Posts tagged ‘lymphoma’
Geoff Berman, 61, starts his day with the motto: “The sun is up. I’m vertical. It’s a good day.”
Ever since he’s been in remission from lymphoma, Berman makes a special point of being grateful for each day, reminding himself that being alive is a gift. “I just enjoy living,” he said. “I give every ounce of positivity I can.”
This resolve followed Berman’s diagnosis for lymphoma in 2013, just days after purchasing a new home in Palm Desert, California, with his wife. They’d planned to live there peacefully and uneventfully with their two cats.
But what Berman first thought was a pulled groin turned out to be an abdominal mass the size of a grapefruit, and he was soon diagnosed with aggressive B cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Finally, after seven rounds of chemotherapy, Berman came to City of Hope for an autologous stem cell transplant.
Cutaneous lymphoma, a form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, is a rare type of cancer that begins in the white blood cells and attacks the skin. It can cause rash-like skin redness and, sometimes, skin tumors. Although cutaneous lymphomas are rare, accounting for about 5 percent of all non-Hodgkin lymphomas, approximately 20,000 people in the United States are estimated to have cutaneous lymphoma.
Here, dermatologist/dermatopathologist and cutaneous lymphoma expert Christiane Querfeld, M.D., Ph.D., director of City of Hope’s Cutaneous Lymphoma Program, discusses how new therapy options and continued collaboration among physicians have contributed to better care and outcomes for cutaneous lymphoma patients, and helped many to return to a normal life.
What is cutaneous lymphoma and what causes it?
Cutaneous lymphomas, also known as lymphomas of the skin, are rare forms of cancer of the lymphocyte (a type of white blood cell that fights infection in the body) that primarily manifest in the skin, but may spread to the lymph nodes, blood and other organs. All cutaneous lymphomas are non-Hodgkin lymphomas.
Most cases of cutaneous lymphoma have no known cause, and therefore, they are difficult to prevent. Understanding why the lymphocytes on the skin become cancerous in the skin is a current research focus here at City of Hope. » Continue Reading
Curing HIV, not simply controlling its replication, is the ultimate goal of HIV researchers. A new clinical trial at City of Hope could put that goal within reach.
The trial will test an innovative new therapy that modifies the stem cells of patients with HIV to make them resistant to infection with the virus. Here’s how it works:
The AIDS virus relies on a protein called CCR5 to penetrate and infect cells. For the trial, researchers will use a zinc finger nuclease, or ZFN, to modify blood stem cells from patients infected with HIV. The ZFN acts as a pair of molecular scissors that cuts the CCR5 gene out of the cells. Without the gene, there is no CCR protein – and researchers hope that when these cells are infused back into the patient, their immune system will be resistant to HIV.
“It’s erasing the gene, and once it’s erased, it never can reappear,” said John Zaia, M.D., in an interview with BuzzFeed News. Zaia is the Aaron D. Miller and Edith Miller Chair in Gene Therapy at City of Hope, chair of the Department of Virology and principal investigator of the trial. » Continue Reading
Equipping the immune system to fight cancer – a disease that thrives on mutations and circumventing the body’s natural defenses – is within reach. In fact, City of Hope researchers are testing one approach in clinical trials now.
Scientists take a number of steps to turn cancer patients’ T cells – white blood cells that are part of the immune system’s defenses – into smart cells that can locate elusive cancer cells. They also get help from nature, using the natural properties of what most people consider agents of infection.
First, they use bacteria to help the patient’s own T cells grow in the lab – because cell reproduction is something bacteria do very well. Then they use a harmless virus to manipulate the DNA of the T cell so it can recognize certain markers on a cancer cell that flag them as targets for attack.
KPCC recently reported on this research, explaining how the immune system might be mobilized to attack cancers that are good at hiding from the body.
Bacteria, viruses, a patient’s own immune system and a team of top scientists all working in concert against cancer … Sound complicated? In about two and a half minutes, the above video artfully sums up the process step by step.
