Rally to Support Cancer Research Today

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.

Thousands of advocates, cancer survivors, researchers, caregivers, business leaders, and members of the general public gathered to support sustained funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the country’s largest funder of health-related research. Dana-Farber researchers Ken Anderson, MDJudy Garber, MD, MPH; William Hahn, MD, PhD; and Kornelia Polyak, MD, PhD, were there. The rally was also streamed live on YouTube.

At the AACR meeting, more than 6,000 researchers are presenting their findings. Some of the important discoveries from Dana-Farber researchers include:

A new blood test revealed more of the important gene mutations within certain digestive-tract cancers than did the traditional method of analyzing DNA in small bits of tumor tissue. The test, studied in patients with gastrointestinal stromal tumors, may help doctors identify the full range of mutations to be attacked with targeted therapies.

A drug-and-antibody tandem showed promise in a phase 1 clinical trial involving patients with a drug-resistant form of ovarian cancer. The two-agent compound offers a way to deliver the drug directly to cancer cells with potentially less harm to healthy tissues and organs.

A novel combination of two drugs showed anticancer activity in patients who had incurable solid tumors and carried an inherited mutation in their BRCA genes. A phase 1 clinical trial tested the drugs sapacitabine and seliciclib, which kill cancer cells by damaging their DNA and interfering with their ability to repair it.