Bank Islam Personal loan

There are many offers on personal loan from banks in Malaysia. Personal loans may be a great helper when it comes to emergency need of cash. In addition, everyone is aware that loan is the only and most viable solution to provide the required cash influx. Thus, personal loan is a great tool and form of way to manage our income and outcome in a more efficient way, provided we use it effectively and accordingly.

One of the banks offering personal loan is the Bank Islam, which worth further exploration on what it can offers. As a customer, you should be aware of the overall information about the personal loan. Take note that Bank Islam Personal Loan, the Financing-i, is a loan package that is being offered to only those in public sectors and selected Government Link Companies (GLCs). So, if you are working in a private sector, you can totally forget about this personal loan.  

For those who are interested to know more about this Bank Islam Personal Loan, it is Shariah based on Wakalah contract, with three tiers of interest rates. Therefore, you may enjoy a better interest if you go for the selected Takaful products, in which the product will include TakafulWill writing, Banca Takaful or BankIslam Card-i. As for the loan available, the amount is ranging from RM 10,000 to RM 200,000. Precisely how much you can loan is highly dependent and subject to criteria like your monthly income. A stable position with minimum salary of RM 2,000 is one of the basic requirement. There are cases in which you are allowed to loan more than RM 200,000 if you meet all criteria and able to provide collateral as security to the bank.  

Generally, personal loans in Malaysia do not require collateral or guarantor. However, this might not be the case for those of you who have weak credit score. The personal loan offers either fixed or floating interest rates, which may not be a really good benefit during the times of good economy. This may be different as it is beneficial during recession period as interest rates may go as high as over 10%. For the repayment for Bank Islam Personal Financing-i, it can be done through auto salary deduction or salary transfer to Bank Islam. The maximum amount to be deducted can be about 50% to 60% of salary. A 1% p.a penalty will be charged for any late repayment.

To go for the personal loan from Bank Islam, here is a brief summary of whether or not you are eligible to apply. It is mentioned that the loan is being offered only to those of you who are from the public sectors and selected Government Link Companies (GLCs). Of course, you must also be a Malaysian citizen, age 18 years old and above with a minimum monthly income of RM 2,000. There will be no processing charges when you apply for the loan but there will be a chargeable RM 50 Wakalah fees for this product. There will also be a 0.55% stamp duty fees based on your loan amount. For more detailed information, you may visit Bank Islam’s website or visit any branch near you.

Amazing Feats by Everyday People

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An inspiring story that reminds us we are not alone in cancer.

 

The Alpe d’Huzes–with its steep climb and 21 switch backs–is known as one of the most treacherous segments of the Tour de France. But while it may shatter many a cyclists’ dreams this coming July 22 during the Tour, this week it raised hope for millions of cancer patients and their families. Each year, thousands of Dutch nationals organize to cycle, run or walk up this infamous route to raise awareness and funding for cancer research. This year, I am honored to know one of them, our dear friend, and once-ago neighbor in the Netherlands, Hein-Jan. He made the climb, op de fiets (on bicycle) in honor of his wonderful wife, Ina, who lost her battle this fall to glioblastoma–an aggressive form of brain cancer.

While I couldn’t be there to cheer Hein-Jan on, our good friend, Neil was on hand to provide moral and logistical support. I asked Neil to provide a report of the event. Here is his account of yesterday’s effort.

The great day had arrived. Around 10,000 Cloggies (an affectionate slang term for Dutch folks) including 3,700 riders would be raising €20 million for Cancer Research by climbing “their” mountain. The local population was struggling to cope. In the whole region there was not a slice of ham or cheese to be found, the cows were working overtime to produce enough milk and by 10am in the morning the bakers had their “sold out” signs in the window!

It was also an early morning in room 301 as the final preparations were made. Being in a hotel at the top of the mountain there was first the easy bit. The journey down to the start line. I waived Hein-Jan away at 8:00 and he was back at 8:05! A new record! 5 minutes to descend and the Alpe d’Huez! And he had crossed the finish line! Those of you who know Hein-Jan well will also know he has a terrible sense of direction. This was another case in point! At 8:05 he actually descended along the correct road after being sent back by a steward!

