the findings had to be interpreted with caution due to the wide range of cannabis products used and the heterogeneity of the study outcomes, they wrote in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management.

There were also large number of adverse events reported with medical cannabis treatment and placebo groups across all the included studies, they noted.

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