So far, City of Hope is studying this approach in a number of blood cancers through the Hematologic Malignancies and Stem Cell Transplantation Institute.
Learn more about T cell immunotherapy at City of Hope.
Learn more about becoming a patient or getting a second opinion at City of Hope by visiting our website or by calling 800-826-HOPE (4673). City of Hope staff will explain what’s required for a consult at City of Hope and help you determine, before you come in, whether or not your insurance will pay for the appointment.
Aaron Bomar and his family were celebrating his daughter’s 33rd birthday in September 2014 when he received alarming news: According to an X-ray taken earlier that day at an urgent care facility, he had a node on his aorta and was in danger of an aneurysm.
Bomar held hands with his wife and daughter and said a prayer. His daughter, Jessica Bomar Karylyle, blew out her candles, wishing for her 58-year-old father’s good health, and the family headed to the emergency room.
Earlier in 2014, Bomar, of Antelope Valley, had been treated for skin cancer. Lumps had developed on his face, ears and neck, making his doctors suspect another illness was also in play, but Bomar had been reluctant to have the lumps checked out. He couldn’t afford health insurance and, as the sole provider for his family, he feared he simply couldn’t pay the medical bills.
But Bomar had grown sicker by the day, quickly losing weight, and the lumps grew to golf-ball and soft-ball size. A concrete masonry inspector, Bomar is described by his daughter as strong, unflappable – and not terribly eager to go to the doctor. Finally, his wife, Julie, had convinced him to go to urgent care on that September day; there he had received the X-ray that prompted the family to go to an emergency room in Sylmar. » Continue Reading
HIV/AIDS researchers are determined not only to cure the disease, but to develop ever-more-effective treatments until that ultimate goal is reached. In 2015, they will gain ground in both endeavors.
In search of a cure: Stem cell and gene therapy
One of the most promising prospects for curing HIV is to recreate the success of the so-called Berlin patient, a patient with HIV who received a stem cell transplant to treat his acute myeloid leukemia. The transplant cured the man’s HIV because the donor had a previously unknown mutation that prevents the body from creating a key white blood cell receptor needed to establish an HIV infection.
The challenge for scientists has been to overcome the need to find a donor with the mutation who would also be a stem cell match for the patient with HIV/AIDS – a rare combination. Now City of Hope scientists have two promising approaches – both using stem cells. The approaches will be studied in City of Hope’s new Alpha Clinic for Cell Therapy and Innovation, funded by an $8 million grant from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. » Continue Reading
When it comes to research into the treatment of hematologic cancers, City of Hope scientists stand out. One study that they presented this week at the annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology suggests a new standard of care for HIV-associated lymphoma, another offers promise for the treatment of relapsing or treatment-resistant lymphoma, and still another points to more effective treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
Researchers from the Hematologic Malignancies and Stem Cell Transplantation Institute at City of Hope shared their findings at the annual ASH meeting, held Dec. 6 through 9, in San Francisco. More than 20,000 hematology professionals attended the annual conference, which highlights the hottest topics in the field.
Here are some of the highlights: » Continue Reading
Patients with HIV-associated lymphoma may soon have increased access to the current standard of care for some non-HIV infected patients – autologous stem cell transplants.
Impressive new data, presented Monday at the annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology (ASH) in San Francisco, indicate that HIV-associated lymphoma patients who meet standard eligibility criteria for transplants of their own stem cells respond well to the treatment, even in centers that do not have HIV-specific expertise. HIV infection has historically been viewed as reason to rule out autologous stem cell transplant – the standard of care for non-infected patients with relapsed or treatment-resistant lymphoma – due to their compromised immune system.
The new study could change that perception. It was led by Joseph Alvarnas, M.D., director of Medical Quality and Quality, Risk and Regulatory Management and a physician investigator at the Hematologic Malignancies and Stem Cell Transplantation Institute at City of Hope, and colleagues at Johns Hopkins Hospital. The study builds on previous research at City of Hope, including a crucial 2001 publication that was among the first internationally to show these transplants were possible for HIV patients. » Continue Reading
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.
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 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