The next meeting point would be bend 5 where the Rabobank group were gathering and supporting the riders with the help of Foolen sound installations from Son and Jan Thingy – a famous cycle race commentator.

Hein-Jan duly arrived at 11:10 after setting off around 9am – a great performance considering his training schedule. Getting to the top would probably take another hour. Looking at the queue for the cable car that we (Jasper van Zuuren had joined the coaching team at this stage) would need to take to get to the top as well, there was a good chance he would get their first! We arrived at the finish line at 12:30 – an hour and 20 minutes after he had left bend 5 – and he had indeed beaten us to the finish! Considering the training schedule, this was indeed a performance to be proud about. Even the legs were doing well! I asked how he felt….he was proud of the achievement, but it was also difficult at the end as thoughts turned to Ina and others like Dan Zenka, Francois Bienfait, Jan Burgers and more, who are fighting the battle with cancer. For a while he had ridden with a guy who had had 50 chemo treatments, the last 2 only two weeks ago, but he still made it to the top. This is just one example of the many, many incredibly brave people who undertook similar actions today…..sometimes it is possible to be proud of the human race.That’s it for now….we’re off to cheer on some more crazy people who will be riding up this mountain as many as SIX times today! This evening we have the Rabobank BBQ to praise all who took part and take the team photos….our masseuses will be with us!

A Post BBQ Note from Neil…


After a long and amazing day we have finally crashed in our apartment. Just watching events and a few minor climbs have left me shattered….what a huge number of people have done here today is breathtaking. I can report that Hein-Jan’s head hit the pillow two minutes ago only a few metres away and already the sound of snoring is wafting through the air. We will not be up early tomorrow!

A Fresh Look at Six PCa Myths

Fact-or-Myth

Six things men should know about tomatoes, fish oil, vitamin supplements, testosterone, PSA testing and more.

We all know that with more 27 known varieties of prostate cancer, it often seems like a moving target when deciding what to do either to prevent or better our chance of survival following diagnosis. Research data is sometimes contradictory. Independent pundits espouse a range of ideas and theories that are often lacking scientific backing. Thanks to our friends at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle, where PCF funds several researchers and projects, here are six important clarifications or myth busters I thought you would find useful. They were released just last week and should provide useful information to discuss with your doctor.

Myth 1 – Eating tomato-based products such as ketchup and red pasta sauce prevents prostate cancer. “The vast majority of studies show no association,” said Alan Kristal, Dr.P.H., associate director of the Hutchinson Center’s Cancer Prevention Program and a national expert in prostate cancer prevention. Kristal and colleagues last year published results of the largest study to date that aimed to determine whether foods that contain lycopene – the nutrient that puts the red in tomatoes – actually protect against prostate cancer.

After examining blood levels of lycopene in nearly 3,500 men nationwide they found no association. “Scientists and the public should understand that early studies supporting an association of dietary lycopene with reduced prostate cancer risk have not been replicated in studies using serum biomarkers of lycopene intake,” the authors reported in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. “Recommendations of professional societies to the public should be modified to reflect the likelihood that increasing lycopene intake will not affect prostate cancer risk.”

Myth 2 – High testosterone levels increase the risk of prostate cancer. “This is a hypothesis based on a very simplistic understanding of testosterone metabolism and its effect on prostate cancer. It is simply wrong,” Kristal said. Unlike estrogen and breast cancer, where there is a very strong relationship, testosterone levels have no association with prostate cancer risk, he said. A study published in 2008 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, which combined data from 18 large studies, found no association between blood testosterone concentration and prostate cancer risk, and more recent studies have confirmed this conclusion.

Myth 3 – Fish oil (omega-3 fatty acids) decreases prostate cancer risk. “This sounds reasonable, based on an association of inflammation with prostate cancer and the anti-inflammatory effects of omega-3 fatty acids,” Kristal said. However, two large, well-designed studies – including one led by Kristal that was published last year in the American Journal of Epidemiology – have shown that high blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids increase the odds of developing high-risk prostate cancer.

