Posts tagged ‘lymphoma’


To turn T cells into cancer fighters, start with bacteria (w/VIDEO)

January 28, 2015 | by


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.

t cells

City of Hope scientists are studying T cells, and how they can be reprogrammed to recognize cancer markers and attack cancer cells.

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.

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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.


#LastChemo: Lymphoma patient begins 2015 cancer-free

January 9, 2015 | by

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.

lymphoma

Lymphoma patient Aaron Bomar will celebrate his last round of chemotherapy — and being lymphoma-free — on Jan. 5. He is pictured here with wife Julie Bomar and daughter Jessica Bomar Karylyle.

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 2015: Changing treatment while pushing for a cure

January 2, 2015 | by

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.

HIV/AIDS

City of Hope researchers are developing potential cures for HIV/AIDS while improving treatments for those currently living with the disease.

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


City of Hope research advances treatment of hematologic cancers

December 9, 2014 | by

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.

Research into hematologic cancers

City of Hope research presented at the American Society of Hematology meetings provides promising new data for the treatment of hematologic cancers.

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


Stem cell transplants OK for HIV-linked lymphoma patients, study finds

December 8, 2014 | by

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.

Joseph Alvarnas

City of Hope’s Joseph Alvarnas shares results from a City of Hope study at the annual ASH meeting that supports change to standard of care for HIV lymphoma.

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


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


The future is here: $8 million CIRM grant will launch stem cell clinic

November 17, 2014 | by

Identifying cures for currently incurable diseases and providing patients with safe, fast and potentially lifesaving treatments is the focus of City of Hope’s new Alpha Clinic for Cell Therapy and Innovation (ACT-I).

stem cells in the lab

City of Hope will open a stem cell clinic through an $8 million CIRM grant. Among the first diseases to be treated will be AIDS-related lymphoma and brain tumors.

The clinic is funded by an $8 million, five-year grant from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. The award is part of CIRM’s Alpha Stem Cell Clinics program, which aims to create one-stop centers for clinical trials focused on stem cell treatments for diseases.

Two trials were identified to launch the center, but additional trials are currently enrolling patients and will be part of this clinic. The first trials center on transplants of blood stem cells that have been modified to treat patients with AIDS and lymphoma, and on the use of neural stem cells – which naturally home to cancer cells – to deliver drugs directly to cancers hiding in the brain. Coming soon will be trials that use T cell immunotherapy, developed by researchers in City of Hope’s new Hematologic Malignancies and Stem Cell Transplantation Institute.

“We are committed to finding cures and treatments to diseases that are, for now, incurable,” said John Zaia, M.D., the Aaron D. Miller and Edith Miller Chair in Gene Therapy, chair of the Department of Virology and principal investigator for the stem cell clinic. “This grant recognizes City of Hope’s commitment to and leadership in this endeavor, as well as enables us to pursue the crucially important work of bringing the promising potential of stem cell treatments to fruition.” » Continue Reading


City of Hope launches institute focused on hematologic malignancies

October 28, 2014 | by

Cancers of the blood and immune system are considered to be among the most difficult-to-treat cancers. A world leader in the treatment of blood cancers, City of Hope is now launching an institute specifically focused on treating people with lymphoma, leukemia and myeloma, as well as other serious blood and bone marrow diseases.

hematopoietic cell transplantation survivors

City of Hope’s success in treating blood and bone marrow cancers is just the beginning. The institution is launching the Hematologic Malignancies and Stem Cell Transplantation Institute to speed cures to patients even more efficiently and quickly. Here, survivors of hematopoietic cell transplantation celebrate at City of Hope’s 2014 Bone Marrow Transplant Reunion.

Through this institute, laboratory and physician investigators will expand their work and develop new therapies and possible cures for leukemia, lymphoma and multiple myeloma. The Hematologic Malignancies and Stem Cell Transplantation Institute at City of Hope is built upon a foundation that was created by City of Hope’s Stephen J. Forman, M.D., the Francis & Kathleen McNamara Distinguished Chair in Hematology and Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation at City of Hope, and the leader of the institution’s Hematologic Malignancies Program, and Steven T. Rosen, M.D., the provost and chief scientific officer at City of Hope.

Both are known worldwide for the vision, discipline and compassion with which they approach some of the most complex and difficult diseases that afflict men, women and children. Both are committed to continuing to make scientific breakthroughs while caring for patients in the uniquely patient-centered environment for which City of Hope is known.

“Over the years we have seen the development of therapies that, had we known then what we know now, could have saved more lives. The institute will create a collaborative culture of research and individualized care that will accelerate our research breakthroughs for the patients and families who come to us for help,” Forman said. » Continue Reading


Meet our doctors: Jasmine Zain on cutaneous T cell lymphoma

September 27, 2014 | by

Cutaneous T cell lymphomas are types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma that arise when infection-fighting white blood cells in the lymphatic system – called lymphocytes – become malignant and affect the skin. The result is rashes and, sometimes, tumors, which can be mistaken for other dermatological conditions. In a small number of people, the disease may progress to the lymph nodes or internal organs, causing serious complications.

Jasmine.Zain.160x190

Jasmine Zain leads a team of specialists who have extensive expertise in handling the most complicated cutaneous T cell lymphoma cases.

Here Jasmine Zain, M.D., associate clinical professor and director of City of Hope’s T Cell Lymphoma Program, discusses how in recent years, greater research efforts, advanced treatment options and more collaboration among physicians have contributed to better care and outcomes for patients, and helped many to return to a normal life.

What is cutaneous T cell lymphoma (CTCL) and what are the symptoms?

CTCL is a rare form of lymphoma that arises primarily in the skin. It is not to be confused with the more common forms of skin cancer that include melanoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Lymphomas are cancers of the lymphoid system and usually arise in lymph nodes. However, with skin being the largest lymphoid organ in the body and our first line of defense against the outside environment, occasionally it becomes the site of lymphoma formation. » Continue Reading