Posts tagged ‘multiple myeloma’
Today is National Doctors Day, the official day to recognize, thank and celebrate the tremendous work physicians do each and every day.
Launched in 1991 via a presidential proclamation from then-President George Bush, the observance offers a chance to reflect on the qualities that define truly great medical care. Compassion and expertise are vital, of course, as is the intuitive understanding that each patient must be treated as a person, not his or her disease. But research is vital as well.
As the proclamation states: “The day-to-day work of healing conducted by physicians throughout the United States has been shaped, in large part, by great pioneers in medical research.”
Here, we acknowledge a few of the City of Hope physicians working to improve care and treatment of patients everywhere by maximizing the most leading-edge research from around the world – and by conducting it themselves at City of Hope.
Karen S. Aboody, M.D.: Pushing the frontiers of brain cancer therapy
Although the mass of a glioblastoma, the most aggressive and common type of primary brain tumor in adults, can be removed surgically, removal of all the tumor cells is virtually impossible – meaning recurrence is common. Karen S. Aboody, M.D., professor in the Department of Neurosciences and Division of Neurosurgery at City of Hope, believes the answer could lie in special cells called neural stem cells. Neural stem cells are known for their ability to become any type of cell in the nervous system. These cells not only are attracted to cancer cells, they have the ability to deliver drugs directly to the tumor sites, sparing healthy tissues and minimizing side effects. City of Hope is currently conducting a phase I clinical trial of neural stem cells to treat glioblastoma. » Continue Reading
Many cancer patients have benefited from targeted therapy – medications that can identify cancers by their genetic properties and help eradicate them – but such therapy has been largely a pipe dream for multiple myeloma patients. Until now.
Currently, two medications are emerging as especially promising in the treatment of multiple myeloma: daratumumab and SAR650984. Each of the drugs targets different sites on the same receptor for multiple myeloma. Each was the subject of research presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology.
The drugs are offering new hope to patients who have already tried many other therapies with less-than-ideal results. “The most important thing is that these are targeting the patients who have high-risk disease who have been refractory to the other agents we’ve had standardly available,” said Amrita Y. Krishnan, M.D., director of the Multiple Myeloma Program at City of Hope. “To see responses in these very advanced patients is extremely compelling.” » Continue Reading
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.
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
Although a stem cell transplant can be a lifesaving procedure for people diagnosed with a blood cancer or blood disorder, the standard transplant may not be appropriate for all patients. This is because the conditioning regimen (the intensive chemotherapy and/or radiation treatments preceding the transplant) is very taxing on the body, and certain patients — such as those who are older — cannot tolerate the toxicity associated with the process.
But at City of Hope, this does not rule them out of a potentially curative transplant, thanks to our care team’s specialization in nonmyeloablative transplants (also known as a reduced intensity, or “mini,” transplant.)
What is a nonmyeloablative stem cell transplant and how does it work to treat cancer?
Nonmyeloablative stem cell transplant is a way of doing a transplant that is not as intensive as traditional transplant regimens. It uses lower doses of drugs than a standard transplant but still enables us to engraft stem cells from a donor. It then works through utilizing the donor stem cells, which builds an immune reaction against the residual cancer cells — hopefully eliminating the disease and preventing it from returning.
Because it is less intensive, nonmyeloablative transplants are generally used for patients who are older or otherwise too frail to tolerate a traditional transplant, and this procedure has allowed us to perform curative transplants in a greater range of people. » Continue Reading
Although multiple myeloma is classified as a blood cancer, patients with this disease often experience bone-related symptoms, too. This includes bone pain, frequent fractures and spots of low bone density or bone damage that show up during a skeletal scan.
Here, Amrita Krishnan, M.D., director of City of Hope’s Multiple Myeloma Program, answers questions about this cancer’s connection to bone health and what patients and their care team can do about it.
How does multiple myeloma affect bone health?
In a normal body, bones are constantly being maintained by two types of cells: osteoblasts that create new bone matter and osteoclasts that break it down and reabsorb it. Myeloma cells can disrupt this balance in two ways, by interfering with osteoblasts‘ bone-building ability while overstimulating osteoclasts‘ breakdown processes. The result is overall bone loss. » Continue Reading
No matter how impressive a research study’s conclusion may be – or how seemingly unsurprising – experts are needed to put the findings into context. Perhaps a study’s methodology wasn’t as strong as it could have been. Perhaps the conclusions confirmed that other researchers are on the right track. Perhaps the study missed the mark completely.
City of Hope’s physicians recently weighed in on an array of recent published studies, offering their expertise, insight and perspective via a special commentary feature in Clinical Oncology News.
From Journal of the National Cancer Institute came this recent study: “More Exercise Is Better During Breast Cancer Chemotherapy.”
Commented Joanne Mortimer, M.D., director of the Women’s Cancers Program and professor and vice chair of the Department of Medical Oncology & Therapeutics Research at City of Hope:
The researchers “demonstrated that as little as 25 to 30 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise three times a week can improve self-reported physical functioning in women undergoing adjuvant chemotherapy. Twice that amount of aerobic exercise resulted in a significant reduction in bodily pain and fatigue. … The relationship between physical activity, obesity and breast cancer continues to intrigue us and provide important biological insights.” » Continue Reading
Research studies known as clinical trials have led to countless advances in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of cancer. These studies test the effectiveness of new medical approaches that can lead to fewer treatment-related side effects and, in some cases, improved outcomes for patients with certain cancers.
But many patients know little about clinical trials, much less what’s involved to participate. Here, Leslie Popplewell, associate professor in the Department of Hematology & Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation at City of Hope, explains how clinical trials work and how patients and their families can make informed decisions about participating in trials.
What are clinical trials, and why are they important?
Clinical trials are a way of delivering a promising new drug or combination of drugs to patients. Trials typically have a strict set of guidelines on which patients can be treated (“are eligible”), and they’re carefully controlled so that the results can be recorded and the outcomes reported in a scientific way.
Usually clinical trials are designed to test new drugs, or drugs that have been in use for a while, but are now used in a different setting or patient population than previously. A clinical trial may also offer a new drug combination that hasn’t been used before. » Continue Reading
TV journalist Tom Brokaw’s recent acknowledgement of his multiple myeloma diagnosis calls attention not only to the disease, but also to how much progress doctors have made against it.
City of Hope has been at the forefront of that progress. Our Multiple Myeloma Program is known internationally for its research breakthroughs and clinical treatments. Here, researchers have developed new combinations of chemotherapy medications and have improved procedures used for stem cell transplants and radiation treatments.
Multiple myeloma, a cancer of the blood plasma cells, is the second most common hematological malignancy in the U.S. (after non-Hodgkin lymphoma), and accounts for 1 percent of all cancers. It is generally thought to be incurable but highly treatable.
Amrita Krishnan, M.D., director of City of Hope’s Multiple Myeloma Program, says City of Hope is at the forefront of transforming the way myeloma is treated and that, as a result, more myeloma patients are able to live active, productive lives.
What is multiple myeloma and are there any symptoms?
Multiple myeloma is a cancer of plasma cells. Plasma cells are white blood cells that normally produce antibodies to fight infection.
In myeloma, abnormal plasma cells build up in the bone marrow and interfere with the production of normal blood cells. The abnormal plasma cells also can overproduce defective antibodies, which can deposit in the kidneys and damage them.
Kidney damage often can be the first sign of myeloma. Other symptoms include bone thinning and fractures. The abnormal plasma cells also can send signals to the bones and boost the activity of osteoclasts, the cells that absorb or eat bone. » Continue Reading
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