Analyzing data from a nationwide study of nearly 3,500 men, they found that those with the highest blood percentages of docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, an inflammation-lowering omega-3 fatty acid commonly found in fatty fish, have two-and-a-half times the risk of developing aggressive, high-grade prostate cancer compared to men with the lowest DHA levels. “This very sobering finding suggests that our understanding of the effects of omega-3 fatty acids is incomplete,” Kristal said.

Myth 4 – Vitamins and dietary supplements can prevent prostate cancer. Several large, randomized trials that have looked at the impact of dietary supplements on the risk of various cancers, including prostate, have shown either no effect or, much more troubling, they have shown significantly increased risk. “The more we look at the effects of taking supplements, the more hazardous they appear when it comes to cancer risk,” Kristal said. For example, the Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (SELECT), the largest prostate cancer prevention study to date, was stopped early because it found neither selenium nor vitamin E supplements alone or combined reduced the risk of prostate cancer. A SELECT follow-up study published last year in JAMA found that vitamin E actually increased the risk of prostate cancer among healthy men. The Hutchinson Center oversaw statistical analysis for the study, which involved nearly 35,000 men in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico.

Myth 5 – We don’t know which prostate cancers detected by PSA (prostate-specific antigen) screening need to be treated and which ones can be left alone. “Actually, we have a very good sense of which cancers have a very low risk of progression and which ones are highly likely to spread if left untreated,” said biostatistician Ruth Etzioni, Ph.D., a member of the Hutchinson Center’s Public Health Sciences Division.

In addition to blood levels of PSA, indicators of aggressive disease include tumor volume (the number of biopsy samples that contain cancer) and Gleason score (predicting the aggressiveness of cancer by how the biopsy samples look under a microscope). Gleason scores range from 2-5 (low risk) and 6-7 (medium risk) to 8-10 (high risk).

“Men with a low PSA level, a biopsy Gleason score of 6 or lower and very few biopsy samples with cancer are generally considered to be very low risk,” Etzioni said. Such newly diagnosed men increasingly are being offered active surveillance – a watchful waiting approach – rather than therapy for their disease, particularly if they are older or have a short life expectancy.

“The chance that these men will die of their disease if they are not treated is very low, around 3 percent,” she said. Similarly, such men who opt for treatment have a mortality rate of about 2 percent. “For the majority of newly diagnosed cases of prostate cancer, by taking into account initial clinical and biopsy information we can get a very good idea of who should be treated and who is likely to benefit from deferring treatment.”

Myth 6 – Only one in 50 men diagnosed with PSA screening benefits from treatment. “This number, which was released as a preliminary result from the European Randomized Study of Prostate Cancer Screening, is simply incorrect,” Etzioni said. “It suggests a very unfavorable harm-benefit ratio for PSA screening. It implies that for every man whose life is saved by PSA screening, almost 50 are overdiagnosed and overtreated.”

“Overdiagnosis” is diagnosing a disease that will never cause symptoms or death in the patient’s lifetime. “Overtreatment” is treating a disease that will never progress to become symptomatic or life-threatening.

The 50-to-one ratio, which is based on short-term follow-up data, “grossly underestimates” the lives likely to be saved by screening over the long term and overestimates the number of men who are overdiagnosed, Etzioni said. “The correct ratio of men diagnosed with PSA testing who are overdiagnosed and overtreated versus men whose lives are saved by treatment long term is more likely to be 10 to one.”

 

How 17 Genes Can Change a Man’s World

Yesterday’s launch of a new test that identifies a unique 17-gene signature indicative of aggressive prostate cancer opens the door to a whole new world for patients.

Genetictesting

Sometimes we are so busy looking forward to the future that we fail to see it has arrived. Genomic Health’s introduction of a new test (Oncogene DX) can more accurately predict the aggressiveness of a man’s prostate cancer. If that doesn’t turn the heads of many newly-diagnosed patients, I’m not sure what can. It opens a new era of prostate-specific molecular diagnostics and better predictive bio-markers that will give patients and their physicians more accurate assessment data for choosing the right treatment plan.

