Research Update: Scientists Present Novel Ways of Treating Blood Cancers and Diseases

Dana-Farber scientists presented an abundance of new research at the 60th American Society of Hematology (ASH) Annual Meeting and Exposition, held December 1-4 in San Diego. Their research spanned the gamut of hematological diseases, including leukemia, lymphoma, multiple myeloma, and myelodysplastic syndrome—as well as treatment modalities, such as stem cell transplantation and CAR T-cell therapy. A … Continued

ctDNA: Bringing ‘liquid biopsies’ to pediatric solid tumors

This post originally appeared on Vector, Boston Children’s Hospital’s blog. Our blood carries tiny amounts of DNA from broken-up cells. If we have cancer, some of that DNA comes from tumor cells. Studies performed with adult cancers have shown that this circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) may offer crucial clues about tumor genetic mutations and how … Continued

New Research Effort Aims to Improve Treatment for Sickle Cell Disease

Emmanuel “Manny” Johnson, Jr., shares many loves with his little brother, Aiden—from basketball to video games. One thing he wishes they did not share is sickle cell disease (SCD), so Manny is playing a role in a new effort to improve treatment for patients like seven-year-old Aiden, himself, and others living with the inherited blood … Continued

From Slovakia to Boston: One Researcher’s Journey to Dana-Farber

In recounting her odyssey from Slovakian high school exchange student to Dana-Farber principal investigator, Zuzana Tothova, MD, PhD, often says modestly, “I was very lucky.” Perhaps. But it’s also true that, at pivotal points in her journey, Tothova was recognized as a person of exceptional promise, with mentors encouraging her and taking extra steps to … Continued

Immunotherapy Shows Benefit in Hard-to-Treat Breast Cancer

While immunotherapy has brought an impressive new option to several types of cancer, drugs that harness the immune system to fight cancer haven’t shown a significant benefit in treating breast cancer—until now. According to a new clinical trial report, published in Th­­e New England Journal of Medicine, a combination of chemotherapy and immunotherapy achieved better … Continued

Study Finds Source of PARP Inhibitor Drug Resistance

It may not be sporting to hit someone when they’re down, but when the foe is a cancer cell, there’s no merit in mercy. That’s the principle behind drugs known as PARP inhibitors. Tumor cells that lack effective BRCA genes have difficulty repairing certain kinds of DNA damage, potentially leaving them vulnerable to agents that … Continued

Thalidomide reveals path for targeting “undruggable” transcription factors for cancer treatment

Thalidomide, a morning-sickness drug recalled in the 1960s because it caused devastating birth defects, is now commonly used to treat multiple myeloma and other blood cancers. It and its chemical relatives work by causing cells to destroy two proteins — members of a larger family of conventionally “undruggable” proteins called transcription factors — that feature … Continued

Study identifies cause of fragile envelopes in many cancer cells

Desolate as a man stranded on a desert isle may be, he can at least be certain that, barring a tsunami, his refuge won’t crumble into the sea. The castaway chromosomes of cancer cells lack even that degree of assurance. Unlike the chromosomes in normal cells, the chromosomes in some cancer cells aren’t always neatly … Continued

What is a Biomarker?

A biomarker—short for “biological marker”—is something that can be objectively measured and is a sign of a normal or abnormal process, or a condition or disease. A biomarker can be a molecule found in the blood or other body fluids or tissues. Another type of biomarker is a genetic signature or “fingerprint”—a pattern of activity … Continued

‘Organoids’ Could Aid Cancer Drug Selection

Tests on living “organoids” created from patients’ ovarian cancer cells proved more accurate than DNA sequencing in predicting tumors’ sensitivity or resistance to chemotherapy drugs – and combining the two methods worked even better, say scientists at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. The investigators report in Cancer Discovery that ovarian cancer organoids – tiny, three-dimensional spheres of cells … Continued

Study Resolves Decades-Long Mystery About the Most Commonly Mutated Gene in Cancer

The most commonly mutated gene in cancer has tantalized scientists for decades with the message of its mutations. Although mutations can occur at more than 1,100 sites within the TP53 gene, they arise with greatest frequency at a handful of points dubbed “hot spots.” Does this imbalance suggest that hotspot mutations are especially conducive to … Continued

5 Recent Advancements in Pediatric Cancer Treatment

From new immunotherapy treatments to improved understanding of the genetic mechanisms of pediatric tumors, the past year has brought many important advances against childhood cancers. We sat down with Scott Armstrong, MD, PhD, chair of Pediatric Oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, to discuss some of these developments. CAR T-Cell Therapy for Relapsed ALL A CAR … Continued

Discovery May Improve Immunotherapy for Melanoma

Scientists at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center (DF/BWCC) have identified biomarkers in melanoma that could help tailor immunotherapy treatments to maximize the benefits for patients while reducing the likelihood of severe side effects.

The Latest Advancements in Immunotherapy for Adult Leukemia

As scientists have learned more about the intricate workings of the immune system, they’ve developed new forms of immunotherapy that have been approved for the treatment of leukemia or are being clinically tested in patients.