Liver Cancer News 2019

Blue Faery: The Adrienne Wilson Liver Cancer Association



Liver Cancer News 2019

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First Patient Dosed in a Clinical Trial of Tyvyt® (Sintilimab injection) in Combination with IBI305 as First Line Treatment for Patients with Advanced Hepatocellular Carcinoma
27 February 2019
Innovent Biologics, Inc. has announced that the first patient has been dosed in ORIENT-32 trial. This trial that evaluates Tyvyt® (sintilimab injection) as first-line treatment for patients with advanced Hepatocellular Carcinoma. 566 patients will be enrolled in the study. Tyvyt® is an innovative drug jointly developed in China by Innovent and Eli Lilly and Company. Currently, more than twenty clinical studies of sintilimab injection, including seven registration studies, are ongoing to evaluate the efficacy of sintilimab injection on other solid tumors.

HIV Infection Linked To Shorter Survival In Hepatocellular Carcinoma
22 February 2019
HIV seropositivity appeared associated with shorter overall survival among patients with Hepatocellular Carcinoma despite sufficient antiretroviral treatment, according to results of a global multicohort study published in Journal of Clinical Oncology. Researchers analyzed 1,588 patients with HCC who received no prior anticancer treatment which included 132 HIV-positive patients and 1,456 HIV-negative patients. Results reported overall survival of 2.2 months among HIV-positive patients and 4.1 months among those not infected with HIV. The inferior probability of survival that accompanies HCC patients with HIV deserves to be considered in patient counseling and therapeutic decision-making. Mechanistic studies on clinical samples evaluating the immunopathologic features of HIV-associated HCC in comparison with HIV-negative controls are urgently required.

Pembrolizumab Misses Primary Endpoints in HCC Trial
20 February 2019
The KEYNOTE-240 trial (NCT02702401) has reportedly failed at its coprimary endpoints, progression-free survival (PFS) or overall survival (OS). KEYNOTE-240 is the confirmatory trial for pembrolizumab, which was granted an accelerated approval in November 2018 for patients with HCC who were previously treated with sorafenib (Nexavar), based on data from the phase II KEYNOTE-224 trial. In the double-blind, phase III KEYNOTE-240 trial, 413 patients were randomized to receive pembrolizumab plus best supportive care versus placebo plus best supportive care in patients with advanced HCC who previously received systemic therapy. The safety profile of pembrolizumab in KEYNOTE-240 was consistent with what has been observed in prior studies with the PD-1 inhibitor.

Hepatocellular Carcinoma Diagnosis, Prognosis And Treatment May Improve By Identifying A Protein
20 February 2019
Researchers at Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology have found elevated expression of tonicity-responsive enhancer-binding protein (TonEBP) in the tumor tissue of more than 90% of patients studied and was more prevalent than any other molecular marker used to detect Hepatocellular Carcinoma in tumor tissue. They also found that higher tumor TonEBP expression was associated with larger tumor size, advanced tumor grade, recurrence and its migration to other parts of the body, thus acting as a useful tool in predicting Hepatocellular Carcinoma prognosis. Tone’s role in Hepatocellular Carcinoma is linked to its involvement in inflammation. Targeting TonEBP could be an attractive strategy to prevent the development, spread and recurrence of hepatocellular carcinoma.

Teasing Out The Three Subtypes Of Liver Cancer
14 February 2019
A research team based at Tokyo Medical and Dental University (TMDU), Japan, has combined genomic and immunological data to classify Hepatocellular Carcinoma into three distinct subgroups. The team, led by Professor Shinji Tanaka, combined data on mutations, gene expression patterns and immunological status to shed light on the variation among cases. They reviewed the data of 183 surgically removed HCC tumors. The researchers revealed three types of HCC, tumors with mutation in the CTNNB1 gene and immune suppression, tumors associated with conditions such as obesity and diabetes, and tumors with genomic instability. Patients with tumors belonging to the third group had a worse prognosis.