This new test (Oncogene DX Prostate Cancer Test) will potentially give tens of thousands of men increased confidence that they can safely forgo aggressive treatment and instead enter a program of active surveillance, where their tumor is monitored over time, deferring surgery or radiation and avoiding the sexual and/or bowel and bladder dysfunction side-effects that can result from those treatments.

To arrive at the 17-gene signature, researchers began with a series of studies conducted at the Cleveland Clinic under the leadership of Dr. Eric Klein. They followed a group of men over time, analyzing the genetics of their tumors. It was through these initial analyses that a group of more than 700 candidate genes was winnowed down to the current subset of 17 used in the predictive signature test now offered by Genomic Health. It has a 95 percent accuracy rate in its ability to predict the future aggressiveness of a tumor even when traditional Gleason scoring points to low-risk prostate cancer at the time of biopsy. The signature was validated in seven separate studies involving more than 1,000 men.

Some patients who have already given their prostate or endured radiation treatment might be tempted to think its too little, to late for them. But I am encouraged that future patients will be given more reliable data about their cancer so they can select treatment plans–or decide not to treat–with greater peace of mind.

More genetic-based tests are on the horizon. Their arrival and subsequent use in the clinic will render the great PSA debate moot sooner than later. And, beyond sparing patients from the trials of unnecessary treatment, the test, which carries a list price of $3,820, may also eliminate billions of dollars in unneeded surgeries or radiation.

For us patients and our families, it’s a comforting idea and a bold new world.

Read more about the development of the 17-gene signature test.

Guesthouse in Myeongdong

List of Guesthouses in Myeongdong

Myeondong is known to be one of the most popular shopping areas in Seoul, Korea. Today, it is also one of the most expensive areas for you to live in. Fortunately for you, there are a number of guesthouses that you can stay on a budget for your next trip to Myeongdong. Myeongdong is one of the best area to stay in Seoul if you are wondering. The word budget may scare some people off but you can be rest ensured that these guesthouses are by no means run down or poorly managed. In fact, they are decent and value for your money. This article focuses on the summary of what each guesthouse has to offer. For the other guesthouses that are not listed in this post, please check out our other posts. Without further ado, here is the list of the guesthouses.

Moon Sun Guesthouse Myeongdong

 

  • Myeongdong subway station is just 4 minutes’ walk away
  • City center is just a few miles away
  • Incheon International Airport is situated 55 minutes away
  • Easy access for you to visit famous places of interest
  • Namsan Park is just 10 minutes’ walk away
  • Excellent services that include free Wi-Fi internet access in all rooms, a gift and souvenir shop, laundry services, photocopying and printing services
  • Features 6 well-designed rooms that come with towels, slippers and mirrors
  • It is suitable for people who wants to shop, eat and sightsee
  • It costs approximately USD $49 per room night according to KAYAK

 

 

Vestin Villa Myeongdong

 

  • Myeongdong subway station is just 5 minutes’ walk away
  • The nearest airport is Gimpo Airport that is situated 16.1 kilometres away
  • Guests praised this guesthouse for their clean rooms, good location and friendly and helpful service staffs
  • Services in this guesthouse include free Wi-Fi internet access in all rooms, 24-hours front desk, storage for luggage and complimentary parking spot
  • Top attractions within this guesthouse are Namsan Park situated 9 minutes’ walk away and Seven Luck Casino situated 11 minutes’ walk away
  • The rooms come with non-smoking options, air conditioning, telephone services, heating systems
  • It is suitable for people who wants to shop, eat and sightsee
  • It costs approximately USD $51 per room night according to Agoda

 

 

Mama Guesthouse Myeongdong

 

  • Myeongdong subway station is just 4 minutes’ walk away
  • The nearest airport is Gimpo Airport that is situated 16.4 kilometres away
  • It is an ideal accommodation if you are looking for some fun and relaxation at the same time
  • Guests praised this guesthouse for their clean rooms, good location and friendly and helpful service staffs
  • There are some top attractions within the guesthouse
  • Namsan Park is located 10 minutes’ walk away
  • From this guesthouse, guests can tour famous attractions like Seoul Animation Center, Myeongdong Cathedral and Chunjiyun Spa
  • Services in this guesthouse include free Wi-Fi internet access in all rooms, 24-hours room service, valet parking and complimentary parking spots
  • It is suitable for people who wants to shop, eat and sightsee
  • It costs approximately USD $49 per room night according to Agoda

