Study Suggests Novel Way of Spurring Immune Attack on B Cell Cancers

Infection with the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is a rite of passage for most of humanity. More than 90 percent of all people on earth contract the virus — most in early childhood — with no ill consequences, because the immune system keeps it under control. When the immune response is dampened by immunosuppressive drugs or … Continued

Form of Artificial Intelligence Proves Superior in Identifying Inherited Cancer-Related DNA Variants

A new “deep learning” form of artificial intelligence outperformed standard methods in identifying cancer patients with inherited DNA alterations that could increase their risk of developing cancer or improve their response to certain targeted cancer drugs. Dana-Farber researchers led by Saud H. AlDubayan, MD, and Eliezer Van Allen, MD, report in JAMA that the analytical … Continued

Combination Immunotherapy Holds Promise for Patients with Rare Bladder Cancer

A woman recently came to Bradley McGregor, MD, an oncologist at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, in severe pain with extreme fatigue. Her squamous cell bladder cancer, a rare type for which traditional treatment is generally less effective, had advanced, and it appeared that she had no other options. But timing is everything. McGregor was conducting a … Continued

The Latest Efforts in Precision Oncology for Advanced Prostate Cancer

The management of advanced prostate cancer is rapidly evolving with the application of precision treatments based on genomic testing of tumors’ altered DNA. With recent biomarker-driven drug approvals and increased clinical use of genomic testing, there are a number of opportunities to expand upon this framework. Researchers are calling for increased collaboration and new strategies. … Continued

The Latest on Dana-Farber AIDS/HIV Research

The development of antiviral drug “cocktails” for AIDS in the mid-1990s has saved and extended the lives of millions of people around the world, but much more work is needed before the disease is truly vanquished. Despite significant advances in treatment and expanded efforts to slow the spread of the disease, AIDS remains a global … Continued

Study Identifies Genes That Help Drive Growth in Melanoma Subtypes

Favoritism or impartiality? Do the four genomic subtypes of melanoma have a bias toward certain mutated genes and gene pathways, or do they welcome all mutations equally? Answering that question has been especially difficult because of cutaneous melanoma’s high mutation rate — the profusion of misspelled, severed, out-of-place, missing-in-action, or overabundant genes found in melanoma … Continued

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 Combination 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