Why the President’s Precision Medicine Initiative Is Good for Cancer Research

4.25.14 GenomicsSmall

A boost in funding for research on genetic causes of cancer and “tailored” cancer treatments will be a major focus of the new Precision Medicine Initiative. President Barack Obama is requesting an increase of $215 million in the 2016 budget, to launch the effort “to bring us closer to curing diseases like cancer and diabetes – and to give all of us access to the personalized information we need to keep ourselves and our families healthier.” Of that total, $130 million is slated for the NIH for development of a voluntary national research cohort of a million or more volunteers, …

Continue reading

The Latest in Cervical Cancer Treatment, Research and Prevention

SMALL_AlexiLarissaWebchat

Although cervical cancer is relatively rare in the United States, approximately 11,000-12,000 women in the U.S. are diagnosed with the disease each year. Globally, that number grows to more than 500,000 diagnoses each year, making it the fourth most common women’s cancer worldwide. As January marks Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber hosted a live cervical cancer webchat with Ursula Matulonis, MD, medical director of the Gynecologic Oncology Program at the Susan F. Smith Center, medical oncologist Alexi Wright, MD, MPH, and radiation oncologist Larissa Lee, MD. The discussion included information about …

Continue reading

What to Expect for Cancer Prevention and Therapies in 2015

Dr. William Hahn

This post was originally published on Cancer Research Catalyst, the official blog of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR).  Since the beginning of the “war on cancer” in the 1970s, we have made consistent progress against cancer aided by paradigm-shifting technological advances. Last year, we witnessed significant developments being made on several different fronts. Proof of this is the approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of eight cancer drugs, including a few milestone “first-of-their-kind” drugs encompassing immunotherapies and targeted therapies, and a nine-valent vaccine that can prevent infections that cause cervical cancer. The substantial gains we have made …

Continue reading

Precision Medicine and the Future of Cancer Treatment

SOG_1870_14

Precision medicine is rapidly changing the way cancer is studied and treated today. With new information about genetic and molecular characteristics in tumors, doctors are finding more effective and less toxic ways to fight the disease. “Precision medicine is seeing the monster of cancer clearly for the first time in a way that we can pinpoint weaknesses and then go into our arsenal and try new drugs to attack those weaknesses,” says Levi Garraway, MD, PhD, director of the Joint Center for Cancer Precision Medicine at Dana-Farber. Garraway recently discussed the evolving field of precision medicine in a Science, Innovation, …

Continue reading

A Teen’s Journey: Developing a Diagnostic Test for Pancreatic Cancer

Jack Andraka

This post was originally written and published on Vector, Boston Children’s Hospital’s science and clinical innovation blog.  At age 13, Jack Andraka lost a family friend to pancreatic cancer. At age 15, he developed a diagnostic test for pancreatic cancer that early findings suggest is highly accurate. In this session from Boston Children’s Hospital’s Global Pediatric Innovation Summit + Awards 2014, Andraka describes his journey, the Johns Hopkins professor who took him on, his fascination with carbon nanotubes and how open access to scientific journals can help people around the world create solutions to problems. The diagnostic itself is in the early phases of testing. …

Continue reading

New Immunotherapy Vaccines Show Promise in Treating Brain Tumors

David Reardon, brain tumors

Researchers in Dana-Farber’s Center for Neuro-Oncology are now launching attacks on glioblastomas from a new angle – by turning the patient’s immune system against the cancer cells. Where targeted chemotherapy uses drugs to disable proteins that cancer cells need to grow, immunotherapy drugs stimulate the patient’s immune system to recognize and kill cancer cells. Traditional drugs and even targeted chemotherapy agents have had little success in treating glioblastoma – the deadliest type of brain tumor. “Immunotherapy represents a great hope for patients currently facing this disease,” says David Reardon, MD, clinical director of the Center.  “We’re anxious to move this approach …

Continue reading

Immunotherapy, Ovarian Cancer Treatment Top List of 2014 Cancer Developments

SOG_5642_10_SMALL

Immunotherapy, treatments for ovarian cancer, and investigating game-changing drug therapies topped the list of the most important cancer research and clinical developments at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in 2014. Here are some highlights from the last year in research: Hodgkin lymphoma Some of the most dramatic evidence of potential of immunotherapies was in the treatment of Hodgkin lymphoma. In an early-phase clinical trial, research showed nivolumab, a drug that unleashes the immune system to attack cancer cells, achieved complete or partial remissions in Hodgkin lymphoma patients with resistant forms of the disease. The success of nivolumab in this study prompted the …

Continue reading

The Latest Research and Treatment for Blood Cancers and Disorders

research, multiple myeloma

In the treatment of blood cancers and disorders, doctors and researchers are focusing their sights on the immune system and how to bolster its ability to fight off diseases like leukemia, lymphoma and multiple myeloma. “Understanding how you control the immune system is a big theme in treatment for these diseases,” says David A. Williams, MD, chief of Hematology/Oncology and director of Clinical and Translational Research at Boston Children’s Hospital and associate chair of Pediatric Oncology at Dana-Farber. “We’re increasingly understanding how cancer tones down the immune system, allowing us to design treatment to turn the immune system back up …

Continue reading

Listen: Dr. Sidney Farber Discusses Cancer Research in 1951 Radio Broadcast

PF_Young Farber

In the 1940s, children diagnosed with leukemia had a grim prognosis; there was essentially nothing doctors could offer to treat the young patients, other than cortisone therapy to help with side effects of the disease. But in 1948, Dana-Farber founder Sidney Farber, MD, believed a drug that blocked folic acid would shut down the production of abnormal bone marrow associated with leukemia. After a trial of this drug proved effective in a group of young patients, Farber published his discovery to the New England Journal of Medicine. Although it was met with some skepticism, it would prove to be the first of many important advances spearheaded …

Continue reading

Latest Research Shows Progress in Fight Against Lung Cancer

SOG_7976_11

Lung cancer, which causes more deaths worldwide than any other malignancy, is revealing its vulnerabilities under a sustained assault from science. Many of the most recent advances against the disease have a long pedigree at Dana-Farber. It was 10 years ago, in fact, that Dana-Farber scientists and elsewhere showed non-small cell lung cancers that carry a mutation in the gene EGFR are susceptible to a targeted drug. That discovery, which ushered in the era of personalized medicine for lung cancer, has lengthened the lives of tens of thousands of patients around the world. Today it is a standard procedure in …

Continue reading