Posts tagged ‘cancer research’


Why don’t cancer cells starve to death? Researcher aims to find out

December 17, 2014 | by

Cancer cells are voracious eaters. Like a swarm of locusts, they devour every edible tidbit they can find. But unlike locusts, when the food is gone, cancer cells can’t just move on to the next horn o’ plenty. They have to survive until more food shows up — and they do.

cancer cells

City of Hope researcher Mei Kong has received a $1.7 million National Cancer Institute grant to understand how cancer cells avoid starvation during their self-caused famines.

Mei Kong, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Cancer Biology, recently received $1.7 million from the National Cancer Institute to understand how cancerous cells survive their self-imposed famines.

Glutamine is an essential form of food for cancer cells. The amino acid provides the energy the cells need to survive and multiply. But malignant cells are gluttons and grow so rapidly they run through the glutamine stores, leaving themselves without their nutrition source. Although this should cause the cells to starve to death, it doesn’t.

Kong is working to uncover the tricks cancer cells use to stifle their hunger until the famine again turns to feast. So far she and her colleagues have found several proteins and molecular pathways involved in the process. The current grant will help them extend their studies, furthering our investment in scientific discovery to uncover possible new cancer therapies.

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Walk for Hope: Thousands come together to help cure women’s cancers

November 2, 2014 | by
Walk for Hope

Nearly 8,000 people walk to help end women’s cancers at the 18th annual Walk for Hope. (Photo by Dominique Grignetti)

Thousands gathered at City of Hope on Sunday, Nov. 2, to participate in the 18th annual Walk for Hope, a unique event that raises money for, and awareness of, women’s cancers.

Together participants cheered, supported, honored and commemorated those who have been affected by breast and gynecologic cancers. With more than 600 survivors in attendance, the impact of City of Hope’s research and care was evident to all.

Walk for Hope is the only walk series that benefits research, treatment and education programs for all cancers unique to women, and all funds raised support City of Hope’s Women’s Cancers Program.

Most special about the walk is that it celebrates the collaboration between researchers, patients and the community to end women’s cancers. Further, it’s the only walk held on the grounds of an institution where the research occurs and where the care is delivered. Participants not only walked by buildings where the breakthroughs of tomorrow will be discovered, they walked by City of Hope Helford Clinical Research Hospital, waving to (and receiving waves from) patients watching from the windows.

“City of Hope’s specialized treatment of cancer, greater understanding of the causes of cancer and the research into survivorship after cancer have all been made possible by your support,” said Alexandra Levine, M.D., M.A.C.P., chief medical officer at City of Hope,  addressing the crowd. “You help us with our research, and our research helps the world.”

Beverly Austin, a 16-year breast  cancer survivor, shared her story during the opening ceremony, highlighting the community’s support and City of Hope’s care. “Because of people like you, I’m here today,” she said.

And because of people like Austin, every year, City of Hope hosts Walk for Hope so that we can one day live in a world without women’s cancers.

Team name: Fight Like Mami Chela at City of Hope's Walk for Hope

The “Fight Like Mami Chela” team joins thousands of other Walk for Hope participants to help find cures for women’s cancers.  (Photo by Dominique Grignetti)

Walk for Hope

Breast cancer patient Becky Stokes, shown here at the 18th annual Walk for Hope, celebrates a milestone. (Photo by Dominique Grignetti)


Join the fight to fund cancer research

September 17, 2014 | by

Cancer research has yielded scientific breakthroughs that offer patients more options, more hope for survival and a higher quality of life than ever before.

City of Hope supports the Rally for Medical Research on Capitol Hill this week, which urges lawmakers to make funding medical research a high priority.

City of Hope supports the Rally for Medical Research on Capitol Hill this week, which urges lawmakers to make funding medical research a high priority.

The 14.5 million cancer patients living in the United States are living proof that cancer research saves lives. Now, in addition to the clinic, hospital and laboratory, there is another front for the fight against cancer: The battle for funding to keep this research ongoing.