Eureka Plans US Trial Testing ET140202 T-cell Therapy in Liver Cancer Patients
13 February 2019
Eureka Therapeutics is planning a Phase 1/2 clinical trial in the United States scheduled to begin sometime in the first half of 2019. The trial will focus on safety and effectiveness of its investigational T-cell therapy ET140202 in patients with advanced Hepatocellular Carcinoma. ET140202 is a new T-cell therapy product that uses natural mechanisms of T-cells to fight cancer. In an ongoing Phase 1 trial (NCT03349255) in China, ET140202 was safe and did not cause the normal side effects associated with other T-cell treatments. In the trial, three of the six patients experienced a reduction in tumor size, and one had a complete response.

Study Reaffirms Safety of Hepatitis C Meds in Liver Cancer Patients
12 February 2019
Recent research findings contradict previous research suggesting that antiviral drugs might increase these patients’ risk of liver cancer recurrence. The previous study which involved a single-center study from Spanish investigators in 2016 that “gained a lot of press and sparked fear about treating liver cancer patients for their hepatitis C,” said Dr. Amit Singal, medical director of the liver tumor program at UT Southwestern Medical Center, in Dallas. The investigators compared liver cancer recurrence in those who were and were not given direct-acting antivirals for hepatitis C. The cancer recurrence rates were 42 percent among those who received the antiviral drugs and 59 percent among those who did not receive the medication.

Dual Modality Radiation May Improve Survival in HCC with Gross Vascular Invasion
12 February 2019
Researchers show that patients with Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC) and gross vascular invasion (GVI) may have improved overall survival (OS) after being treated with dual modality radiation with external beam radiation therapy (EBRT) and transarterial radioembolization (TARE). Systemic therapy such as sorafenib has had poor outcomes for patients with HCC and GVI, so researchers undertook the study to determine whether there were differences in outcomes using dual modality radiation (EBRT+TARE) compared with EBRT alone. For the 12 patients who had EBRT and TARE delivered within 2 months as planned, median progression-free survival (PFS) was 218 days for dual modality radiation compared with 63 days for only EBRT.

Liver Cancer Becoming Prominent Among Indian Youngsters Due to Poor Lifestyle
12 February 2019
While surgery to remove a liver tumor offers the best chance for a cure, surgery is not an option for more than two-thirds of patients with primary liver cancer. Approximately, seventy percent of patients with liver cancer cannot opt for surgery for many reasons. Interventional radiologists may perform minimally invasive surgeries like embolization or thermal ablation, etc., depending on the patient’s case history. These minimally invasive therapies use imaging techniques such as CT, ultrasound, or MRI to guide the delivery of treatments directly to tumor sites. There are several types of thermal ablation, including radio-frequency ablation, which uses radio waves to super-heat the tumor, and cryoablation, which freezes the tumor.

Biomarkers Associated with Response to Regorafenib in Patients with Hepatocellular Carcinoma
11 February 2019
Researchers analyzed plasma and tumor samples from study participants to identify genetic, microRNA (miRNA) and protein biomarkers associated with regorafenib. Archived tumor tissues and baseline plasma samples were obtained from patients with Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC) given regorafenib in the RESORCE trial. They analyzed baseline plasma samples from 499 patients. In the RESORCE trial, expression patterns of plasma proteins and miRNAs that related to increased overall survival times of patients with HCC following treatment with regorafenib were identified.

Direct-Acting Antivirals Reduce Risk Of Premature Mortality And Liver Cancer For People With Chronic Hepatitis C
11 February 2019
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is an infection which causes complications such as cirrhosis, liver disease, Hepatocellular Carcinoma, and many people die as a result. The first prospective, longitudinal study investigating treatment of chronic hepatitis C with direct-acting antivirals, comparing treated and untreated patients, finds that the treatment is associated with reduced risk of mortality and liver cancer, according to a study published in The Lancet. Patients who were treated were 52% less likely to die prematurely than people who were not treated and 33% less likely to present with Hepatocellular Carcinoma.  The study suggests this treatment should be considered for all patients with chronic hepatitis C infection.

