Drugs Targeting a Pathway in Glioblastoma Must Clear a High Bar, Study Suggests

Researchers had every reason to expect that a compound called BKM120 (also known as buparlisib) would stifle glioblastoma brain tumors lacking the protein PTEN. After all, it was known to block the tumor-promoting PI3K protein and could easily pass through the blood-brain barrier — the dense layer of cells that guards entry to the brain … Continued

What are Telomeres and How Do They Play a Role in Cancer?

Often likened to the plastic tips on shoelaces that prevent their unraveling, telomeres are molecular structures that cap the ends of chromosomes in cells and protect their DNA from damage. Chromosomes are the rod-like structures that contain the genes and other DNA in cells. Telomeres gradually shorten every time a cell divides, however, resulting in … Continued

What is an Antibody/Drug Conjugate?

Even the best cancer drug is only as good as its ability to reach cancer cells and kill them. Antibody-drug conjugates are targeted agents that package cancer drugs for special delivery to tumor cells to eliminate them. Conjugates are designed to expose tumor cells to the full force of cancer drugs while sparing normal cells … Continued

Venetoclax Combinations Approved for Older Patients with AML

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a novel targeted drug to treat acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) in older patients, a segment of the blood cancer population in dire need of improved therapies. In a phase 3 clinical trial, researchers showed that the oral drug, venetoclax (or Venclexta), when given along with azacitidine, could … Continued

What Does it Mean if My Tumor Has a High Mutational Burden?

Tumors with high mutational burden have a large number of genetic mutations, or misspellings of the genetic code within their cells. Such cancers tend to acquire mutations as a result of exposure to harmful agents such as ultraviolet light or certain chemicals in tobacco. Malignancies that often have a high number of mutations include: Non-small … Continued

Cancer Prevention and Care Resources for Marginalized Patients and Advocates

Cancer does not affect everyone in the same way. A combination of factors, including race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status can make some patients face a greater cancer burden and poorer outcomes in cancer care and treatment. These inequities are called cancer disparities. The causes “are complex and reflect social and economic disparities and … Continued

Biomarker Search Reveals Unexpected Associations in Treatment of Advanced Kidney Cancer

Scientists are gratified when a clinical trial reveals whether one treatment — often an experimental therapy or drug combination — is superior to another. But researchers then often look more deeply into the data, searching for characteristics of tumors associated with a treatment’s effectiveness, or lack of it. In today’s world of precision medicine, identifying … Continued

Novel Compound Blocks Cancer Cells’ Protein Disposal System

Scientists in the lab of Loren Walensky, MD, PhD, have come up with a new twist on the emerging strategy of killing cancer cells by jamming their “garbage disposal” mechanism for getting rid of abnormal or unwanted proteins. Dana-Farber researchers created a novel peptide molecule that binds to a key control point in what’s known … Continued

What are Cancer Disparities and How Are Dana-Farber Researchers Addressing Them?

Despite enormous advances in cancer treatment, some racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups still bear an especially large burden from the disease, with higher incidence rates for many cancers and poorer outcomes. Decades of research has documented these disparities. Among adult patients, for example, African Americans have the highest mortality rate of any racial or ethnic … Continued

Spurring Natural Killer Cells to Fight Head and Neck Cancer

Excited to be the first patient in a novel clinical trial, Jon Woods is hoping that an infusion of immune natural killer cells donated by his son will beat back the metastatic cancer he has battled for four years. “I’m upbeat [and] I’m happy to be a pioneer,” says Woods, 65, a retired postal worker … Continued

Study Identifies Candidate Combinations for Triple-Negative Breast Cancer

In their quest for effective targeted therapies to treat triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) — an aggressive disease that often doesn’t respond to standard chemotherapy — researchers at Dana-Farber and elsewhere have recently focused on the potential of drugs known as BET bromodomain inhibitors. BET inhibitors target a family of proteins including BRD2, BRD3, BRD4, and … Continued

Diving Into Ependymomas, Hard-to-Treat Pediatric Brain Tumors

Ependymomas are some of the most difficult-to-treat brain tumors. Mariella Filbin, MD, PhD, a neuro-oncologist at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, is driven by a desire to find new therapies for these pediatric brain tumors. At the core of her work is an effort to uncover the events that shape tumor development. Defining how … Continued

New Drug Regimens Show Promise in Early and Late Myeloma

Treatment advances for multiple myeloma continue to bring improved outcomes for patients in different stages of their disease. Recent clinical trial reports show progress in treating two myeloma populations — newly diagnosed, transplant eligible patients, and individuals whose disease has progressed following several lines of therapy. In one trial, the phase 2 GRIFFIN study showed … Continued

Study Finds New Vulnerabilities in Diabetes-Associated Liver Cancer

Liver cancer that develops in people with obesity and Type 2 diabetes is dependent on elevated amounts of a protein that might be targeted for treatment by two existing drugs, say Dana-Farber scientists. The research reported in Cancer Research by Pere Puigserver, PhD, and colleagues pertains specifically to liver cancer in individuals who are obese … Continued

CAR T-Cell Therapy Helps Young Hockey Fan Ice Pediatric Leukemia

Due to COVID-19, Ava Girolimetti doesn’t know if she will be starting middle school this September in a classroom, on a computer screen, or a combination of both. But thanks to CAR T-cell therapy for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), she plans to be there cancer-free. The rising sixth grader can make this claim as one … Continued

Wave of New Therapies Improve Outcomes for Patients with Multiple Myeloma

For many patients with multiple myeloma, a new generation of drugs and drug combinations is producing better outcomes and fewer side effects. In recent months, several novel therapies studied and tested by Dana-Farber scientists have gained approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or taken a step toward approval after posting solid results … Continued

Institute Researchers Take Lead in Trials of Potential COVID-19 Therapies

Insights from decades of cancer research are surprisingly transferable to the battle against COVID-19. The desire to save life and ease suffering that motivates cancer researchers has been directed to the new disease as well. Drawing on their knowledge of cancer drug mechanisms, and of the adverse side effects of some of those drugs, Dana-Farber … Continued

Scientists Find Immune Signal in Human Cells Has Ancient Pedigree

Human cells in distress — either because they’re infected by a virus or have become cancerous — have a formidable army of defenders at their disposal: white blood cells and other agents of the immune system that can come to the rescue. Bacterial cells aren’t as fortunate. Living in colonies of their own kind, they … Continued