Research


The future of colorectal cancer screening? It might be in your DNA

March 4, 2015 | by

We’ve all heard the mantra: Cancer screening saves lives. And it does, especially with colorectal cancer.

DNA tests for colorectal cancer

A new colorectal screening that tests stool for DNA may persuade some colonoscopy-phobic people to be screened. It doesn’t detect all polyps, but as Dr. James Lin points out: “The best colon cancer screening test is the one the patient is using.”

Regular colonoscopies have been proven to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer death by up to 70 percent. Screening for colorectal cancer using the even simpler fecal occult blood tests has been found to reduce the risk of death by up to 33 percent.

Yet, despite the proven benefits of colorectal cancer screening, many people still put it off – or skip it altogether. To raise awareness of the very real need for colorectal cancer screening, March has been deemed Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.

The American Cancer Society estimates there will be more than 132,700 new cases of colorectal cancer in the United States this year and that approximately 49,700 patients will die from this disease.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force currently recommends that adults begin colorectal cancer screening at age 50 and continue until they are 75 years old. Depending on which test is used, screening only need happen as little as once every 10 years.

New screening and prevention tools for colorectal cancer continue to evolve. In August of 2014, the Food and Drug Administration approved a new DNA stool test that can be used to screen for colorectal cancer.

» Continue Reading


Cancer Insights: The potential of CAR-T cells to fight prostate cancer

March 3, 2015 | by

Pick up any biotech industry report and you’re guaranteed to come across one term repeatedly – CAR-T therapy. A fierce competition is now underway to bring CAR-T treatments to market – several companies (Juno, Novartis, Kite and Cellectis, to name a few) have major stakes in the race. I’ve found the CAR-T buzz has also penetrated the clinic — not a day goes by that I don’t have a conversation with a patient regarding this emerging technology.

Sumanta Pal, M.D.

Sumanta Kumar Pal explains the potential of CAR-T cell therapies for prostate cancer.

So what is CAR-T? Essentially, it’s an engineered immune cell (called a T cell) that has on its surface a highly specific protein called a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR). These “souped up” immune cells can mount a potent and highly specific attack against tumors.

Last year, a group of researchers from the University of Pennsylvania published results in the New England Journal of Medicine pertaining to 30 patients who had received CAR-T therapies. These patients were suffering from a relapse of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and had failed standard treatments. The results were nothing short of remarkable – at six months following treatment, roughly two-thirds of patients remained free of disease.

These findings were a phenomenal leap forward for patients with this relatively rare disorder. A couple of roadblocks stand in the way of further development of CAR-T cells, however. » Continue Reading


Celebrating the Lunar New Year: City of Hope charges forward

February 26, 2015 | by
City of Hope Patients and physicians welcomed the New Year of the Ram in L.A.'s annual Chinese New Year parade

City of Hope patients and physicians welcome the New Year of the Ram in L.A.’s annual Lunar New Year parade

To celebrate the beginning of Lunar New  Year 2015, City of Hope honored not just a new lunar calendar, but also the diversity of the community it serves.

On Jan. 21, as tens of thousands of people celebrated Lunar New Year (and the arrival of the Year of the Ram) in the streets of L.A.’s Chinatown, City of Hope did so as well – with its own ram’s head-bedecked float. Riding atop the float were two City of Hope patients and their families, as well as three City of Hope physicians.

Jerry Wang, a gastric cancer survivor was joined by his wife, Sharon, who works at City of Hope, and their twins Ellie and Marcus. Yan Hou, who says her journey with breast cancer inspires her continuing volunteer work at City of Hope, rode with her husband, John Wang.

Celebrating with them were City of Hope physicians Michael Lew, M.D., clinical professor and chair, Department of Anesthesiology; Helen Chen, M.D., a radiation oncologist; and Yuman Fong, M.D.,  professor and chair of the Department of Surgery and associate director for international relations.

City of Hope has a long history of research that benefits diverse populations, especially those in its neighboring communities. Through its services – including in-language materials, translators and a dedicated Chinese website – City of Hope supports patients and their families as they battle cancer. In 2014, City of Hope launched its International Medicine Program, focusing its efforts initially on patients seeking care from China.

Through its float in the annual Golden Dragon Parade, sponsored by the Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Los Angeles, as well as celebrations on the Duarte campus and at its community practice locations across Southern California, City of Hope celebrated not just Lunar New Year 2015, but the very community to which it is so committed.