Study: Anti-Cancer Gene May Fuel Tumor Growth
10 February 2019
According to a study by researchers at the University of California, San Diego, a cancer-fighting gene known as the “guardian of the genome” promotes certain tumors. The study demonstrates a point that oncologists have been making for decades: Cancer is not one disease. Researchers led by Yang Xu based their results on studies of human patients, cell samples and mouse models of cancer. Xu and colleagues found that restoring p53 function in mutated liver cancer cells improves their metabolism by indirectly causing cells to switch to a process called glycolysis. This metabolic change to glycolysis, called the Warburg effect, has been recognized for decades as a characteristic of cancer. In liver cancers, promoting p53 function will induce this metabolic shift, energizing the cancer.

A Hidden Route for Fatty Acids Can Make Cancers Resistant to Therapy
7 February 2019
Researchers from the lab of prof. Sarah-Maria Fendt at the VIB-KU Leuven Center for Cancer Biology have demonstrated that certain tumor cells use an alternative pathway to produce fatty acids. Fatty acid metabolism is an essential process in tumor growth and proliferation. Study outcomes have not always been positive when attempting to block fatty acid metabolism as a therapeutic strategy. It has been found that stearoyl-CoA desaturase (SCD) is the enzyme that is the only source of newly produced mono-unsaturated fatty acids, which are required for membrane generation. The presence of this alternative metabolic pathway was identified in isolated cancer cells and in lung and liver tumors samples from mice and human patients.

Hepatocellular Carcinoma: H-Prune Gene Regulatory Networks
7 February 2019
Haotian Liao and colleagues, at the Liver Surgery and Liver Transplant Dision at the West China Hospital, thoroughly analyzed the role of the H-Prune protein in HCC. The H-Prune protein has associated with lung cancer, breast cancer, medulloblastoma and colorectal liver metastases. The team has shown that H- Prune functions as a tumor promoter in HCC. These findings highlight the importance of a wider approach as a powerful tool to infer the dynamics of cancer. Liao and his team will continue to do more research.

Alcoholic Drinks Are Volatile Cocktail In Liver Cancer Link
5 February 2019
Primary liver cancer is serious and often linked to excessive alcohol consumption. Unfortunately, more people are dying from the disease. Alcohol is a direct contributor to liver cancer, as excessive alcohol consumption is a chief cause of cirrhosis of the liver which happens when scar tissue builds up on the liver stopping it from working properly.

Dr. Li On Preoperative Immunotherapy In Hepatocellular Carcinoma
5 February 2019
A lot of focus in HCC has been placed on the use of immunotherapy in the frontline metastatic setting, says Li. One study (NCT03222076) of interest evaluated the use of either nivolumab (Opdivo) monotherapy or the combination of nivolumab and ipilimumab (Yervoy) in patients with resectable disease in the preoperative or adjuvant setting.

Crunching The Data: New Liver Cancer Subtypes Revealed Immunologically
1 February 2019
A research team based at Tokyo Medical and Dental University (TMDU) has used an integrated data analysis to classify Hepatocellular Carcinoma, the most common type of liver cancer, into three distinct subgroups, which should aid targeted treatment.

Anti-Rejection Drug Rapamycin Shows Promise In Liver Cancer
1 February 2019
Scientists at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine were studying the cells that surround the liver’s central vein when they made a serendipitous discovery. Cells with a mutation in a gene called β-catenin also made high levels of the mTOR protein—a fault that they believe could promote the development of cancer.

Commonly Used Anti-Rejection Drug Could Be Repurposed To Treat Some Liver Cancers
31 January 2019
Satdarshan Monga, M.D., professor of pathology and the founding director of the Pittsburgh Liver Research Center at Pitt’s School of Medicine and his team of researchers discovered a new use for a commonly used anti-rejection medication. Approximately 20% – 35% percent of liver cancers have a β-catenin mutation, but there is little understanding of how and why these mutations aid the growth of cancer cells. When Monga found similarly high levels of active mTOR in β-catenin mutated liver cancers, he wondered whether the two proteins could be functionally linked.

FDA Accepts New Drug Application For Liver Cancer T-Cell Therapy
30 January 2019
FDA has cleared its investigational new drug application for ET140202 ARTEMIS T-cell therapy for patients with Hepatocellular Carcinoma. Patients who are positive for alpha-fetoprotein could benefit from this new medication. Results from a first-in-human study in China showed that ET140202 demonstrated a favorable safety profile in six patients with no observed neurotoxicity. Additionally, three of the six patients achieved tumor regression. Cheng Liu, PhD, president and CEO of Eureka Therapeutics said, “This is an exciting time for Eureka as we prepare to initiate our U.S. clinical trial in patients with Hepatocellular Carcinoma.” Eureka plans to initiate a phase 1/2 multicenter clinical trial in the U.S. during the first half of 2019.

