NEWS - JUNE 2014

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Quest Diagnostics Partner to Advance Precision Medicine in Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment

PR Newswire June 1st, 2014

 

NEW YORK and MADISON, N.J., June 1, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, the world's oldest and largest private cancer center, and Quest Diagnostics (DGX), the world's leading provider of diagnostic information services, today announced a joint collaboration that will utilize MSK's clinical and research insights into gene mutations associated with solid tumors. The goal is to use molecular laboratory testing to improve physicians' ability to treat patients with breast, prostate, colon, lung, and a variety of other solid tumor cancers by giving them a better understanding of the genomic underpinnings of their patients' illnesses. 

 

In recent years, research has demonstrated that certain gene mutations influence the efficacy of cancer drug therapies, and that a therapy that is effective for one type of cancer may be effective for other types that share the same gene mutations. MSK has amassed extensive databases of gene mutations linked to various types of cancer and developed pharmaceutical treatments based on scientific literature, treatment of patients by the institution's multidisciplinary teams, and clinical trials conducted by MSK researchers and scientists.

 

In the first phase of the collaboration, MSK will provide contextual information about individual mutations identified as part of Quest's OncoVantage™, an independently validated, lab-developed test that launches today to enable molecular characterization of solid tumors. Beginning this summer, physicians who order OncoVantage will benefit from the MSK data through a co-branded clinical annotation report designed to aid the assessment of a patient's prognosis, as well as to guide treatment selection and to monitor disease progression.

 

Over time, the two organizations intend to further study and extend the mutation data sets to potentially generate improved diagnostics, in addition to research and clinical trials.

 

"This relationship will empower clinicians to improve their patients' health by identifying the best therapies for patients today and by identifying specific patients who may benefit from participation in clinical trials. The needs of tomorrow's patients will be addressed by the deeper knowledge base we are building and its potential to drive the basic science needed to discover new therapies," said Craig B. Thompson, MD, MSK's President and CEO. "This collaboration with Quest speaks to our mission and extends our ability to improve the quality of care for patients everywhere."

 

"We are excited to offer oncologists and patients everywhere unprecedented access to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center's exceptional knowledge of the role of gene mutations in solid tumors and the therapies most effective in treating them," said Steve H. Rusckowski, President and CEO of Quest Diagnostics. "By combining our broad market reach, which covers half the practicing physicians and hospitals in the United States, with MSK's deep experience in cancer care and molecular science, we hope to illuminate the best possible cancer treatment options for patients across the country."

 

Extending Molecular Laboratory Testing of Solid Tumors across the United States

 

Quest's OncoVantage test is performed on tumor biopsies and uses next-generation sequencing technology to assess the most commonly mutated exons in 34 genes. The sequencing data, in de-identified form, will be shared with MSK, which will leverage its databases to correlate specific gene mutations to potential therapies and disease progression applicable to that cancer type.

 

The second phase of the collaboration between Quest and MSK will involve development of a more far-reaching test by Quest involving potentially hundreds of genes. The expanded test is expected to launch by the spring of 2015.

MSK has amassed extensive experience in this area over the past decade and has recently developed a pioneering test — called MSK-IMPACT™, or Integrated Mutation Profiling of Actionable Cancer Targets — that can reliably and accurately screen for mutations in more than 340 genes. Tumors from MSK patients studied thus far have had on average between two and 10 potentially actionable mutations.

 

In addition, MSK's clinical annotation process will be enhanced by de-identified gene data from Quest's OncoVantage test. The data will be used to extend the range of information used to assess the clinical significance of gene alterations and potential correlations with therapeutic response. This real-time data exchange will enable rapid translation of discoveries into clinically actionable information for managing cancer patients. The two organizations also intend to jointly study, evaluate, and augment the size and scope of the mutation data sets, which have the potential to become more important in scientific research and publication.

 

"Quest has demonstrated a commitment to evidence-based use of next-generation sequencing data in cancer," added Jose Baselga MD, MSK's Physician-in-Chief. "This commitment to advancing molecular diagnostics in both a clinical and research context is central to our selection of Quest as a partner."

