Turning Traditional Medicine Into Cancer Drugs

Quite a few substances used in traditional medicine in China or other countries have received Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval as cancer drugs… and their numbers are growing.  Some examples are: Arsenic trioxide, made from arsenic sulfide ore, has been used therapeutically for more than 2,400 years. Following promising reports from China, the agent was tested in clinical trials and received FDA approval in 2000 for patients with acute promyelocytic leukemia who have not responded to other therapies or whose disease has recurred.

Why We Need to Fund Cancer Research

One of the goals of the Rally for Medical Research, held in conjunction with the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) 2013 Annual Meeting, earlier this month was to bring awareness to and education about the impact of the cuts in federal funding for medical research. Dana-Farber’s Kenneth C. Anderson, MD participated in the Rally. He says in this video, that the scientists who exist today are extraordinary, and for the new generation of cancer researchers to build on today’s advances, it is all dependent on funding from the National Institutes of Health and the National Cancer Institute.      

Rally to Support Cancer Research Today

by Robert Levy More than 18,000 cancer scientists from around the world are in Washington, D.C., this week for the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR). The meeting serves as a forum for the presentation and discussion of the latest discoveries in cancer research. The meeting coincides with the Rally for Medical Research, which was held Monday morning on the steps of the Carnegie Library in the nation’s capital.

How Do Cancer Drugs Block Pathways?

by Richard Saltus    Cells are like young children – they need a lot of guidance on how to behave. Your body’s cells are constantly getting that help – in the form of hormones, growth factors, and other chemicals telling them when to rest, grow, duplicate their DNA, divide, or even self-destruct. These commands are relayed from the cell’s surface to its nucleus by molecular pathways, also called signaling pathways, which are a series of interacting proteins that relay cellular messages, much as cell phone towers relay phone calls. When the commands reach the cell nucleus, they activate or turn …

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Zeroing In On Dark Matter

By Richard Saltus If the human genome – the complete set of  DNA blueprints in a cell for building a human being — is truly “the book of life, ”  as it has been called, then 99 percent of life’s book is gobbledygook. Only 1 percent of the DNA contains genetic instructions for making the body’s proteins; most of the rest of it has no known purpose, earning it the unappealing title of “junk DNA” or the more ominous sounding “dark matter.” In addition to containing all of life’s necessary genetic instructions, the 1 percent had also been home to …

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Sequestration Could Slow the Pace of Biomedical Research

By Edward J. Benz, Jr., MD The automatic budget cuts (or sequestration) that went into to effect as a result of the Budget Control Act of 2011, could have a chilling long-term effect on scientific research in the United States. The automatic cuts will slash 5.1 percent – or about $1.6 billion in 2013 alone – from the budget of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which is the principal funder of biomedical research in the United States, and the National Cancer Institute (NCI), which is a major supporter of research at Dana-Farber.

Cancer Researcher Values Teaching and Learning

By William Hahn, MD, PhD Every year, hundreds of postdoctoral fellows and graduate students study cancer research at Dana-Farber under some of the world’s leading scientists. The Dana-Farber Postdoc and Graduate Student Affairs Office recently named the first recipient of its Mentor-of-the-Year Award: William Hahn, MD, PhD, the Institute’s deputy scientific officer and director of its Center for Cancer Genome Discovery. Here, Hahn discusses the lessons he learned from his own mentors and his efforts to instill the same principles in his own trainees.

Managing Cancer Risk: Miss America Contestant’s Decision Puts Genetics and Cancer Center Stage

Win or lose, Miss America contestant Allyn Rose made news with her decision to undergo a double mastectomy. According to the Associated Press, Rose, who lost her mother to breast cancer, inherited a rare genetic mutation which might put her at greater risk for developing cancer. Her decision to have the preventive surgery has sparked questions about genetics, cancer risk and strategies for preventing cancer. If you have a question about genetic factors that increase cancer risk, you can ask the Dana-Farber cancer genetics team.

Pediatrics and Gene Therapy: A Conversation with David Williams

For David Williams, MD, the field of pediatrics offers two great attractions. “It is wonderful because of the kinds of patients you take care of,” he says. “But also because of the personalities of pediatricians – in pediatrics you find very compassionate and caring people.” Williams embodies that compassion and combines it with a drive to solve the medical problems of young patients, often with the use of cutting-edge technology.

Can Breast Cancer Patients Avoid Multiple Surgeries?

When Jane Davis was diagnosed with breast cancer last July, she began learning as much as she could about her disease. Davis quickly discovered one of the most startling statistics about breast cancer: Up to 40 percent of women who have a lumpectomy require a second surgery. That’s because surgeons often cannot microscopically remove the entire tumor. But Mehra Golshan, MD, FACS, director of Breast Surgical Services at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center, is trying to change that with a phase I breast surgery pilot study. It’s the first of its kind in the world.