City of Hope joins the American Association for Cancer Research in support of the Rally for Medical Research on Capitol Hill on Thursday, Sept. 18. Hundreds of organizations and individuals – comprehensive cancer centers, research advocacy groups, clinicians, business leaders, survivors and others – are joining the call to members of Congress to make funding for the National Institutes of Health a priority and stop the chronic decline of public funding for science.
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AACR report: Now is the time to invest in cancer research

September 16, 2014 | by

Advances in cancer treatment, built on discoveries made in the laboratory then brought to the bedside, have phenomenally changed the reality of living with a cancer diagnosis. More than any other time in history, people diagnosed with cancer are more likely to survive and to enjoy a high quality of life.

Scientist in laboratory

With new drugs approved and new scientific breakthroughs, the chances of surviving cancer have never been higher. Now is the time to keep investing in cancer research.

However, much work remains to be done. On average, one American will die of cancer every minute of every day this year, according to the American Association for Cancer Research, which today released its annual Cancer Progress Report.  Following a year that saw six new cancer drugs approved, an estimated 14.5 million cancer survivors living in the United States, and considerable research breakthroughs, now is the time to continue fueling lifesaving cancer research through investment in the National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute and other organizations and agencies devoted to cancer research.

While gains in cancer research have been impressive, the pace of progress has been slowed due to years of budget cuts at the NIH and NCI.

“Incredible strides have been made in advancing our understanding, enhancing prevention and improving therapy of cancer,” said Steven Rosen, M.D., provost and chief scientific officer at City of Hope and director of the Comprehensive Cancer Center. “To maintain momentum with the ultimate goal of maximizing cure of these devastating diseases, the necessary funds must be available.”

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Immunotherapy trials use viruses to teach immune cells to fight lymphoma

August 27, 2014 | by

Hijacking the same sorts of viruses that cause HIV and using them to reprogram immune cells to fight cancer sounds like stuff of the future.

virus, antibodies and t-cells

Immunotherapy research at City of Hope is using viruses to program a patient’s own immune cells to fight lymphoma.

Some scientists believe that the future is closer than we think – and are now studying the approach in clinical trials at City of Hope. Immunotherapy is a promising approach for cancer treatment, and while the science is quickly advancing, the idea isn’t exactly new.

In the late 1800s – before much was known about the immune system – William Coley, M.D., a New York surgeon, noticed that getting an infection after surgery actually helped some cancer patients. So he began infecting them with certain bacteria, with positive results.

Today, doctors continue to seek ways to harness the immune system to fight disease. City of Hope researchers are examining immunotherapy techniques to treat some of the toughest cancers including gliomas, ovarian cancer and hematologic cancers. One especially promising approach is called adoptive T cell therapy.

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Aspirin might reduce risk of breast cancer recurrence for obese women

August 20, 2014 | by

An aspirin a day might help keep breast cancer away for some breast cancer survivors, a new study suggests.

Aspirin closeup

A new study indicates that aspirin and similar painkillers could reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence in obese and overweight women. More research is warranted, experts say.

Obese women who have had breast cancer could cut their risk of a recurrence in half if they regularly take aspirin or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, called NSAIDs, report researchers from the University of Texas in Austin. The results of the NSAIDS study were published recently in the journal Cancer Research.

A City of Hope expert says the researchers’ conclusion makes sense. Leslie Bernstein, Ph.D., R.N., director of the Division of Etiology at City of Hope, said the study echoes some of the findings of her own research on obesity. » Continue Reading


Breast cancer risk linked to birth control pills, but no need to panic

August 5, 2014 | by

Women using some birth control pills, specifically those with high doses of estrogen and a few other formulations, may be at an increased risk of breast cancer, a new study has found. At first glance, the findings seem alarming, but a City of Hope breast cancer surgeon is warning against overreaction.

Birth control pills

A new study links some birth control pills to higher breast cancer risk, but study leaders and experts say more research is needed.

The study, published recently  in the journal Cancer Research and led by researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, compared women who used oral contraceptives in the past year to those who never used them or who had formerly used them. However, the researchers acknowledged, their findings should be interpreted very carefully.