 

 

I House Guesthouse

 

  • Myeongdong subway station is just 5 minutes’ walk away
  • The nearest airport is Gimpo Airport that is situated 16 kilometres away
  • The guesthouse is strategically located in sightseeing, restaurants area and shopping area
  • Namsan Park and Seven Luck Casino is located 10 minutes’ walk away
  • Services in this guesthouse include free Wi-Fi internet access in all rooms, storage for your luggage, Wi-Fi internet access in public areas within the guesthouse, complimentary car park and room service
  • The rooms come with desk, hair dryer and soundproofing which is something that is not commonly found in these type of budget guesthouses
  • It is suitable for people who wants to shop, eat and sightsee
  • It costs approximately USD $50 per room night according to Booking.com

 

Guesthouse in Myeondong

Namsan Guesthouse 5

 

  • Myeongdong subway station is just 5 minutes’ walk away
  • The nearest airport is Gimpo Airport that is situated 16.1 kilometres away
  • Great choice to stay in if you are here for sightseeing or for business purposes
  • Services include free Wi-Fi internet access in all rooms, storage for luggage, Wi-Fi internet access in public areas within the guesthouse and valet parking
  • Namsan Park and Seven Luck Casino is located 10 minutes’ walk away
  • The rooms come with non-smoking options, air conditioning, heating system and blackout curtains
  • It is suitable for people who wants to shop, eat and sightsee
  • It costs approximately USD $57 per room night according to Booking.com

 

 

IU Guesthouse

 

  • Myeongdong subway station is just 5 minutes’ walk away
  • The nearest airport is Gimpo Airport that is situated 16 kilometres away
  • Guests praised this guesthouse for their clean and comfortable rooms, great view and friendly service staffs
  • Namsan Park and Seven Luck Casino is just 10 minutes’ walk away
  • Services include free Wi-Fi internet access, Wi-Fi internet access in public areas within the guesthouse, shops and storage for luggage facility
  • It is suitable for people who wants to shop, eat and sightsee
  • It costs approximately USD $66 per room night according to Booking.com

 

 

Loans in Malaysia

A personal loan is defined as a type of short-term loan with short repayment period relatively to other loans like mortgages. Personal loans in Malaysia are designed based on Sharia law and principles which are applicable to all Islamic banks offering personal loans. Whatever the end result or goal for taking a personal loan which might be similar, they all obey different forms of principles at the time of application as well as the sanctions for defaulters.

In Malaysia, personal loans amount start as low as RM1000 and can be accessed up to the RM200000 amount. The amount of the personal loan that can be accessed is dependent on the needs of the individual and the ability to repay the loan on time in order to avoid penalties in some cases. The types of personal loans offered in Malaysia can be broadly divided into secured and unsecured personal loans.

A secured loan is basically defined as a type of loan where an applicant tenders his or her assets in a form of security or as collateral to get access to the loan. A secured loan relatively comes with lower interest rates. However, caution should be taken because failure to repay the borrowed funds might lead to the loss of the assets used as collateral. For an unsecured loan, the acquisition of this type of loan might be a little tedious because there is no requirement for guarantor or collateral. The credit score and financial value of an individual will be used in determining the approval of an unsecured loan. In case a borrower fails to repay the funds by the end of the loan tenure, such individual is taken to court and the sale of properties might be the only way out.

 

List of Banks

Some of the banks that offer personal loan in Malaysia include:

  • Bank Rakyat
  • HSBC Bank
  • Public Islamic Bank
  • BSN Bank
  • CIMB
  • May Bank
  • RHB  

 

