Posts tagged ‘Don J. Diamond’

Made in City of Hope: Cancer vaccine with a two-pronged approach

October 24, 2014 | by

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 Dimond, Ph.D. and Vincent Chung, M.D.

City of Hope researchers Don Diamond, left, and Vincent Chung have developed a cancer vaccine and are now testing its effectiveness in clinical trials.

A partnership

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

A stomach bug means bad news for lymphoma

September 4, 2012 | by

Usually, we hate salmonella.

Photo of researcher holding eggIt’s the reason you’ve got to make sure your chicken is cooked through. These bacteria cause food poisoning so serious it can even be deadly to people with weakened immune systems.

We may yet learn to like salmonella if City of Hope virologist Don J. Diamond, Ph.D., has his way.

Diamond is leading studies to turn the household bug against diseases such as non-Hodgkin lymphoma. He plans to take advantage of a surprising trait of salmonella: The bacteria naturally seek out tumor cells.

Salmonella as a cancer-fighter isn’t a new idea. But Diamond has his own twist.

Using funds from his 2012–13 Tim Nesvig Lymphoma Fellowship, Diamond is improving a weakened, safe form of salmonella he says “performed beautifully in the laboratory, but had disappointing results in the clinic.” He and his team are amping up the bacteria’s natural cancer-finding ability.

So far, they’ve published exciting results in melanoma and pancreatic cancer. Ultimately, they hope to use the souped-up salmonella to help the body fight lymphoma. The plan: The bacteria travel to cancer cells and then push the body’s natural defenses to fight the cancer.

The scientists expect that a resulting treatment would be gentler on patients than the treatments of today.

That would be a good development coming from a bug that’s usually bad news.