“Our results require confirmation and should be interpreted cautiously,” said study researcher Elisabeth F. Beaber, Ph.D., M.P.H., in a statement released by the journal. “Breast cancer is rare among young women and there are numerous established health benefits associated with oral contraceptive use that must be considered. In addition, prior studies suggest that the increased risk associated with recent oral contraceptive use declines after stopping oral contraceptives.” » Continue Reading


Research, plus newest techniques, improves treatment of prostate cancer

July 28, 2014 | by

Counter-intuitive though it might seem, a prostate cancer diagnosis shouldn’t always lead to immediate prostate cancer treatment.

prostate cancer

Men with prostate cancer face difficult and often complicated choices in how to proceed with their medical care. It’s more important now than ever to find doctors with the expertise to know when to pursue aggressive treatment and when to manage with active surveillance.

Although prostate cancer is the second-leading cancer killer of men, behind lung cancer, and causes more than 29,000 deaths in the U.S. each year, in many cases, the tumors are small, slow-growing and confined. That means that most prostate cancer tumors might not automatically warrant medical intervention.

“Active surveillance,” in which physicians closely monitor patients so they can identify early signs of disease progression, is emerging as the best course of action for many men with prostate cancer. The strategy enables doctors to treat cancer before it becomes a serious threat, while avoiding unnecessary risk by treating tumors unlikely to spread. » Continue Reading


Meditopes: Hitching cancer drugs to antibodies (w/VIDEO)

July 1, 2014 | by


Scientists have long searched for ways to bolster the immune system to fight diseases that seem to evade it, including cancer.

City of Hope scientists discovered what they call a meditope, an opening in the center of an antibody and a peptide that fits neatly into it, creating the perfect "hitch" that allows medicines to be attached to the antibodies for delivery to tumor sites.

City of Hope scientists discovered what they call a meditope, an opening in the center of an antibody and a peptide that fits neatly into it, creating the perfect “hitch” that allows medicines to be attached to the antibodies for delivery to tumor sites.

Many have focused on monoclonal antibodies, trying to use them as trucks to drop off payloads of drugs right at the site of an infection or tumor. The problem, however, has been welding the payload to the truck. While analyzing the structure of these antibodies, City of Hope scientists discovered a “hitch” – a hole in the center of the antibody’s structure, and a peptide that fits cleanly and easily into it.

This universal “hitch” – named a meditope by John C. Williams, Ph.D., and his research team that discovered it – has the potential to arm the immune system against cancer as well as other diseases.

Williams says his team is still exploring the applications but that the discovery has the potential to dramatically change oncology, radiology and other disciplines. Because the peptide can easily link to therapeutic molecules and hitch them to antibodies, the use for meditopes goes beyond cancer. Some of the diseases Williams and his team have considered so far include rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease and macular degeneration.

This video explains how Williams and his team discovered the meditope.


Meet our doctors: M. Houman Fekrazad on a potential chemotherapy patch

June 21, 2014 | by

Chemotherapy is a major tool in the fight against cancer. This method of using drugs to destroy cancer cells has successfully treated many patients. Yet while chemotherapy has been proven to effectively attack cancer cells, it can cause serious side effects that can severely impact a patient’s quality of life.

Dr. Fekrazad says a chemo patch may help decrease side effects for patients.

Medical oncologist M. Houman Fekrazad is developing a chemotherapy patch that he believes will reduce side effects for cancer patients.

Here M. Houman Fekrazad, M.D., an associate clinical professor of medical oncology at City of Hope | Antelope Valley, discusses ongoing research, including a new chemotherapy patch he is currently developing. Such research has considerable promise not only to increase chemotherapy’s efficacy, but to reduce the toxic side effects that often accompany this form of treatment.

How does chemotherapy work? Chemotherapy works by stopping or slowing the growth of cancer cells. At the same time, it can damage normal healthy cells of the human body, such as those in the bone marrow, liver, kidney, nerves, hair or the lining of your mouth and intestines. Damage to healthy cells may cause side effects. Most are temporary while the patient is on treatment. However, long-term side effects of chemotherapy need to be discussed with patients prior to initiating therapy.

You own a patent on a patch that can deliver chemotherapy through the skin. Can you tell us more? Sure. By today’s standards, there has only been two ways to administer anti-cancer drugs – intravenously (IV) and orally. In this project (which is still in the planning stages), we aim to put chemotherapy into nanoparticles and then pass it through the skin. The chemotherapy will then be released in the bloodstream to target the cancer cells. There are several issues that can potentially be eliminated when chemotherapy is administered through the skin. For example: » Continue Reading