Scientists Reveal How Lung Cancer Cancer Cells Avoid Death from Targeted Drugs

Perhaps the biggest challenge in precision cancer therapy is tumors’ nasty habit of rebounding after an initial attack with targeted drugs has shrunk them almost out of existence. Instead of vanishing completely, curing the patient, the tumors leave behind a small cadre of cells that slumber in a dormant state, only to return in a … Continued

New Studies Show Promise in Treatment of NUT Carcinoma

Medically reviewed by Geoffrey Shapiro, MD, PhD, and Christopher French, MD Although it is one of the most aggressive solid tumors in humans, NUT carcinoma responds better to treatment in some patients than others. But because it is rare — with only 20 to 30 cases diagnosed annually in the United States — doctors have … Continued

Scientists Capture Revealing Images of Molecular Cancer Switch

Medically reviewed by Michael J. Eck, MD, PhD Scientists have captured the most complete picture yet of a key molecular switch that is sometimes jammed in the “on” position in cancers. With the aid of recent advances in a tool known as cryo-electron microscopy, which can obtain crisp 3D images of large biological molecules, Dana-Farber … Continued

The Most Significant Cancer Research Advances of the 2010s

It was a decade that began with the electrifying results of a clinical trial for a revolutionary new cancer therapy and ended with a Nobel Prize in Medicine for very different cancer-related research. In between those dramatic bookends, the 2010s were packed with progress, with discoveries leading to the FDA’s 2017 approval of the first … Continued

Nobel Prize Research Was a Winning Formula for Patient with Kidney Cancer

Early on an October morning, Shaun Tierney started a promising new treatment for his stage IV kidney cancer. Anxious to tell his longtime oncologist, he texted Toni Choueiri, MD, director of the Lank Center for Genitourinary Oncology at Dana-Farber. What he didn’t expect was that Choueiri would have his own big news: “Kaelin … Nobel … Continued

What is von Hippel-Lindau Syndrome?

Von Hippel-Lindau syndrome (VHL) is a rare disorder in which tumors and cysts can arise in multiple organs and tissues. It affects about 10,000 people in the United States and is caused by a mutation in the VHL gene. The vast majority of people with the syndrome inherited a mutated copy of VHL from a … Continued

Greater Understanding of How Cells Access Their DNA May Aid Treatments

If you could somehow unroll the DNA from a single one of our cells, the tiny thread would stretch about two meters. Our cells do just the opposite, spooling their DNA astonishingly tightly around proteins, into packages known as nucleosomes. These packages, which together make up our chromatin, need to dynamically open and close at … Continued

Young Investigators Use Patient Samples for Cancer Studies

In their search for better treatments for breast, ovarian, and other cancers, young investigators Jennifer Guerriero, PhD, and Sarah Hill, MD, PhD, rely on a precious commodity — patient tissue samples obtained by surgeons in Dana-Farber’s Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers. Studies of these normal and cancerous tissues, which are collected, banked, and … Continued

Cancer and Oxygen: What’s the Connection?

Medically reviewed by William G. Kaelin, Jr., MD Normal human cells need just the right amount of oxygen — not too much nor too little — to survive and stay healthy. This critical balance is regulated by an intricate oxygen-sensing process in the body, the discovery of which earned the 2019 Nobel Prize in Medicine … Continued

New Drug Benefits Patients With Myeloma Who Are Resistant to All Therapies

Earlier this year, a novel drug became the first agent to receive U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for patients with multiple myeloma who have exhausted all types of currently available therapies, including proteasome inhibitors, immunomodulatory drugs and monoclonal antibodies. A clinical trial found that 26.2 percent of such patients responded with significant shrinkage … Continued

Basic Research Spurs New Wave of Clinical Trials of Therapies for T-Cell Lymphoma

Medically reviewed by David M. Weinstock, MD, and Eric Jacobsen, MD By banding together to study the basic biology and vulnerabilities of T-cell lymphoma, scientists at several major cancer research centers have sparked a surge of clinical trials of promising treatments for the disease. The string of new trials, some already open, some expected to … Continued

Drug Shows Promise as First Definitive Treatment for Rare Anemia

Medically reviewed by Rachael Grace, MD In the mid-1960s, David G. Nathan, MD, president emeritus of Dana-Farber and, at that time, a hematologist at Boston Children’s Hospital, published some of the first reports on a rare, inherited type of anemia caused by the breakdown of red blood cells because of a lack of a key … Continued

Resistance to Targeted Leukemia Drug Lurks in Cells’ “Powerhouse”

Medically reviewed by Catherine J. Wu, MD Within every human cell, a fateful balance prevails. The mitochondria — where nutrients from food are converted into fuel for the cell — serve as a kind of jury box where pro-survival proteins contend with proteins that favor cell death. In the ebb and flow of these proteins, … Continued

Chemical Toolkit Aids Study of Cancer Drug Resistance

Medically reviewed by Jun Qi, PhD Cancer is extremely clever at finding ways to survive, so even the most successful new drugs tend to become less effective over time as the tumors develop resistance. Often, cancer cells become resistant because of changes in the cells’ genetic code, allowing them to counteract or sidestep the drugs’ … Continued

Basic Science Discovery Leads to Clinical Trial for Patients with Chemotherapy-Resistant Form of Ovarian Cancer

Dana-Farber scientists recently uncovered a potential vulnerability in a form of ovarian cancer notoriously resistant to chemotherapy. Now they’ve opened a clinical trial involving a drug that targets that susceptibility in patients with the disease. The impetus for their research is a type of ovarian cancer with excess copies of the cyclinE1 gene (abbreviated CCNE1). … Continued

Making the Immune System Work Against Cancer: A Pioneering Researcher’s Journey

Bone marrow transplantation, which was first developed in the 1970s, was conceived as a way of dealing with the effects of high-dose chemotherapy for leukemia, lymphoma, and other blood-related diseases. The large doses killed diseased blood cells throughout the body but also destroyed the bone marrow, birthplace of new blood cells. By transplanting bone marrow … Continued