Fibrosis Markers Tied To Mortality After Liver Cancer Surgery
28 January 2019
A retrospective study suggests that markers of fibrosis, the thickening and scarring of connective tissue, is linked to mortality and survival after liver resection. Dr. Maegawa of Southern Arizona Veterans Affairs Health Care System, Tucson, AZ, and colleagues analyzed 475 patients who underwent hepatectomy between 2000 and 2012. Dr. Maegawa explained that while resection is usually the preferred therapy, tumor ablation and transplant are great alternatives. “This information should be integrated into an overall clinical assessment …. when determining who may be suitable and what the risk is of liver resection for Hepatocellular Carcinoma.” stated Dr. Maegawa.

Stereotactic Body Radiation Shows Sustained Local Control In Hepatocellular Carcinoma
23 January 2019
According to a North American pooled analysis, presented at Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium, stereotactic body radiation therapy showed promising rates of local control and survival in patients diagnosed with early-stage HCC. “Stereotactic body radiation therapy is a noninvasive, ablative treatment for patients with Hepatocellular Carcinoma,” Ashwathy Susan Mathew, DNB, MBBS, MD, clinical fellow in the department of radiation oncology at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, and colleagues wrote. Analysis included 310 patients with stage I to stage IIIa HCC treated with radical-intent SBRT. Overall, 37.9% of patients achieved 3-year overall survival and 23.5% achieved 5-year overall survival.

Second-Line Cyramza Prolongs OS In Advanced Liver Cancer: Trial Supports Agent For Patients With High Alpha-Fetoprotein Levels
23 January 2019
A recent study shows that treatment with sorafenib (Nexavar) followed by ramucirumab (Cyramza) extends overall survival. Andrew Zhu, MD, of Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center and Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues observed 292 patients with Hepatocellular Carcinoma and high levels of alpha-fetoprotein. At the 7.6-month follow-up, median OS was 29% longer in patients who received ramucirumab. The median duration of therapy was 12 weeks. Potential limitations of REACH-2 include the exclusion of patients with severe liver cirrhosis because of their high risk of mortality independent of cancer, said Ghassan Abou-Alfa, MD, of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.

Doctors Suggested Which Beverage May Protect Against Liver Cancer
23 January 2019
As millions of people world-wide drink coffee and wonder whether it is useful or destructive to your health, researchers have compiled a list of benefits. Coffee has been shown to reduce several health risks. Studies show that people who drink coffee are 80% less likely to develop cirrhosis of the liver and reduces the risk of liver cancer. Coffee contains special antioxidants which prevents oxidative stress to the cells, and this slows the aging process. Coffee has also been shown to reduce the risk of type II diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Healthwell’s New Fund Offers Medicare Patients Living With Hepatocellular Carcinoma A Financial Lifeline
22 January 2019
The HealthWell Foundation, an independent non-profit that provides financial assistance for inadequately insured Americans, has opened a new fund to help Medicare patients who are living with HCC. HealthWell will provide up to $8,000 in copayment or premium assistance to eligible patients. Suzanna Masartis, Executive Director for Community Liver Alliance, commented “Medicare patients living with HCC are particularly hard hit by the financial burden of disease treatment and, often, forgo treatment all together. The CLA applauds the HealthWell Foundation for the launch of the new HCC fund, which clearly addresses an unmet need for these patients.”

Immunicum AB Announces Publication Of Phase I/II Clinical Trial Results Of Ilixadencel In Advanced Hepatocellular Carcinoma In Frontiers In Oncology
21 January 2019
Immunicum AB has published the final data analysis from the exploratory clinical study of ilixadencel in patients with advanced Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC) in the journal, Frontiers in Oncology. In September 2017, the Phase I/II clinical study of 17 patients with unresectable and/or metastatic HCC investigated the safety and tolerability of ilixadencel. Ilixadencel was administered either as a second-line therapy for patients not responding to previous treatment with sorafenib or as a first-line therapy alone or in combination with sorafenib. The results of the study confirmed the safety of ilixadencel as a single treatment, or in combination with sorafenib.

