Posts tagged ‘City of Hope’
H. Teresa Ku, Ph.D., believes adult pancreatic stem cells could hold the key to making a type 1 diabetes cure more widely available.
First, she has to prove they exist.
Transplantation of insulin-producing islet cells into the pancreas is one promising method for treating type 1 diabetes patients, particularly those with very advanced disease that can no longer be sufficiently managed with insulin shots.
But, of the 200,000 patients who fit this description, only 1 percent will be able to receive a transplant. The procedure requires two donor pancreases to gather enough healthy islet cells, and the precious organs are in short supply – with only 1,000 a year available for islet cell transplantation.
“I would argue this is a critical need,” said Ku, associate professor in the Department of Diabetes and Metabolic Diseases Research at City of Hope. “As we go through the numbers, 99 percent of those patients who are in need cannot have that beneficial transplantation.”
In the search for better ways to deliver powerful chemotherapy drugs only to tumors, leaving healthy tissue unscathed, nanoparticles are emerging as a promising tool. These tiny particles can be loaded with powerful chemotherapy drugs that, ideally, can be delivered directly to the cancer site. But the delivery only can be completed if the packages avoid detection by healthy cells.
City of Hope scientists may have found a way to ensure their packages arrive safely. They recently published a paper in the Journal of Materials Chemistry B outlining a new strategy for disguising these drug-carrying nanoparticles so that they will drop their therapeutic drugs directly at the tumors – escaping notice from cells that want to filter them to the liver.
In their study, researchers applied a coating to gold nanoparticles to shield them from being gobbled up – a tactic that’s been used before but that still results in most of the particles collecting in the liver instead of at the tumor sites. However, this time researchers used a more cunning disguise: They masked the particles in a coating marked with a specific molecule that triggered the tumor itself to attack the nanoparticles, break through their shield and ingest them.
Gold has been used for jewelry, to fill teeth and to garnish desserts. Now, the precious metal may also prove to be an important tool for fighting cancer.
Already, doctors have many ways to kill cancer cells. The trick is not damaging the rest of the body in the process, says Jacob Berlin, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Molecular Medicine at City of Hope.
Thermal ablation – zapping tumors with intense heat – is one strategy that has shown considerable promise. But like other physical strategies, it requires probes or other means to access the cancer site. And in some cases, the tumor cannot be reached or may have spread, creating stray malignant cells. In other cases, there may be many tumors.
Now, working with researchers in the laboratory of Karen Aboody, M.D., an associate professor in the Department of Neurosciences and the Division of Neurosurgery, Berlin and his colleagues believe they’ve found a method of delivering blasts of thermal ablation directly to tumor sites, using tiny gold rods embedded in neural stem cells.
Faced with the knowledge that she carries a gene mutation that drastically increases her risk of breast and ovarian cancer, Angelina Jolie chose to have her breasts removed. She shared her story earlier this week in a frank New York Times op-ed that underscores the difficult choice faced by women who have the mutation.
In revealing her story, Jolie called attention to the fact that women with BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutations are roughly five times more likely to develop breast cancer than women without such a mutation.
Most women with cancer do not carry one of the gene mutations, and the mutations account for only a small percentage of cancers. About 5 to 10 percent of all breast cancers are associated with a BRCA mutation, and only women with a specific family history need to consider testing for BRCA mutations, experts say.
“One of the wonderful things about health care reform is women are not being treated as one homogeneous population,” Mortimer said. “Instead, it’s based on assessing each woman for her risk … Knowing your risk is what’s important.”
The description is simple: Blood and marrow stem cell transplants replace a person’s faulty stem cells with healthy ones.
The reality is complex: High doses of chemotherapy and radiation must be used to destroy the disease and “make room” for the new, nondiseased stem cells. The immune system is then essentially kick-started to start producing healthy cells on its own.
City of Hope’s numbers belie both: Physicians here have performed more than 11,000 blood and marrow stem cell transplants. Based on a 2012 report from the Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research, City of Hope is the only transplant program in the country to achieve eight consecutive reporting years of “over performance” in one-year overall patient survival.
Perhaps only those who have been there – and back – can truly understand the significance of this achievement; what’s it’s like to have gotten another chance at life, to have survived not just a life-threatening cancer but the ordeal of the transplant itself. So, once a year, they get a chance to celebrate with the only others who come close to understanding – their transplant doctors, nurses and caregivers. Continue reading “Survivors, stem cell transplants – and a reason to celebrate” »
In many ways, stress and diabetes feed off one another in a vicious cycle. Research has shown that stress — particularly chronic stress — leads diabetics to make poor lifestyle choices. It also causes their bodies to release hormones that can destabilize blood sugar levels.
