The Targeted Pulse: Continued Impacts of COVID-19, AI-Powered Diagnostic Tools, and More


The Worst Effects of COVID-19 Yet to Hit the Oncology Arena

The effects of COVID-19 are a “ticking time bomb” set to make their most devastating impact on the oncology landscape, according to Michael Zinner, MD, CEO and executive medical director of Miami Cancer Institute in Florida, who describes this warning as a “slow-burning, unpredictable fuse.”

Zinner shares recent statistics that show the ramifications of the COVID-19 virus on cancer care, and he suggests areas of growth to offset the impact. These considerations include the use of artificial intelligence (AI), addressing disparities, and developing a more collaborative workspace, giving the field of oncology beneficial tactics for success despite the challenge.

Why Sacituzumab Govitecan Completely Missed Its Mark for NSCLC

When compared with docetaxel, sacituzumab govitecan-hziy (Trodelvy) missed the mark, according to findings in the EVOKE-01 study (NCT05089734), making this a valuable lesson to draw from going forward. Although there were no new safety signals observed and the investigation drug was well tolerated, new options are needed for patients with NSCLC.

Treatment for metastatic non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) that has progressed on or after platinum-based chemotherapy proves a significant challenge, Merdad Parsey, MD, PhD, chief medical officer, Gilead Sciences explained, making the need for effective treatment urgent. A review of the complete data with regulators is anticipated.

TTFields’ Premarket Approval Instills High Hopes for NSCLC

The awaited FDA regulatory decision for tumor treating fields (TTFields) plus standard systemic therapies in the treatment of NSCLC is expected in the latter half of 2024. With the premarket approval accepted, the application is currently under review, and, with its approval, could provide much needed non-toxic options in the post-platinum setting for patients with NSCLC.

Data from the phase 3 LUNAR study (NCT02973789) is the basis for the application, demonstrating improved median overall survival for those receiving the TTFields plus standard of care (SOC) vs SOC alone, with no additional systemic toxicities observed.

A New AI-Powered Skin Cancer Diagnostic Tool Already Saving Lives

The wireless handheld device, known as DermaSensor, uses noninvasive, AI-powered spectroscopy technology at point of testing to detect cellular and subcellular characteristics of lesions found in melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma. It also boasts a 96% percent sensitivity and is already decreasing the number of skin cancers missed by half.

“Achieving this medical milestone is a testament to the 12 years and tens of millions of dollars our company has invested in research and development to bring this powerful technology to market,” said Maurice Ferre, MD, co-founder and chairman of DermaSensor. Cody Simmons, co-founder and CEO of DermaSensor, also commented that the convergence of novel types of technology like spectroscopy or genetic sequencing with AI introduces a golden age of enhanced disease detection and care.

Pembrolizumab Scores Another Win in High-Risk Cervical Cancer

Pembrolizumab (Keytruda) in combination with concurrent chemoradiotherapy and external beam radiotherapy gained FDA approval for the treatment of newly diagnosed, high-risk, locally advanced cervical cancer. The approval is based on the randomized KEYNOTE-A18 trial (NCT04221945), which evaluated the safety and efficacy of the treatment combination.

Bradley J. Monk, MD, FACS, FACOG, gynecologic oncologist with Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute, told Targeted OncologyTM that “…at 2 years and with most of the patients still on treatment, we were able to reduce the risk of recurrence or death by more than 10%.”

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