Terms and Conditions

  • The applicant must be a citizen of Malaysia with the minimum age of 20 years although some banks have provision for foreign citizens
  • The applicant must be a permanent and full-time employee working under a company in the banks’ approved list with proof from the employer or self-employed with good savings account statement or credit record
  • The applicant must have a minimum income of RM3000 per month on average and this amount may vary from bank to bank
  • There is a fee for late repayment of loan; most of the time the individual will pay 1% of the borrowed funds per annum
  • Personal loans offered in Malaysia come in various packages and plan with competitive interest rates and flexible repayment which can span up to 10 years and  this makes personal loan so attractive to potential borrowers
  • Interest rate on personal loan varies from bank to bank and also the type of personal loan scheme being applied for
  • In general, the interest rate on personal loan in Malaysia ranges between 4.49% to 13.75%
  • Loans that are applied for by individuals working in the government sector or some notable corporate organizations come with cheaper interest rates

 

Required Documents

Please take note that the required documents may vary from bank to bank. However, below is a list of the required documents that are currently required by the banks.

  • A photocopy of your MyKad for front and back
  • Latest tax receipts and tax returns
  • Confirmation letter stating your personal details from your current employer or Head of Department
  • Latest savings account bank statement
  • Latest savings or current account bank statement if you are a self-employed
  • Latest and current Employee Provident Fund (EPF) statement
  • Other required supporting documents that are requested by the banks

 

ADT:Prostate Cancer’s “Slow Drip Chemo”

In my job, I meet a lot of interesting and dedicated people. One of the most recent was Rick Davis, a Bay Area patient and prostate cancer advocate. Rick has co-moderated a prostate cancer support group in Marin County and sits on the Prostate Cancer Advocates Committee at UCSF Medical Center, assuring patient care, as well as  developing prostate cancer patient information materials. He is an active athlete and is also working on a unique program to more proactively link exercise to patient treatment plans for all serious and chronic illness.

As we met over lunch we swapped stories of our experiences with androgen deprivation therapy (ADT). Rick’s experience was particularly extreme. He was so affected by his time on Lupron that he had to file for disability. We agreed that each man is affected differently by the spectrum of potential ADT side effects. Some men are fortunate enough to barely notice a difference. Others are prone to every side effect on the list. The severity of the side effects also varies greatly from man to man. Most men I talk with are–to say the least– surprised by the experience. Rick and I agreed that, from our perspectives and responses to treatment, ADT is a form of slow drip chemo–something most bystanders don’t understand and that perhaps many physicians don’t appreciate from a patient’s point of view. Still, the benefits far outweigh the downside.

I asked Rick to pen a guest blog entry and he graciously agreed. I wonder if readers will agree with our “slow drip chemo” characterization.

–Dan

 

Twenty-eight months of hormone therapy does not sound like much considering the benefits –your life. But nobody tells you how many functions of the male body can go awry without an assist from your macho hormones that turn 120 pound weaklings into Charles Atlas and Plain John into Casanova.

Three months find you fanning your brow as you swelter in mid-winter. At six months you could be wondering how you might have failed to notice Julia Roberts pass under your nose.  And yes, you are always hungry – not for healthy victuals but the carbs, ice cream, and chocolate your wife and friends crave. It’s quite possible to add a quick 20 lbs while not being able to find the motivation to hit the gym… not to mention the strength or endurance once you get your sorry butt there.

By nine months you are cursing this slow drip chemo. ‘Lupron Brain’ lowers you into the constant fog of a San Francisco July; it’s hard to concentrate for more than 120 seconds since you lose track of the first sixty. The wretched combination of fatigue, depression and anemia, the same three musketeers that duel with brain cells in chemotherapy patients, all result from a lack of testosterone.  Surprisingly and contrary to expectations, a fuller mane above is covertly offset by loss of cover elsewhere on our pre-pubescent body.

Yet, so many well-meaning folks tell you look so healthy, producing emotional twinges of guilt for feeling as crappy as you do.

After 12 months, we know the systems are all awry; the liver may be inflamed, cholesterol rockets, the heart beats to its own testosterone-less drum;  and one task per day can lay us flat. Our medical gurus never mentioned all the issues we might well have noted by carefully perusing the pharmaceutical disclaimer.

It’s fair to say, every man reacts differently to hormone therapy. Few hit the jackpot of every side effect with a 5% or less incidence. My bogeymen were liver and anemia; Dan’s his arrhythmic heart, fatigue and momentary brain fogs. In the worst cases, some poor souls who have never received a visit from what I call the emotional  ‘black dog’ spiral further into depression. For many men the simplest and safest antidote is daily exercise – perhaps the subject of a future post.