 

"MSK is widely recognized for its groundbreaking contributions to cancer care, treatment, and research," said Jon R. Cohen, MD, Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of Quest Diagnostics. "This collaboration is important because it is a way to extend this tremendous cancer expertise, in the form of Quest's OncoVantage, beyond patients treated at MSK's center, but potentially to any patient, anywhere in the United States, for whom solid-tumor molecular profiling could illuminate efficacious treatment."

 

Quest Diagnostics has developed several next-generation sequencing lab-developed tests that it offers nationally in areas ranging from HIV to BRCA (Breast/Ovarian) and Lynch syndrome inherited cancers.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

 

About Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center 
We are the world's oldest and largest private cancer center, home to more than 12,000 physicians, scientists, nurses, and staff united by a relentless dedication to conquering cancer. As an independent institution, we combine 130 years of research and clinical leadership with the freedom to provide highly individualized, exceptional care to each patient. And our always-evolving educational programs continue to train new leaders in the field, here and around the world. For more information, go to www.mskcc.org.

About Quest Diagnostics  
 

Quest Diagnostics is the world's leading provider of diagnostic information services that patients and doctors need to make better healthcare decisions. The company offers the broadest access to diagnostic information services through its network of laboratories and patient service centers, and provides interpretive consultation through its extensive medical and scientific staff.  Quest Diagnostics is a pioneer in developing innovative diagnostic tests and advanced healthcare information technology solutions that help improve patient care.  Additional information is available at QuestDiagnostics.com.  Follow us at Facebook.com/QuestDiagnostics and Twitter.com/QuestDX.

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Super Bowl Champion Phil Simms Roasted at St. Anthony Fundraiser

Max Tyler June 12th, 2014

 

There's a reason why the New York Giants enjoyed success throughout the 1980s. The players got along and every player was tough -- the latter a requirement for Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells.

 

Though his playing days are behind him, two-time Super Bowl champion quarterback Phil Simms' thick skin served him well when he was roasted Thursday night at Casino in the Park for a fundraiser for St. Anthony High School.

 

"I was expecting it to be an all out assault," Simms said. "If it wasn't I would've been disappointed."

 

St. Anthony is best known for its basketball program, led by Hall of Fame coach Bob Hurley, who's won 27 state titles

along with four national titles.

 

But St. Anthony has long been in need of fundraising events to help maintain school operations. What began three years ago as a small bistec dinner downtown has sprung into a main attraction.

 

Last year, Simms attended the roast in which former NBA coach PJ Carlisimo was the target. During the event, a sister from St. Anthony approached Simms and suggested that he serve as the roastee in the fundraiser the following year.

 

Simms agreed just before he was interrupted.

 

"Before I could even get the words out coach Hurley comes out of nowhere and says, 'Hey that's great, I'm glad you could do it.' ... We had a lot of fun organizing this," Simms said.

 

Last year there were roughly 175 attendees at the fundraiser, according to Hurley. This year's attendance more than doubled when 400-plus came and showed their support for St. Anthony.

 

"It's a great fundraiser for the school," Hurley said. "We think this will really ignite things for the future."

 

Hurley says that the event helps to bring people together who they may not have reached otherwise. In November, the legendary coach kicked off a fundraising campaign aimed to raise $10 million for the school by 2020.

 

Following the VIP hour, there was a silent auction held for signed sports memorabilia. Dinner began around 8 and the roasting started shortly after.

 

Simms' teammate, former offensive lineman and Super Bowl champion Brad Benson, started it off.

 

"Phil who?" he said. "Other than being a great friend, he's the perfect example of how you don't have to be a great athlete to play quarterback.

 

"You don't have to be smart or good looking to be a sports announcer either," he added.

 

Then, former Giants center Bart Oates, who won two Super Bowls with Simms, took his turn.

 

"The only difference between you and coach Hurley, other than the fact that he's a Hall of Famer and you're not, is that

he actually taught his sons how to throw the ball," he said.

