News in brief: Cheap Chinese checkpoint inhibitors; Novel agent for DIPG; Value in CBT to cut fear of cancer recurrence 

Thursday, 22 Apr 2021

Made in China ICIs to shake up oncology market

Cheap immune checkpoint inhibitors  from China are set to revolutionise the immune-oncology market globally by driving down prices, according to analytics company GlobalData.

A new generation of Chinese domestic checkpoint inhibitor products such as the anti–PD-1 agents tislelizumab and camrelizumab are 75% less expensive than international brands and are now being approved for multiple oncology indications in China and internationally, a report from the company has found.

And while the products were unlikely to be adopted in western countries such as the US, the launch of heavily discounted checkpoint inhibitors from China into international markets would likely create pricing pressure on established oncology drug brands, said Adam Pearson, Senior Oncology Analyst at GlobalData.

Australian oncologists work on novel drug for DIPG

A novel treatment that acts on the ‘master switch’ for diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG) is being investigated by oncologists at the Children’s Cancer Institute in NSW .

CBL0137, developed from the antimalarial drug quinacrine, has been shown to reverse the effects of the key genetic drivers in DIPG, and has a profound effect against DIPG tumour models.

Led by Associate Professor David Ziegler, an oncologist at the Sydney Children’s Hospital, the team also showed that CBL0137 worked synergistically when combined with a histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor, panobinostat.

Based on the effects seen with the drug in neuroblastoma, the researchers confirmed that CBL0137 interfered with the growth of DIPG tumours by inhibiting a molecule known as FACT, needed for DNA transcription, replication and repair. They said FACT binds with the key genetic driver in DIPG – a mutation called K27M. By treating DIPG cells with CBL0137 they were able to target this gene and stop tumour cells from growing.

“Over the years, many different types of treatments have been tried for DIPG, but none so far have proven effective in clinical trials of children with the disease,” said Associate Professor Ziegler.

“K27M is the Achilles heel of DIPG tumour cells. The finding that CBL0137 indirectly acts against this genetic driver is very exciting, and gives us great hope for this treatment strategy.”

The findings are published in Cell Reports.

Value in CBT to cut fear of cancer recurrence

Treatment for persistent and high level fear of cancer recurrence (FCR) should be encouraged to reduce the burden on individuals, but also on the healthcare system, Australian researchers say.

Their systematic review showed that cancer survivors who had a fear of recurrence sought additional consultations with primary and secondary care providers, and had more outpatient and emergency room visits.

The review also found some evidence that FCR may be treated cost‐effectively with interventions such as CBT.

“ICERs ranged from AU$3,233 to AU$152,050 per QALY gained, ‐AU$196,942 to AU$82 per unit of FCR reduced and AU$16,895 per case of high FCR avoided.”

“At the commonly used willingness to pay threshold of AU$50,000 per QALY gained blended and contemporary (i.e. ConquerFear) CBT are likely to be cost‐effective, but the blended psychoeducational intervention is not.”

The Australian authors said more high‐quality research was needed to ensure the future implementation of efficient and sustainable FCR treatments.



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