Hormone therapy, like chemotherapy, is systemic. Contrary to many chemo treatments it does not assault the system; it creeps up like too many birthdays. Men facing just 4-8 months of adjuvant therapy in combination with radiation are frequently off the ‘juice’ before much more than the sweats. Those facing longer treatments find an exponential deterioration in their quality of life beyond 12 months. Several doctors have disclosed, NOT upfront mind you, that some men cannot endure more than 12 months before coming off the LHRH (luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone) drugs.

Intermittent therapy, going on and off hormone therapy, balances Quality of Life factors with controlling the prostate cancer; but this is more in line with recurrent disease. It must be managed for a lifetime stretching the period hormone therapy is still effective. For men receiving neo-adjuvant or adjuvant hormone therapy in the hope of finding the elusive C-word grail – CURE, different studies suggest continuous therapy for 18-36 months. In line with Dan’s recent post, there is a developing school of thought that the LHRH drugs do the bulk of their work in the first 12 months; thereafter the benefits are marginal and easily outweighed by QoL and medical co-morbidities.

Either way, those of us who have lasted the longer course as well as several enlightened practitioners, are in agreement that treating doctors do a poor job preparing men for their rough ride along the hormone therapy journey. Over the past 18 months I have provided a catalytic function to produce a comprehensive UCSF ‘Your Health Matters’ pamphlet for men considering hormone therapy, long or short. While still in draft, I am happy to share with any of you that follow this blog. And for those of you well along the Lupron highway – keep the faith …. onwards & upwards!

New Drugs for Advanced Prostate Cancer Continue to Work Their Way to Market

The count keeps growing for the benefit of patients.

ust as I had updated my new drug tally last week, another one progresses. No complaints, mind you. In fact, it’s wonderful news.

Here are the updated totals: 4 new drugs in the past two years including Jevtana (cabazitaxel), Xgeva (denosumab), Provenge and Zytiga (abiraterone). Another, enzalutimide (MDV3100) is pending approval for the FDA and currently available to patients under an expanded access program. A promising new radiotherapy, Alpharadin (radium-223 chloride) is working its way through the approvals process with a Fast-Track designation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Now today, Tokai Pharmaceuticals Inc., a biopharmaceutical company based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, said in a press release that the Food and Drug Administration has granted Fast-Track status for its lead drug candidate, a potential treatment of metastatic treatment-resistant (otherwise known as castration-resistant) prostate cancer.

As reported by Chris Reidy, of the Boston Globe, “Fast-track designation is reserved for the review of experimental drugs that treat serious or life-threatening conditions or address unmet medical needs. In general, regulators spend about 10 months reviewing a drug candidate before issuing a decision. Getting fast-track status means that Tokai could get a decision in six months on whether or not the FDA will approve the drug.”

Tokai’s drug is galeterone, or TOK-001. It aims to treat castration-resistant prostate cancer, or CRPC, an advanced, difficult-to-treat form of prostate cancer that occurs when the disease progresses despite the use of androgen deprivation therapy.

Despite recent progress in prostate cancer treatment, CRPC often becomes resistant to androgen deprivation therapy, and galeterone’s unique triple mechanism of action may offer an important therapeutic advance, said  Martin D. Williams, Tokai’s presiden t and chief executive. “We are very encouraged by the recent positive results from our ARMOR1 clinical study, and we look forward to advancing galeterone into Phase 2 development in patients with CRPC later this year.”

Of these drugs that work on the androgen receptor (AR), Zytiga, TOK-001, and Enzalutimide, they target varying and multiple mechanisms in signalling pathways for disease progression. So, not only do we have more weapons in our arsenal for advanced disease, we will also be able to study which patients and varieties of prostate cancer respond best to specific drugs or combinations of these new therapies and move closer to patient-specific treatments.

Let the numbers roll… I am up for constantly having to revise them.

With Proposed Cuts to NIH Research, 21 New Young Investigators Offer Good News

As researchers and advocates rallied in Washington today, calling for a halt to proposed medical research cuts, prostate cancer research received 21 Young Investigators committed to discovering better treatments and cures. 