At the same time, living and coping with diabetes is itself a long-term source of stress, especially when it involves frequent monitoring and management.
Thus, it is vital for diabetics avoid this cycle as much as possible by keeping their stress levels in check. City of Hope will be hosting an “Ask the Experts – Diabetes and Stress: What You Need to Know” event to help them do just that.Randi McAllister, Ph.D., clinical professor from the Department of Supportive Care Medicine, and Jinsun Choi, M.D., fellow from the Department of Clinical Diabetes, Endocrinology & Metabolism, will be speaking at the event.
Some tips for diabetics to manage their stress and minimize its effects include: Continue reading “Ask the Experts: Stress, diabetes and how to manage both” »
The title was this: “Expressed Prostatic Secretions Biomarkers Improve Stratification of National Comprehensive Cancer Network Active Surveillance Candidates.”
And the conclusions were these: “Secondary screening by non-invasive EPS testing may improve patient acceptance of Active Surveillance by dramatically reducing the presence of occult risk factors in patients eligible for Active Surveillance under NCCN guidelines.”
- In between were the details on the number of patients, their risk classifications when it came to the likelihood of the disease’s spread, how the secretions were obtained, various biomarkers and the like.
To those uninitiated in the world of research, this abstract on prostate cancer staging might have seemed standard fare. After all, it consisted of the usual introduction and objectives, methods, results and conclusions – and it was short. That’s the nature of abstracts. (Think of them as a movie trailer for the full-length film.)
But when all was said and done, not only had the researchers – from none other than City of Hope – produced a tidy synopsis of some impressive science, they’d also won the Best Abstract award from the American Urology Association. And they’ll be presenting their work at the association’s annual meeting in San Diego, held May 4 to 8.
“The award provides salience at the meeting and recognizes basic science research that will likely alter clinical practice by moving the presentation to the plenary session,” said Steven Smith, Ph.D., professor of molecular science in the Division of Urology and the principal investigator on the study. “This is a huge national meeting attended by thousands of practicing urologists and scientists.”
In short, City of Hope is helping shape the practice of urology. Continue reading “Prostate cancer abstract: So few words, so much impact” »
Somewhere along the way, May – a harbinger of carefree summer fun – got serious. It’s now known as Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month. But as fun-sapping as that name might seem, there does appear to be a way to combine an exuberant embrace of the sun with skin protection. The Aussies have already proved it.
The words Slip! Slop! Slap! are credited with awakening Australians to the need to protect their skin from the sun. That’s what anyone would call a breakthrough. Used as a slogan, the words were the focal point “one of the most successful health campaigns in Australia’s history.”
Of course, the Australian campaign featured Sid the seagull, an animated bird wearing board shirts.
“Slip, Slop, Slap!,” Sid sang, in a charming, and apparently persuasive, Aussie accent. “It sounds like a breeze when you say it like that … Slip, Slop, Slap! Slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen and slap on a hat. Slip, Slop, Slap!”
There’s more, but reading the lyrics doesn’t do the bird justice. See? Fun. Continue reading “To reduce melanoma risk, learn from the Aussies (and a seagull)” »
Yet another experimental HIV vaccine may have taken a fall, but researchers – including those at City of Hope – aren’t giving up.
The trial halted this week by the National Institutes of Health is but the latest failure in the realm of would-be HIV vaccines. The study, known as HVTN 505, was testing a two-vaccine “prime-boost” strategy; the first vaccine was designed to prime the immune system, the second was intended to boost the immune response, explained the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).
In this case, the strategy didn’t appear to work. And on Thursday, the government called off the trial, effective immediately. Not only did the vaccine not prevent HIV infection, it didn’t even reduce viral load among those recipients who became infected with HIV. Continue reading “HIV vaccine failure fuels researchers’ determination” »
Even as University of Minnesota physicians attempt the first cord blood transplant designed specifically to cure a pediatric patient of HIV and leukemia, City of Hope researchers have devised a program that could make such transplants more readily available.
The cord blood being used in the Minnesota transplant, which took place Tuesday, has a rare mutation shown to protect against HIV, and researchers at City of Hope have been working with cord blood banks and other institutions to identify blood with this mutation. Doing so could make the blood more readily available to those who could benefit.
The boy undergoing the treatment Tuesday was born with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and several months ago developed a rare form of leukemia, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
To date, only one patient in the world has been cured of HIV/AIDS by transplantation. Timothy Brown, known as the Berlin patient, was treated with bone marrow from a donor with a specific mutation in a cell surface protein. This mutation protects against HIV by preventing the virus from entering the T cells, ultimately preventing it from destroying the immune system. Continue reading “Cord blood transplants: Using a rare mutation to fight HIV” »