“One day I had a pain in my side and ended up having my appendix rupture. During that time of the appendix rupturing, they discovered I had a large tumor covering most of my kidney,” said Joelle Hood, a learning center principal and a certified life coach.
Hood’s doctor referred her to City of Hope, where she met urologic oncology specialist Clayton Lau, M.D., an assistant clinical professor. They discussed the best treatment option for her cancer and took it day by day from there.
Cancers thrive and spread in part because of their ability to create fortresses around themselves that ward off the body’s natural immune defenses, a so-called immunosuppressive microenvironment.
Although a healthy body’s defenses against cancer and infection are driven by T cells that recognize and destroy foreign intruders, the environment created by cancer tumors often prevents this system from working. A new City of Hope study may ultimately provide a way to overcome this challenge to T cells.
City of Hope scientists had long established that the protein STAT3 regulates a large array of genes in tumor cells, including those related to immunosuppression. Their new study, published this month in the journal Cell Reports, sheds light on how STAT3 interacts with another key protein, known as S1PR1, to regulate T cells that suppress the immune system. Those T cells are known as regulatory T cells, or Tregs.
“This has many therapeutic implications,” said Saul Priceman, Ph.D., an assistant research professor at City of Hope and the study’s first author. “This could be helpful across the board for solid cancers in combination with other immunotherapies. In most solid cancers, these proteins are blocking the immune system from killing the tumor. Our new findings suggest that by selectively targeting S1PR1, we can put the brakes on T cells that prevent the immune system from effectively attacking the tumor.” » Continue Reading
For the past 20 years, the death rate for colorectal cancer has been dropping for both men and women. That decline can be traced to a number of factors, including advanced screening techniques, new drugs and improved surgical and medical treatments.
As a result, the United States now has more than 1 million survivors of colorectal cancer. But even with all these advancements, the American Cancer Society estimates there will be more than 136,000 new cases of colorectal cancer in the United States this year and that approximately 50,000 patients will die from this disease.
Here, Stephen M. Sentovich, M.D., M.B.A., clinical professor of surgery at City of Hope, explains the risk factors for colorectal cancer and what advancements to expect in the near future.
Who is most at risk for colorectal cancer?
In the U.S., we are all at risk of colon and rectal cancer. Colon and rectal cancer is the third most-common cancer and second most-common cause of death from cancer.
Colon and rectal cancer can occur at any age, but the incidence increases as we age, particularly as we get over 50 years of age. For both men and women here in the U.S., the lifetime chance of getting colon and rectal cancer is about 5 percent. In some families, the risk is much higher due to genetic risk factors. » Continue Reading
A phase I clinical trial led by researchers at City of Hope has demonstrated the promise of a new drug combination for women with triple-negative breast cancer.
This type of breast cancer doesn’t produce any of the three proteins that common cancer therapies target — the identifying characteristic that gives it its name, and which makes it especially difficult to treat. The trial, led by Jeffrey Weitzel, M.D., and George Somlo, M.D., both professors of medical oncology and therapeutics research, tests the common drug carboplatin in combination with a novel targeted therapy called a PARP inhibitor. » Continue Reading
In this series – this part explores the search for innovative new therapies – we explore crucial strides made against women’s cancers by City of Hope researchers during the past year. The projects are many and varied, involving the basics of fighting cancer, analyses of who’s at greatest risk, the search for surprising new therapies, the testing of new treatments and the follow-up with survivors and their partners.
Sophisticated technology for targeted treatment
This year, John C. Williams, Ph.D., associate professor of molecular medicine, published research in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on his advances in developing meditope technology.
These engineered peptides “fit” into antibodies, much like a lock and key, making it possible to selectively deliver material to cancer cells. This research also earned prestigious funding from the W.M. Keck Foundation, which will help Williams and his team advance its applications. This includes the recent development of several new meditopes that have the ability to attach to therapeutic antibodies for several different forms of cancer, including breast cancer.
Williams also continues to work with Jinha Park, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of diagnostic radiology, to design meditopes to bind specifically to novel HER2 antibodies that attack HER2 breast cancer. Their work is critical, since it provides a new, more targeted treatment for this aggressive, hard-to-treat form of breast cancer. » Continue Reading
Each study plays a role. Each adds to what we know about cancer. Each brings us closer to cures.
In Part 1, we explained ways in which researchers are seeking to fight cancer through basic science.
Part 2: Studies of risk and prevention
Addressing risk among Latinas
Jeffrey Weitzel, M.D., director of the Division of Clinical Cancer Genetics, has focused much of his research on understanding the role and prevalence of BRCA mutations in the Latin American population. Specific mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes increase the risk of breast and ovarian cancers. » Continue Reading
In this series, we explore crucial strides made against women’s cancers by City of Hope researchers during the past year. The projects are many and varied, involving the basics of fighting cancer, analyses of who’s at greatest risk, the search for surprising new therapies, the testing of new treatments and the follow-up with survivors and their partners.
Advances in immunotherapy
Peter P. Lee, M.D., chair of cancer immunotherapeutics and tumor immunology at City of Hope, is pursuing several projects that are part of a what he calls integrated immunotherapy. This concept advances the idea that effective cancer treatment must address each phase or action of the body’s complex immune system. » Continue Reading
If the new recommendations of a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory panel are widely adopted, HPV testing eventually may replace the Pap test as the primary way to detect cervical cancer. City of Hope cervical cancer expert says the recommendations have merit.
The Pap test – named for its inventor, pathologist George Papanicolaou – is designed to identify cancers and precancers in the cervix, and has been the standard screening for cervical cancer during the past 60 years. The screening is credited with dramatically lowering death rates.
The new test, developed by Roche Molecular Systems, detects HPV’s DNA. HPV, or human papillomavirus, is now known to cause nearly all cervical cancer cases.
The 13 academic gynecologists, pathologists and microbiologists on the FDA’s Medical Devices Advisory Committee Microbiology Panel unanimously concluded that the Roche test is safe and effective as a first-line screening for cervical cancer. It reviewed data from the ATHENA trial, which included more than 47,000 women. » Continue Reading
The findings were published online in advance of print recently in the journal Cancer. In the study, the researchers analyzed more than 41,000 cases of thyroid cancer among teens and young adults (up to 39 years old). Approximately 3 percent of those cases were secondary thyroid cancers.
After controlling for other factors — including demographics, stage of cancer upon diagnosis and how it was treated — the authors found that people with secondary thyroid cancers are 6.6 times more likely to die of the disease compared to those with primary thyroid cancers.
That statistic may sound alarming, but John Yim, M.D., associate professor and surgeon in City of Hope’s Division of Surgical Oncology, said that, overall, thyroid cancer prognoses are very good. » Continue Reading