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Visit our Chinese-language website.

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Learn more about becoming a patient or getting a second opinion at City of Hope by visiting our website or by calling 800-826-HOPE (4673). You may also request a new patient appointment online. City of Hope staff will explain what’s required for a consult at City of Hope and help you determine, before you come in, whether or not your insurance will pay for the appointment.

 


Charlie Rose: Experts talk of cancer breakthroughs and ‘tyranny of time’

February 26, 2015 | by
Charlie Rose

Charlie Rose interviews, from left, City of Hope’s Stephen J. Forman, Steven T. Rosen and City of Hope President and CEO Robert W. Stone.

The breakthroughs that have revolutionized cancer treatment, transforming cancer in many cases to a very manageable and even curable disease, started out as just ideas.

“I will often tell patients there’s no therapy we’re using to help them that wasn’t derived from somebody’s idea in some laboratory, working late into the night,” said Stephen J. Forman, M.D., Francis & Kathleen McNamara Distinguished Chair in Hematology and Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation at City of Hope. “There’s a challenge, I think, maintaining a certain level of funding so that all good ideas get a chance to see if they’re going to help someone.”

The commitment to that ingenuity, along with the ability to seamlessly and safely bring those ideas from the laboratory to the patient, are what set City of Hope apart. The challenges in translating medicine into practical benefit, the future of precision medicine, how the field of cancer treatment has evolved and the role of 101-year-old City of Hope were the topics recently on “Charlie Rose,” a nationally syndicated show on PBS and Bloomberg television.

City of Hope President and Chief Executive Officer Robert W. Stone, Provost and Chief Scientific Officer Steven T. Rosen, M.D., and Forman sat down with Rose in an interview that aired Feb. 25. » Continue Reading


To screen for PSA or not …? Study links ‘not’ to higher-risk cancer

February 26, 2015 | by
New research led by City of Hope researcher Timothy Schultheiss, Ph.D., found US Preventive Services Task Force recommendations against the PSA test may have prompted an increase in higher-risks prostate cancer.

New research led by City of Hope researcher Timothy Schultheiss found that U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendations against the PSA test may be linked to an increase in higher-risk prostate cancer.

The prostate cancer screening debate, at least as it relates to regular assessment of prostate specific antigen levels, is far from over.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended against routine PSA screening for prostate cancer in 2012, maintaining that the routine use of the PSA blood test does more harm than good, threatening men’s quality of life. Many doctors and other medical professionals, however, never accepted this recommendation as prudent. They’ve continued to debate, or argue, the benefits and risks of regular prostate cancer screening.

A new study, led by Timothy E. Schultheiss, Ph.D, professor and chief of radiation physics at City of Hope, will add data fuel to the debate fire. In findings presented this week at the 2015 Genitourinary Cancers Symposium in Orlando, Florida, Schultheiss reports that the recommendations against PSA screening for prostate cancer may have led to an increase in higher-risk prostate cancer.

Schultheiss and his colleagues analyzed data on nearly 87,500 men treated for prostate cancer since 2005 and found a 6 percent increase in intermediate and higher-risk cases of the disease between 2011 and 2013. They estimated that the suggested trend could produce an additional 1,400 prostate cancer deaths annually.

» Continue Reading


How to create a village for hospital patients (or, the Ilana Massi story)

February 24, 2015 | by
Ilana Massi and her supporters

City of Hope patient Ilana Massi has created a village of supporters, one that gives her a “collective hug” when she needs it.

Don’t know what to take, or send, that friend of yours in the hospital? Try a paper plate — filled not with cookies or sweets, but an image of yourself.

Ilana Massi, currently undergoing treatment at City of Hope for acute myeloid leukemia, can vouch for the power of such a gift. She’s surrounded herself with paper plate images of her family, friends, co-workers, even a few pets.

“You wake up in the middle of the night, and you look around —  and you really feel like your support group is giving you a collective hug,” Massi said recently from her room at City of Hope Helford Clinical Research Hospital, only a few days after undergoing a hematopoietic stem cell transplant at City of Hope.

For Massi, the collective hug began when she was in the intensive care unit of another hospital for five weeks. “Some of my friends came to visit, and I didn’t even know they were there — I was too sick to receive visitors,” she says.

