Venetoclax Added to Chemotherapy Improves Outcomes in Type of Leukemia

Adding the BCL-2 inhibitor drug venetoclax to a combination chemotherapy regimen significantly improved outcomes in Richter’s syndrome, a rare but deadly complication that develops in some patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), according to a study led by Dana-Farber investigators. The addition of the targeted drug venetoclax to a chemo regimen called R-EPOCH yielded the … Read more

Targeted Drug Found Effective as Initial Treatment for Waldenström Macroglobulinemia

When a clinical trial showed the targeted drug ibrutinib to be highly effective in patients with a form of lymphoma called Waldenström macroglobulinemia, the results were so compelling that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the drug for all patients with the disease, even though the trial included only patients previously treated with other … Read more

Anti-Microbial Drug Targets Key Driver of Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia

Dana-Farber scientists have found that a generic anti-microbial drug can block a key molecular driver of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) cells, and when tested in a small clinical trial of advanced CLL patients who had relapsed, the drug slowed disease progression in half of them. The drug, pyrimethamine, achieved stable disease in eight of the … Read more

Implantable Device Helps Predict Drug Therapy Efficacy

Dana-Farber investigators recently launched a trial of a miniature device that can be implanted into ovarian tumors to deliver microdoses of different drugs, with the goal of rapidly measuring their effectiveness in killing cancer cells. The researchers hope the method could shorten the time needed to determine if a drug is helping a patient, and … Read more

Researchers Solve Mystery of Retinoic Acid’s Potency Against High-Risk Neuroblastoma

For decades, retinoic acid has been a key part of the arsenal against the childhood cancer neuroblastoma. For just as long, scientists have wondered exactly how it works. The answer, Dana-Farber researchers have found, is by reprogramming the activity of two crucial pairs of genes with such precision that the drug almost seems to have … Read more

Study Results Support Stem Cell Transplantation for Older Patients with Myelodysplastic Syndromes

Although stem cell transplantation is the only current therapy with the potential to cure myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS), it is rarely used as an initial treatment for older patients because it hasn’t been proven superior to other therapies. New research by Dana-Farber Cancer Institute investigators stands to overturn that practice. In a clinical trial involving 384 … Read more

New ‘Almanac’ Tool of Tumor Molecular Changes Could Aid Precision Cancer Care

Researchers at Dana-Farber and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard have created a novel Molecular Oncology Almanac that combines an algorithm, or computational method, for interpreting genomic alterations in a patient’s tumor, along with a knowledge base of molecular changes reported to be associated with tumor behavior. They say that the components of this … Read more

Exercise Hormone Irisin Shows Potential for Alzheimer’s Disease Treatment

New research has yielded the strongest evidence yet that irisin, a hormone discovered by Dana-Farber’s Bruce Spiegelman, PhD, that is produced in the body by muscular exercise, can by itself improve cognitive functions and potentially reverse some of the memory-destroying effects of Alzheimer’s disease. Reporting in the journal Nature Metabolism, Spiegelman and co-authors from Massachusetts … Read more

Researchers Set Sights on New Ovarian Cancer Treatment Strategies

Despite breakthrough treatments for high-grade serous ovarian cancer, about 80 percent of patients relapse within two years, often resistant to treatment. The good news is that Dana-Farber scientists are pursuing multiple avenues of research that very well may improve outcomes. “A number of patients develop progressive disease at a later point, potentially indicating that a … Read more

Patient-Derived Ovarian Cancer ‘Organoids’ Aid Precision Oncology Research

The time may not be far off when the treatment for a person’s ovarian cancer can be tailored to their malignancy using drugs selected by testing on “organoids” — miniature 3-D clusters of cancer cells grown from a patient’s own tumor cells. Although ovarian organoid tests are not yet being used to guide treatment decisions, … Read more

How Chromatin Remodelers Find Their Way to DNA

Studies in the lab of Cigall Kadoch, PhD, are shedding new light on how molecular machines called BAF chromatin remodeling complexes “go where they need to go” within the DNA genome of cells, binding to specific locations to govern which genes turn on and off to orchestrate cell functions. The findings, described in the journal … Read more

Study Reveals Factor That Determines ‘Fate’ of Cancer Cells When Tumor Suppressor Gene Function is Restored

Many cancers develop from cells that have a malfunctioning tumor suppressor gene, p53, which normally helps control unchecked cell growth and prevent cancer. Some scientists are pursuing a strategy of restoring p53 gene function in cancer cells to stop their unruly growth or kill them. The exact effects of reviving p53 activity in tumors are … Read more

New ‘Druggable’ Genetic Targets Identified in Rare Type of Bile Duct Cancer

Scientists are beginning to make inroads into treating cholangiocarcinoma, a rare, lethal cancer of the bile ducts, with precision drugs. Last year, the first targeted drug for some patients with the disease was approved. Now, Dana-Farber scientists say they have identified another genetic alteration in a small percentage of cholangiocarcinoma patients that can be attacked … Read more

Study Reveals Promising Combination Therapy for T-Cell Prolymphocytic Leukemia

Cancer cells have a bias toward survival, often becoming heavily reliant on certain protein pathways to sustain themselves. Scientists are finding ways to turn that survival instinct into a liability — by making the cells even more dependent on those pathways, then choking the pathways off. It’s an approach that has now yielded a promising … Read more