Posts tagged ‘City of Hope’
Hematologist Robert Chen, M.D., is boosting scientific discovery at City of Hope and, by extension, across the nation. Just ask the National Cancer Institute.
The institution recently awarded Chen the much-sought-after Clinical Investigator Team Leadership Award for boosting scientific discovery at City of Hope. He is one of just 11 researchers in the nation this year to receive the prestigious $100,000 grant from the NCI.
Fewer than 60 scientists have been granted the award since its inception five years ago.
The two-year NCI grant recognizes Chen’s exceptional merit as a clinical researcher whose innovative efforts are advancing therapies for lymphoma patients.
Chen, an assistant professor in the Department of Hematology & Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation, specializes in Hodgkin lymphoma research and treatment. His recent leadership of clinical trials testing the drug brentuximab vedotin helped clear its use for treating certain Hodgkin lymphoma patients who don’t respond well to stem cell transplantation. » Continue Reading
Chemotherapy drugs work by either killing cancer cells or by stopping them from multiplying, that is, dividing. Some of the more powerful drugs used to treat cancer do their job by interfering with the cancer cells’ DNA and RNA growth, preventing them from copying themselves and dividing.
Such drugs, however, like Hydroxyurea, do have drawbacks. One is that the body metabolizes them quickly. Patients need frequent doses to achieve the desired effects. Because the side effects of the drugs are already considerable, increased use of them raises the risk of negative reactions. Another drawback is that cancer cells develop rapid resistance to the drugs, reducing their effectiveness.
A team effort
As a physician, molecular pharmacologist Yun Yen, M.D., Ph.D., knows well the limitations of chemotherapy drugs. He partnered with medicinal chemist David Horne, Ph.D., to find — and improve — a molecule, or compound, to overcome these problems.
First, Yen selected a promising anti-cancer compound from the National Cancer Institute’s library of anti-cancer agents. Then, using data obtained with the help of the skilled laboratory scientists in City of Hope’s Core (or “Shared”) Services, Horne began to make structural adjustments to improve the molecule’s effectiveness. Core Services provides researchers, specialized expertise, testing and instrumentation in fields such as molecular modeling, screening, medicinal chemistry and cancer biology. Access to these services enabled Yen and Horne to determine, even before preclinical testing, how the compound worked. » Continue Reading
Cancer that spreads to the liver poses a significant threat to patients, and a great challenge to surgeons. The organ’s anatomical complexity and its maze of blood vessels make removal of tumors difficult, even for specialized liver cancer surgeons. Following chemotherapy, the livers of cancer patients are not optimally healthy. This compromises the power of the residual liver to compensate functionally, postsurgery, and to regenerate over time. Hence, saving as much of the liver as possible is key.
Gagandeep Singh, M.D., has long pursued surgical techniques that would allow for successful removal of tumors. Over time, he devised a technique that incorporated tools normally used in laparoscopy and neurosurgery.
Using this technique in 2012, he operated on Susan Stringfellow, a patient in her 60s, whose colon cancer had metastasized to her liver. Removal of the tumors required resecting almost 75 percent of her liver. In the year following the surgery, the patient’s liver regenerated itself. Encouraged, Singh continued to use the technique, teaching it to his surgical oncology fellows at City of Hope. Close to 200 surgeries later, he had amassed data confirming that the technique reduced the need for blood transfusions and resulted in no biliary leaks.
A new study suggests that the colorectal cancer outlook is more grim than many thought, with the number of cases among young adults actually rising. But the study, which made headlines around the country, might not have the obvious message many consumers think.
Donald David, M.D., chief of gastroenterology at City of Hope, says some of the statistics might be linked to detection bias.
First, some context: Colorectal cancer cases and related deaths have been steadily declining in the United States for the past couple of decades. Chalk that up to improvements in prevention, screening and treatment. But the new research found that not only is colorectal cancer rising in young adults, it will probably continue to rise over the next 15 years. » Continue Reading
Patients faced with a cancer diagnosis have a lot to take in. It’s no surprise that many need help airing their concerns to their care teams. That’s why a City of Hope team developed SupportScreen, to enable patients to communicate their needs better.
