High-tech devices that flow cancer cells over a miniaturized “scale” to measure changes in the weight of single living cells are increasingly being used to test the susceptibility of cancer cells to different drugs. The devices are so sensitive that they can measure a change in growth rate of a cell within hours or days … Continued
Six years’ worth of repeated surgeries, radiation, and chemotherapy with three different agents failed to halt the growth of Frances Zichichi’s brain tumor. As it kept recurring and more surgeries were required, Zichichi lost the use of her left side. Eventually the cancer formed masses under her scalp, causing pain, which was dulled only with … Continued
This post originally appeared on Vector, Boston Children’s Hospital’s blog. While the genetic mutations driving adult cancers can sometimes be targeted with drugs, most pediatric cancers lack good targets. That’s because their driving genetic alterations often create fusion proteins that aren’t easy for drugs to attack. “This is one reason why it is notoriously hard … Continued
One of the biggest challenges in treating cancer is that the cells making up a tumor – say a breast or lung tumor – are enormously diverse, or heterogeneous. This tumor heterogeneity can be both genetic, meaning the DNA in the tumor cells differs from one cell to the next, and epigenetic, meaning that the … Continued
One of the primary goals of breast cancer research is to personalize the treatment of the disease, tailoring therapies to the specific characteristics of each patient’s cancer. “The future of breast cancer therapy is tied to the idea of individualizing treatment for each patient—not only to the stage and subtype of the cancer but also … Continued
As new treatments for multiple myeloma have extended patient survival—from an average of three years to more than 10 in some cases—physicians and researchers face a new challenge: how to predict a drug’s long-term effectiveness? How to tell, early on, whether one drug is likely to extend patients’ lives more than another? At Dana-Farber’s Jerome Lipper … Continued
In recent years, there has been a dearth of clinical trials studying new approaches to how endometrial cancer, which forms in the lining of the uterus, is treated. That is changing rapidly, however, as basic research into the disease spurs the testing of novel drugs and drug combinations. A host of clinical trials—including four led … Continued
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
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
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
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, 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
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
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
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
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
A study by Dana-Farber scientists and an international team of researchers could lead to better treatments for patients with smoldering multiple myeloma, a condition that often precedes myeloma.
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.
A recent discovery about prostate cancer suggests potential new targeted therapeutic strategies for this disease.
In a significant step toward more personalized treatment for patients with breast cancer, a recent clinical trial found that many women with an early stage of the disease do not need chemotherapy after surgery to remove the tumor.