» Continue Reading


ORIEN network will accelerate data exchange – and new cancer therapies

February 23, 2015 | by

With precision medicine now a national priority, City of Hope has joined a novel research partnership designed to further understanding of cancer at the molecular level, ultimately leading to more targeted cancer treatments.

precision medicine

City of Hope has joined ORIEN, the world’s largest cancer research collaboration devoted to precision medicine.

The Oncology Research Information Exchange Network, or ORIEN, is the world’s largest precision collaboration for cancer research, one that will enable researchers and clinicians to share data to accelerate the development of precision medicine treatments. This will allow patients to be more quickly matched to potentially lifesaving clinical trials, even as it leads to larger and richer analyses of data for research purposes.

ORIEN is anchored by the Moffitt Cancer Center and the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richaed J. Solove Research Institute. City of Hope joins the network at the same time as University of Virginia Cancer Center, University of Colorado Cancer Center and University of New Mexico Cancer Center, expanding the oncology network from coast to coast. » Continue Reading


New screening panel could target BRCA mutations common to Hispanic women

February 19, 2015 | by

Although many Hispanic women face a high risk of mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes – increasing their risk of breast and ovarian cancer – screenings for these mutations can be prohibitively expensive in Mexico and other Latin American countries. As a result, too many women don’t get the information they need to make informed health choices.

BRCA gene mutations in Hispanic women

Many Hispanic women carry specific mutations in the BRCA genes. Now City of Hope researchers have developed a panel that could  spot  these BRCA mutations, helping them make more informed decisions.

City of Hope researchers may have found a solution to this problem: testing for the specific mutations most common in women of Hispanic descent.

In findings reported in Cancer, the journal of the American Cancer Society, researchers reported that they were able to detect 68 percent of all BRCA mutations in a recent study’s participants by using a HISPANEL – a test panel developed by Jeffrey Weitzel, M.D., director of the Division of Clinical Cancer Genetics at City of Hope. Further, by focusing on these specific mutations, rather than the full range of all possible BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations, the cost of testing amounted to only 2 percent of the cost of testing for all BRCA mutations. » Continue Reading


Powered by philanthropy: Bold science, better cancer treatments

February 17, 2015 | by
Impact of cancer research

At City of Hope, the breakthroughs discovered here are shared with cancer researchers, clinicians and patients worldwide.

At City of Hope, innovative scientific research, important clinical studies and vital construction projects are all powered by philanthropy. Generous supporters fuel a powerful and diverse range of progress in science and medicine, enabling researchers and clinicians to improve cancer treatments and create cures not just for cancer, but also for diabetes and other life-threatening illnesses.

Take a look at what City of Hope supporters have helped build, launch and create over the past year:

Improving care through science

Innovative approaches: In 2014, John Williams, Ph.D., associate professor of molecular medicine, pushed ahead in his research on meditope technology. As described in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, these engineered peptides “fit” into antibodies, much like a lock and key, making it possible to selectively deliver material to cancer cells.

This research has already earned funding from the prestigious W. M. Keck Foundation, which is helping Williams’ team advance its applications. Those include the recent development of several new meditopes that can be attached to therapeutic antibodies targeting several different forms of cancer, including breast cancer. » Continue Reading


Measles and cancer: What you should know

February 13, 2015 | by

With measles, what starts at a theme park in California definitely doesn’t stay at a theme park in California. Since the beginning of the current measles outbreak – traced to an initial exposure at Disneyland or Disney California Adventure during December – more than 100 people have been diagnosed with a disease wrongly considered to have been vanquished.

Measles and cancer

Cancer patients can’t be vaccinated against the measles virus (depicted in illustration). They must rely on members of their community to keep them safe.

The all-but-forgotten hallmark of childhood is now rippling across the country – with people from New York to Washington, Arizona to Georgia, affected. Beyond fever, cough, red eyes, runny nose and the signature red rash, the disease can lead to ear infections, diarrhea and, in more severe cases, pneumonia, encephalitis and death. One or two of every 1,000 children who develop the disease die from it.

To say the disease is highly contagious would be an understatement. Every new diagnosis makes clear what can happen in a population largely unexposed to measles, with a spotty vaccination record against it. But much remains unknown, including how worried cancer patients should be.

Bernard Tegtmeier, Ph.D., a clinical microbiologist and an expert in the spread of infectious diseases, offered some perspective in this interview. » Continue Reading