Australian Patient Treated With DC Bead LUMI™, The First Commercially Available Radiopaque Drug-Eluting Bead
21 January 2019
BTG is a global specialist healthcare company, and the creator of the DC Bead LUM treatment. DC Bead LUM is the first commercially available bead which can be loaded with doxorubicin or irinotecan for the local treatment of tumors in patients with Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC). Dr Anthony Wilkinson, BTG Regional Medical Director commented, “Feedback from both physicians and their patients indicate that DC Bead LUMI™ is an important advance in personalized, loco-regional cancer therapy. As a leader in intra-hepatic therapy for HCC, BTG is excited to be able to launch our latest Drug-Eluting Bead product in the Australian market. We anticipate that the enhanced visualization of DC Bead LUMI™ will lead to improved patient outcomes through more accurate delivery.”

Liver Cancer Patients Can Benefit From Hep C Medications: DAA Therapy Was Not Associated With Increased Overall Or Early Hepatocellular Carcinoma Recurrence
20 January 2019
Based on a study conducted by researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center (UTSWMED), disproves the idea that Hepatitis C antiviral medications may lead to a higher recurrence of liver cancer. It was shown that 42 percent of liver cancer survivors who were treated with direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) experienced a recurrence of their liver cancer, compared with 59 percent of patients who were not treated with antivirals. Dr. Amit Singal, Associate Professor of Internal Medicine and Medical Director of the Liver Tumor Program, said, “Based on these new data, providers can feel reassured that it is safe to treat hepatitis C in these patients and allow them to receive the known benefits of hepatitis C therapy.”

Are Response Rates Predictive Of Survival Outcome In HCC?
20 January 2019
The phase III REFLECT trial assessed tumor response using modified RECIST criteria (mRECIST) to predict overall survival in HCC patients. These patients were treated with lenvatinib or sorafenib. Results showed median overall survival in the full study was 13.0 months, with 13.6 months with lenvatinib, 12.3 months with sorafenib. The median overall survival among responders in the full trial was 22.4 months, compared with only 11.4 months in nonresponders.

Celsion Announces Publication Of Thermodox Study Results In Radiology
17 January 2019
Results from the Phase 1 TARADOX trial have published in the journal Radiology. The study evaluated the safety and efficacy of ThermoDox, a heat-activated liposomal encapsulation of doxorubicin, along with focused ultrasound for the treatment of liver cancer. ThermoDox was developed by Celsion Corporation, an oncology drug development company. Researchers evaluated patients with inoperable primary or secondary liver tumors who had previously received chemotherapy. Safety was assessed by analyzing patients’ MRIs.

Abou-Alfa Highlights HCC Advances, Unmet Needs In Other GI Cancers
16 January 2019
Ghassan K. Abou-Alfa, MD. In August 2018 the FDA approved the use of lenvatinib (Lenvima) as a frontline treatment for patients with unresectable HCC. This was due to the positive results from the phase III REFLECT trial which compared it to sorafenib (Nexavar). Nivolumab (Opdivo) has been approved as a second-line treatment, while its potential as a frontline agent is anticipated in the CheckMate-459 trial. Most recently, the FDA approved cabozantinib (Cabometyx) as a treatment for patients with HCC who previously received sorafenib, based on the findings from the phase III CELESTIAL trial. Additionally, ramucirumab (Cyramza) has also been assessed as a potential second-line treatment for those who progress on sorafenib in the phase III REACH-2 trial.

News Of Note — A Startup’s Phase 2 Drug Slows Liver Cancer In Mice
14 January 2019
eFFECTOR has raised more than $110 million since it was founded in 2013 to study a small molecule designed to block two cancer-promoting enzymes. Their Phase 2 drug, eFT508, has been shown to stop liver cancer in mice. Davide Ruggero, Ph.D., a UCSF researcher and co-founder of eFFECTOR, discovered that in mice with liver tumors driven by the genes MYC and KRAS, the drug slashes levels of the immune-suppressing protein PD-L1 in half. The survival rate of the mice improved following the treatment with eFT508.

