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

Immunotherapy for Pediatric Solid Tumors: What’s the Latest?

Medically reviewed by Natalie Collins, MD, PhD New treatments that spur the immune system against cancer have entered the clinic to combat some forms of pediatric blood cancers, such as acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). One form of immunotherapy, CAR T cells, has been approved for children and young adults with ALL. In treating solid tumors … Continued

New Study Reports “Curative Potential” of a Combination Therapy for Some Leukemia Patients

Medically reviewed by Matthew Davids, MD, MMSc Chemoimmunotherapy combined with a targeted drug given for two years has achieved undetectable minimal residual disease (MRD) for a high proportion of younger patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), Dana-Farber scientists report. The phase 2 clinical trial results are so favorable that they represent a step toward “a … Continued

Study Implicates Failure of DNA Damage Repair in BRCA1 Breast Cancer

Medically reviewed by David Livingston, MD It’s been known for decades that a mutated BRCA1 gene in a woman’s breast cells sharply increases her lifetime risk of breast cancer. What has eluded scientists, however, is a detailed understanding of how the loss of BRCA1 function leads normal breast cells down the path to malignancy. Now, … Continued

Scientists Identify Genes Tied to Increased Risk of Ovarian Cancer

Medically reviewed by Alexander Gusev, PhD A team of Dana-Farber scientists and their associates has identified 34 genes associated with an increased risk of developing earliest-stage ovarian cancer. The findings, published in the journal Nature Genetics, will both help identify women who have the highest risk of developing ovarian cancer and pave the way for identifying … Continued

Double Strike Against Tumor Protein Shows Promise in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

Medically reviewed by Pasi A Jänne, MD, PhD Imagine inserting a key to shut off an engine only to find that it no longer fits — that the configuration of the lock has been changed without notice. Scientists developing targeted therapies to treat cancer often face a similar conundrum. Targeted therapies derive their effectiveness from … Continued

Study Finds Advantage for African Americans with Multiple Myeloma

In a surprising rebuttal of previous findings, a new study shows that African Americans with multiple myeloma have an overall higher survival rate than Caucasians with the disease when all patients have equal access to cutting-edge therapies. The results raise questions about the biology of this type of cancer. Multiple myeloma, a cancer that arises … Continued

Research Shows Minor Subsets of Tumor Cells Play Major Role in Metastasis

Medically reviewed by Kornelia Polyak, MD, PhD In the jostling, jockeying mob of cell populations within a malignant tumor, the most inconspicuous groups can be the most dangerous. In a new study, Dana-Farber scientists show that in some breast cancers, two small factions of cells cooperate to drive metastasis but don’t directly interact with each … Continued

Discovery Suggests Potential New Target for Pain Control

Scientists have discovered a previously unknown mechanism in mice that influences their ability to feel pain. The discovery suggests the possibility of new approaches to treating pain in humans that are an alternative to opioid drugs. The scientists, reporting in the journal Science, found that the production of prostaglandins in white blood cells depends on … Continued

PARP Inhibitor Drugs Found to Have Hidden Talent

Designed to subvert tumor cells from within, a growing number of cancer drugs have also been found to have other talents. In the last few years, scientists have discovered that targeted drugs known as CDK4/6 inhibitors and certain chemotherapy agents not only hamper the internal workings of cancer cells but can also make them the … Continued

Dana-Farber Experts Aid Ambitious Projects One Cell at a Time

Like ambitious cartographers bent on mapping entire countries down to their individual houses, scientists are using state-of-the-art methods to create two mammoth atlases — one aimed at mapping human cells of every type, and the other a 3D atlas of every molecular feature of cancer as it develops, spreads, and responds to treatment. The Human … Continued

Crowdsourcing Yields AI-Based Tool to Improve Radiation Therapy in Lung Cancer

Crowdsourcing is an increasingly powerful approach for fueling innovation in many sectors but has not been routinely applied in academic medicine. Scientists at Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center are exploring ways to harness this method for solutions to pressing clinical problems, such as the worldwide shortage of radiation oncologists. Their work has led to the development of … Continued

New Drug Target Found in Subset of Metastatic Prostate Cancers

Medically reviewed by Himisha Beltran, MD Prostate cancer, when diagnosed early, can be a very treatable disease. Even advanced prostate cancer has treatment options. But some advanced, metastatic prostate cancers become resistant to standard therapies by shapeshifting into a different type of cancer, called small cell neuroendocrine prostate cancer. These neuroendocrine tumors tend to be … Continued