 

Since budget sequestration went into effect, the news for medical research has been precarious at best. Current projected budget cuts for medical research as a result of sequestration stand at $1.6 billion. These cuts would have a devastating effect on progress against cancer and other life-threatening diseases. With the budget of the NIH holding steady over the last half-decade, the chances of research grants being funded have already fallen to roughly 1 in 6, half of the historic rate.

Advocates and researchers rallied in Washington today, calling upon legislators to preserve medical research funding at the National Institutes of Health.
Advocates and researchers rallied in Washington today, calling upon legislators to preserve medical research funding at the National Institutes of Health.

In a recent interview with USA Today, Francis Collins, director of the NIH said: “I worry desperately this means we will lose a generation of young scientists… A lot of good science just won’t be done.”

Without our young scientists, not only would scientific advances for cures dwindle, so would America’s leading position in bio-medical science. What’s more, some estimates place the potential number of jobs that would be lost in the research sector at around 20,000. I know I’ve said it before, but it needs to be repeated: funding for medical research is not a cost. It is an investment in the well-being of Americans and our healthcare system, as well as our economy.

I am pleased to report that hours before the Rally for Medical Research took place this morning in Washington, DC,
theProstate Cancer Foundation (PCF) announced $4.7 million in funding for 21 new and innovative Young IMG00043-20130408-12261-300x198Investigators(YIs) to focus on the problem of prostate cancer. PCF has funded 118 young professionals since 2007, representing a total investment of more than $25 million. Since the launch of PCF’s Young Investigator program, the contributions of young scientists funded by PCF are making measurable contributions in changing the way patients diagnosed with this disease are treated today.

One PCF Young Investigator recently told me, “We don’t know the meaning of it can’t be done… Young Investigators are the hope for the future of prostate cancer research.”

As a patient, I whole-heartedly agree. I am very hopeful of my future because of the future these young and very talented researchers are bringing to fruition.

Seeing the Unseen

Advances in PET scan imaging may soon enable clinicians to see and treat metastatic prostate cancer lesions earlier and with greater precision. 

CT-scan
Recent discoveries in PET scanning may soon enable clinicians to see and treat metastatic prostate cancer tumors earlier than ever before.

 

Ask any fellow patient who has been diagnosed with advanced metastatic disease what their biggest fear is and the answer is simple: recurrence. Of course, the quarterly or six-month PSA test–which comes with its own mix of anxiety and reassurance–remains the first step in watching for the progression of prostate cancer. But patients also wonder, is it growing? And if so, where is it growing?

To date, traditional imaging techniques such as bone scans and computed tomography (CT) have been used to detect prostate cancer tumors that have metastasized away from the gland. But they have drawbacks. They can neither detect lesions that are outside of bony areas nor discern between benign and cancerous lesions. Now all that may be changing with advances in PET (positron emitting tomography) scanning, also known a molecular imaging.

Scientists at Johns Hopkins are now attaching a positron-emitting radioactive tracer to a newly synthesized small-molecule compound that is targeted to a protein (prostate specific membrane antigen–PMSA) that is found in prostate cancer as well as in the newly-formed blood vessels of many other solid types of tumors. The result is that the radioactive tracer is able to “light up” on PET scan images of soft tissues that have been invaded by cancer cells, such as lymph nodes. With several new drugs that have come to market  for the treatment of metastatic prostate cancer, the earlier these cancerous lesions are found, the sooner treatments can be prescribed.

As a patient, I am encouraged that clinicians may soon be able to see the heretofore unseen spread of cancer and treat it earlier should mine return. So should many other patients.

According to Dr. Steven Cho, the first author on theJournal of Nuclear Medicine paper PET and PMSA (and recipient of PCF Young Investigator and Creativity Awards), “Much work remains before PET scans are routinely used to bring functional or molecular imaging into routine clinical care to improve prostate cancer treatment. However, ongoing collective work, here at Hopkins and others sites, is moving at an accelerated pace that we believe will bring this form of imaging into clinical reality for prostate cancer patients in the short-term future.”

Reassuring news, indeed.