African-Americans May Live Longer After Liver Transplant If Their Donors Are The Same Race
10 January 2019
A new study found that African-American adults undergoing liver transplant to treat liver cancer lived significantly longer when the organ donor was also African-American. It has been shown that African-American patients with (HCC), have the poorest long-term survival and have worse outcomes after a liver transplant. This study determined that at five years after transplant, 64.2 percent of race-matched patients were still alive compared with 56.9 percent of unmatched patients, and a median overall survival of 135 months versus 78 months.

Physicians’ Education Resource® To Host Symposium On Optimal Care For Patients With Hepatocellular Carcinoma
10 January 2019
In interactive HCC symposium, to be chaired by Alan P. Venook, M.D., FASCO, Madden family distinguished professor of medical oncology and translational research at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) will take place at the ASCO 2019 annual conference. The symposium will also include other scientists discussing clinical issues related to the management of patients with HCC. Physicians’ Education Resource has been dedicated to advancing cancer care since 1995.

Drug Sponge Could Minimize Side Effects Of Cancer Treatment: Absorbent Polymer Sops Up Chemotherapy Drugs From Bloodstream After Treatment
9 January 2019
Doctors are hoping to prevent the dangerous side effects of toxic chemotherapy with the help of sponges that are inserted in the bloodstream to absorb excess drugs. The “drug sponge” is an absorbent polymer coating a cylinder that is 3D printed to fit precisely in a vein that carries the blood flowing out of the target organ. it would soak up any drug that was not absorbed by the tumor, preventing it from reaching and potentially poisoning other organs. Steven Hetts, an interventional radiologist at UC San Francisco and his team of scientists are currently testing the “drug sponge” on a pig liver to determine how much drug is absorbed. Hetts says that the technique is superior to another liver cancer treatment now undergoing testing, which requires major endovascular surgery and involves dialysis.

Phase 3 Trial Explores Cabometyx-Tecentriq Combo Therapy In Advanced Liver Cancer
9 January 2019
Cosmic-312 is a phase 3 clinical trial testing a combination of Cabometyx (cabozantinib) with Tecentriq (atezolizumab) versus Nexavar (sorafenib) in previously untreated patients with advanced Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC). The study will include about 640 patients in almost 200 locations internationally. Tecentriq is a type of therapy called immune checkpoint inhibitor, which works by binding to the PD-L1 protein to block cancer cells from invading the immune system. The aim of this clinical trial is to extend life.

Saffron May Contain Cancer-Beating Properties, UAE Research Finds
7 January 2019
A new research at the UAE University has revealed that a saffron extract called safranal, could have important cancer-beating properties. Ms. Al Mansoori, a master’s degree student at UAEU assisted with the research. She began by injecting carcinogens into live rats. Biochemical tests indicated that safranal stopped the cell cycle in the cancer cells from dividing and multiplying. A team of researchers at New York University Abu Dhabi indicated that safranal could kill human liver cancer cells as well.

Considerations For Using Nivolumab In Advanced HCC
7 January 2019
A discussion surrounding clinical study CheckMate 459, which compares sorafenib to nivolumab. Ghassan K. Abou-Alfa, MD states, “We are very heavily involved with checkpoint inhibitors in HCC [Hepatocellular Carcinoma].” Peter Galle, MD, PhD explains that checkpoint inhibitors are basically a break which, in the end, stops the immune system from overreaction. Riad Salem, MD states brings up the topic of real progression versus pseudoprogression.

Dose Escalation In Liver Cancer Study With ADP-A2AFP (AFP) SPEAR T-Cells
7 January 2019
Adaptimmune Therapeutics is recommending a dose escalation in the ongoing ADP-A2AFP (AFP) study in patients with Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC). During the first cohort, two patients received 100 million transduced SPEAR T-cells and showed no sign of toxicity. Adaptimmune Therapeutics is a leader in T-cell therapy to treat cancer. This is a first-in-human, open-label study including up to 36 patients with escalating target doses of transduced SPEAR T-cells. In the first cohort the dose was 100 million. In the second cohort researchers will use 1 billion, and in the third cohort 1.2-6 billion while evaluating safety.

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