 

Simms has been a supporter of St. Anthony's work both on and off the court for a number of years.

 

"I'm honored to help them raise money and do what I can," Simms said. "As the years go by, I want to be more involved and that's one of the reasons why I'm here tonight."

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Hakeem Olajuwon Named NBA Ambassador to Africa

Kevin Mwanza June 16th, 2014

 

 

Two-time NBA champion and Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon has been selected by the NBA to serve as the league’s ambassador to Africa.

 

Olajuwon who was born in Nigeria moved to the U.S. in the 1980s to play college ball for Houston and went on to play 17 seasons with the Houston Rockets. Olajuwon won two NBA titles and achieved 3,830 blocks during his career.  [See top African basket ball players here]

NBA Players United said under this new role Olajuwon will work closely with the NBA Africa office in Johannesburg, and will have a prominent role in the development of basketball across the continent.  He will represent the NBA through a series of basketball events and NBA Cares initiatives aimed at developing the game, giving back to communities in need, and drawing attention to diplomacy through sport.

 

“Basketball has given me so much in life,” said Olajuwon.  “In this new role I am looking forward to impacting young Africans and utilizing the power of sport to help change lives in what is an exciting new chapter in my career.”

“This is the advantage of sports,” Olajuwon said.  “Sports are something everybody can gather over regardless of their differences to be able to give back to the community and the youth of the future.”

- See more at: http://afkinsider.com/60620/hakeem-olajuwon-named-nba-ambassador-africa/#sthash.XI9d4JxS.dpuf

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Boomer Esiason: Football Vs. Futbol

CBS Local Sports June 19th, 2014

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Legendary NFL Quarterback Phil Simms Tackles Skin Cancer

Ruchi Shah June 29th, 2014

 

As a quarterback for the New York Giants for more than 14 years, Phil Simms knew how to take a hit. But nothing could prepare the NFL hall-of-fame player for the blow of finding out he had skin cancer.

 

“[The dermatologist] walked in the room and looked at me and goes ... ‘You're in trouble’ … right away,” Simms told FoxNews.com. “Of course, looking back I can see. She could look at me and see all the signs were there ... I have [precancerous cells] everywhere -- my chest, my legs, my hands were unbelievable.”

 

Simms admits he had never visited a dermatologist for skin cancer screenings before his diagnosis in 2010. And he’s not alone. While more than 90 percent of American men admit they know something about skin cancer, only about 18 percent actually visit a doctor for annual skin cancer screenings, according to a recent survey by the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD).

 

Since Simms’ initial diagnosis, he has undergone several Mohs surgery procedures to remove cancerous cells from his skin.  During Mohs surgery, layers of cancer-containing skin are progressively removed and examined until only cancer-free tissue remains, according to the Mayo Clinic.  However, Simms also had numerous spots where precancerous cells were found.

 

“Really everywhere, any place on my body that has seen sun or been sunburnt, I have problems with,” Simms said. “I think I realized if I didn't do something, that it definitely was going to go down the wrong road and it was going to cost me, probably, my life.”

 

Now, Simms is partnering with the AAD to launch the “Spot Me” campaign, aimed at educating Americans about their risk for skin cancer. The campaign urges men of all ages to make skin health a priority through regular screenings.

 

“Well I think the big thing is, I'm out talking about it, trying to tell men and all people, ‘Don't be afraid to go to the doctor to get checkups. Don't be afraid of what they're going to find. Be happy what they find because it's going to wholly help you,’” Simms said.

 

The AAD has also partnered with three professional football teams to offer free skin cancer screenings to the public. The screenings will take place during summer training camps, family events and game days, including at:

 

  • Atlanta Falcons Training Camp: Week One (July 25-27)

  • Chicago Bears Pre-Season Family Fest (August 2)

  • Dallas Cowboys Home Opener Game (September 7) and Cowboys Rally Day (September 8)

 

For more information and to find a dermatologist near you, visit SpotMe.org.