Last week, the tablet-based app hit an important milestone, screening its 10,000th patient.
The achievement comes at an important time, as new accreditation standards go into effect in January 2015 from two important organizations charged with evaluating cancer care providers — the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer and the American Society of Clinical Oncology. The standards focus on screening for psychosocial distress, unmet needs and other psychosocial barriers to care, which SupportScreen was designed to address.
Among bone marrow and stem cell transplant programs, one measure of quality stands out: accreditation by the Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy, or FACT. Now, City of Hope’s program has received a full three-year accreditation from FACT — its fourth since first applying in 2004.
The accreditation — which is now required by many insurance payors — applies to all City of Hope services and facilities inspected by FACT. These include adult and pediatric autologous (self-donated) and allogeneic (donor-derived) blood stem cell transplantation, bone marrow and peripheral blood cellular therapy product collection, and cellular therapy product processing.
Eileen Smith, M.D., associate director of clinical research in the Department of Hematology & Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation (HCT), says that FACT “is the most important accreditation for transplant programs in the U.S.” She helped oversee the accreditation process in collaboration with David Snyder, M.D., director of quality management for the HCT Program.
“FACT accreditation is similar to Joint Commission accreditation — it gives patients, payors and referring physicians confidence that we’re among the top centers in the country,” Smith said. » Continue Reading
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.
Brain tumors are exceptionally difficult to treat. They can be removed surgically, but individual cancer cells may have already spread elsewhere in the brain and can escape the effects of both radiation and chemotherapy. To prevent tumors from recurring, doctors need a way to find and stop those invasive cancer cells. Researchers at City of Hope think a special type of cell, known as a neural stem cell, could be the answer. Neural stem cells – known for their ability to become any type of cell in the nervous system — not only are attracted to cancer cells, they have the ability to deliver drugs directly to the tumor sites, sparing healthy tissues and minimizing side effects.
A drive to bring discovery to patients
As a researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital and Children’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Karen Aboody, M.D., discovered the natural ability of neural stem cells to target cancer cells in the brain. Her pioneering work helped to establish a new field of cancer treatment, one that uses neural stem cells to deliver drugs or other therapies directly to tumor sites. » Continue Reading
Although chemotherapy can be effective in treating cancer, it can also exact a heavy toll on a patient’s health. One impressive alternative researchers have found is in the form of a vaccine. A type of immunotherapy, one part of the vaccine primes the body to react strongly against a tumor; the second part directly attacks the tumor itself. This double-pronged approach could be both more powerful against cancer and far less toxic to the body than traditional chemotherapy.
Don J. Diamond, Ph.D., director of the Division of Translational Vaccine Research, developed the anti-cancer vaccine in his lab with former colleague Joshua D.I. Ellenhorn, M.D. The vaccine consists of two parts: a vector, or carrier, virus, and an active agent that does the work. The carrier is a well-known, modified smallpox virus often used in research. The active agent — the real powerhouse in the vaccine — is the gene p53. Normally, p53 suppresses tumor growth. But in many cancer patients, the gene is mutated, allowing cancers to grow. The vaccine is designed to deliver normal, nonmutated versions of the gene to the body. » Continue Reading
Rob Darakjian was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at just 19 years old. He began chemotherapy and was in and out of the hospital for four months. After his fourth round of treatment, he received a bone marrow transplantation from an anonymous donor. Today, he’s cancer free.
In his first post, he shared his story and explained what NOT to do when you’re depressed and have cancer. In his second post, he explained what cancer patients SHOULD do if they’re depressed. Here, he offers seven tips on how patients can confront cancer and anxiety.
How to ease anxiety:
Listen, watch: I find this technique to be particularly helpful when I’m experiencing anxiety at almost any level. I call it “listen, watch” because that’s what I do: I try and place myself in the present moment by paying attention to what I can see and what I can hear. Try to pick up on everything you can hear, from your own breathing, to the faint sound of conversation somewhere outside. Then, after awhile turn to a different sense, say sight, and just look around your physical environment. » Continue Reading