Posts tagged ‘City of Hope’


Made in City of Hope: A comprehensive approach to curing diabetes

November 28, 2014 | by

Diabetes affects nearly every organ in the body. In type 1 diabetes (previously called juvenile onset, or insulin-dependent, diabetes), its cause, and potentially its cure, can be found in the pancreas — home to islet cells which produce insulin, the hormone that enables the body to process sugar.

Fouad Kandeel, M.D., Ph.D.

Fouad Kandeel was instrumental in launching City of Hope’s Islet Cell Transplantation Program. He has pursued the safest and most effective methods of transplantation — using islet cells from donors — a far simpler procedure than transplantation of an entire pancreas.

In people with type 1 diabetes — a lifelong condition — the body’s immune system attacks and kills the islet cells. Patients must inject themselves with insulin to control their blood sugar (known as glucose). Transplantation of healthy insulin-producing islet cells is the first step on the path to freedom from this constant struggle.

A leader in the field

Fouad Kandeel, M.D., Ph.D, chair of the Department of Clinical Diabetes, Endocrinology & Metabolism, was instrumental in launching City of Hope’s Islet Cell Transplantation Program. Since leading the first transplantation in 2004, he has pursued the safest and most effective methods of transplantation — using islet cells from donors — a far simpler procedure than transplantation of an entire pancreas.

As Kandeel works to perfect the protocols, or rules, for islet cell transplantation, he’s also working with other researchers and clinicians at City of Hope to create a comprehensive — potentially conclusive — approach to curing diabetes. » Continue Reading


3 tips for controlling heartburn during the holidays

November 27, 2014 | by

The holiday season has arrived and, with it, a celebration of food. Chocolate, butter cookies, stuffing, pies, smoked meat – all are holiday staples. All are also the perfect recipe for heartburn.

Chronic heartburn can lead to esophageal cancer

Sometimes heartburn is just heartburn. Sometimes it’s a risk factor for, or a sign of, esophageal cancer.

Occasional heartburn, formally known as gastroesophageal reflux, is common, but 20 percent of Americans suffer from a condition known as gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, meaning they experience heartburn and regurgitation on a chronic basis. Eventually, GERD can lead to a precancerous condition known as Barrett’s esophagus and, worse, cancer.

“Over time, gastroesophageal reflux disease can cause inflammation of the lining of the esophagus,” said Jae Kim, M.D., chief of thoracic surgery at City of Hope. “If there is enough inflammation, the normal lining is replaced with an abnormal lining, called Barrett’s esophagus.  In some cases, Barrett’s esophagus can then lead to esophageal cancer.”

» Continue Reading


Made in City of Hope: T cells – enlisting the immune system to beat cancer

November 21, 2014 | by

The body’s immune system is usually adept at attacking outside invaders such as bacteria and viruses. But because cancer originates from the body’s own cells, the immune system can fail to see it as foreign. As a result, the body’s most powerful ally can remain largely idle against cancer as the disease progresses. Immunotherapy in general seeks to spur the immune system to action, helping the body fight cancer. One type of immunotherapy —T cell therapy — reprograms immune cells known as T cells to recognize and destroy cancer cells.

Stephen Forman

Stephen J. Forman, the head of City of Hope’s bone marrow transplant program, is leading a wave of T cell clinical trials, all of which are moving the treatment out of the lab and directly to patients.

A wave of clinical trials

Normally, T cells attack bacteria and other infectious agents. In T cell therapy, T cells are isolated from a sample of the patient’s blood, then genetically engineered to seek out and attack a specific cancer. Researchers grow millions of these engineered T cells in the laboratory. The engineered cells are reinfused into the patient, where they go to work eliminating cancer.

Stephen J. Forman, M.D., the Francis & Kathleen McNamara Distinguished Chair in Hematology and Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation, has long pursued breakthrough treatments for hematologic cancers and blood-related disorders, and heads up City of Hope’s bone marrow transplant program. Under his direction, a wave of T cell clinical trials is underway, all of which are moving the treatment out of the lab and directly to patients. » Continue Reading


Hematologist gets $100,000 NCI grant for lymphoma research

November 19, 2014 | by
Hematologist Robert Chen, M.D.

Hematologist Robert Chen is one of just 11 researchers in the nation this year to receive the Clinical Investigator Team Leadership Award from the National Cancer Institute. The NCI grant honors clinical researchers who participate in collaborative clinical trials.

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


Made in City of Hope: COH29, a better cancer drug

November 14, 2014 | by
Dr. Yun Yen and Dr. David Horne

Yun Yen, M.D., Ph.D. and David Horne, Ph.D., created an anti-cancer drug that has been shown to reduce tumor growth in human cancers.

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


Made in City of Hope: Pushing the limits of liver cancer surgery

November 7, 2014 | by

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.

Dr. Gagandeep Singh

Gagandeep Singh, clinical professor and chief of the Division of Surgical Oncology, devised a technique that incorporates tools normally used in laparoscopy and neurosurgery to remove  liver cancer tumors.

An innovator

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.

» Continue Reading


Colorectal cancer rising in young adults? Physician offers perspective

November 7, 2014 | by
colorectal cancer

Colorectal cancer is rising in young adults, a new study finds. City of Hope expert Donald David stresses the importance of individualized screening.

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


SupportScreen app reaches 10,000 patients

November 6, 2014 | by
SupportScreen

Talking about their cancer and their needs can be difficult for some patients. City of Hope’s SupportScreen makes that conversation easier for patients.

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.

» Continue Reading


Get the FACTs on quality of City of Hope’s stem cell transplant program

November 5, 2014 | by

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.

Stem cell transplant

City of Hope’s stem cell transplant program has received a full three-year accreditation from FACT — the 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


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)