Posts tagged ‘lymphoma’
Although researchers have long known that chronic inflammation is tied to a higher cancer risk, the exact mechanism connecting them remains a mystery. But City of Hope scientists have identified a gene, called Rrm2b, that may fill in a piece of that puzzle.
The findings were published in a Cell Reports article earlier this month. In the study, the authors found that RRM2b (the enzyme manufactured by the Rrm2b gene) is responsible for DNA damage repair, and that animal subjects with deficient Rrm2b genes are more prone to developing blood cancers.
The researchers also found that Rrm2b gene loss leads to chromosomal abnormalities and triggers the secretion of pro-inflammatory molecules, both contributing to cancerous changes in cells.
“Our previous clinical data suggested that RRM2b protein levels are inversely associated with cancer progression,” said Lufen Chang, Ph.D., assistant research scientist in the Department of Molecular Pharmacology and lead author of this study. “Based on this study’s findings, we concluded that Rrm2b deficiency may be a potential risk factor for hematologic malignancies.” Continue reading “Scientists identify gene that may suppress cancer development” »
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” »
Usually, we hate salmonella.
It’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.
One idea can change the world — especially when people from diverse perspectives work together to bring that idea to fruition.
Cancer research can work that way. That’s why the National Cancer Institute (NCI) established a grant program to support Specialized Programs of Research Excellence, or SPOREs. These programs drive innovative studies involving both laboratory and clinical researchers targeting prevention, early detection, diagnosis and treatment of cancer. The goal: rapidly move basic scientific findings into clinical use to benefit patients.
The NCI recently renewed City of Hope’s Lymphoma SPORE grant, continuing groundbreaking research that first was recognized with a SPORE award in 2004.
City of Hope is pursuing four main projects through its Lymphoma SPORE.
T-cells engineered to fight non-Hodgkin lymphoma
T-cells are powerful immune system cells that fight disease. City of Hope scientists aim to re-engineer some of a lymphoma patient’s T cells so they target lymphoma cells and overcome the defenses that keep the lymphoma safe from the immune system. The treatment uses central memory T-cells, which potentially can provide a life-long immunity against lymphoma, preventing any relapse of the disease.
Avoiding treatment-related leukemia
Sometimes lymphoma treatment can put a patient at risk of developing leukemia later. Better understanding how a patient’s genetic profile may influence that cancer risk could help physicians tailor lymphoma treatment to minimize the chance of developing therapy-related leukemia.
Strategies for overcoming relapsed disease
Non-Hodgkin follicular lymphoma doesn’t give up easily; patients can have a high relapse rate and often must undergo many difficult treatments. Researchers are studying a protein that may help the immune system specifically target non-Hodgkin follicular lymphoma cells and protect patients against relapse.
Nanoparticles to infiltrate lymphoma cells
Minute tubes of carbon atoms called nanoparticles — each a tiny fraction of a hair’s width — can carry a therapeutic molecule to lymphoma cells to block cancer-boosting genes. Turning off those genes may kill the cancer, but making sure those nanoparticles can get into cancer cells and drop off the therapy is tricky. This project aims to make delivery more certain.
More than 60 SPOREs throughout the U.S. currently focus on different organs and disease sites in the body – among them brain, breast, kidney and lung. City of Hope remains one of only five centers in the country who have been awarded a Lymphoma SPORE grant.
These research efforts also receive support from the Tim Nesvig Lymphoma Fellowship and Research Fund.
Who can argue that peanut butter does not taste great with chocolate?
And as much as we admire Albert Einstein for his solitary work on understanding that whole “space-time” relationship, we also celebrate the group mind of scientists like Francis Crick, Rosalind A. Franklin and James D. Watson who, together, worked out the structure of DNA. Sometimes things are simply better in pairs — or trios.
Take highly active antiretroviral therapy, commonly called HAART, for one. Many physicians cite the introduction of HAART — basically a combination of three or more virus-fighting drugs — in the 1990s as a major turning point in HIV/AIDS treatment. Through HAART’s “drug cocktails,” what was once considered an immediate death sentence became a chronic condition that was manageable for most people infected with HIV.
Doctors came up with the combinations of drugs used in HAART only after each drug was approved and used individually. But today some researchers, including scientists at City of Hope, are looking at drug combinations for diseases like cancer much earlier, while the drugs are still in development.
They recently presented two lab studies of potential new combination cancer treatments for lymphoma and solid tumors at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) in early April.