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 … Continued

Study Chronicles the Evolution of a Tumor in Unprecedented Detail

Tumors are scrupulous recorders of their own life stories. The wreckage they acquire as a result of therapy, the stratagems they use to survive and dodge an immune attack are all inscribed in their DNA and the set of immune system cells within them. Unfortunately for science, the autobiography of a tumor rarely consists of … Continued

Scientists Attack ‘Undruggable’ Cancer Protein with Targeted Nanoparticles

A protein that normally serves useful functions in the body like helping wounds heal and repairing damaged tissues is also high on scientists’ “most wanted” list of cancer culprits. Called STAT3, the protein has been found to be overactive in a variety of cancers — including breast cancer — driving malignant growth, survival, and metastasis. … Continued

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 … Continued

Scientists Seek to Expand ‘Universe’ of Drug Targets in Cancer

Cancer drugs like Gleevec or Herceptin, which were approved for us in the 1990s, prompted hopes of transforming cancer care and perhaps render harsh treatments like chemotherapy obsolete. Known as precision or targeted therapies, these drugs are designed to block the action of specific mutated genes or proteins that drive malignant tumor growth, while sparing … Continued

Which Older Patients with MDS Are Most Likely to Benefit from Transplant?

New treatment approaches have increased the number of older patients with myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) eligible for a stem cell transplant. Now, Dana-Farber research has identified those that are most likely to benefit from one. In a prospective study involving patients age 60 to 75 with advanced MDS, investigators found that participants at high risk of … Continued

Researchers Focus on How to Invigorate ‘Exhausted’ T Cells in Immunotherapy

Despite the sometimes-dramatic success of new cancer immunotherapies like checkpoint inhibitor drugs and CAR T cells, thus far only a minority of patients have responded or gained long-lasting benefits. A major reason for the inconsistent results of immunotherapy is a phenomenon known as “T-cell exhaustion” — a weakening or loss of tumor-killing function by T … Continued

Study Uncovers Potent Immunotherapy Approach to Ovarian Cancer Treatment

Immune therapies declare open season on cancer, rousing immune system cells to take up an attack on tumors. But which immune cells join the hunt, which sit it out, and what happens within immune cells that causes them to go on the offensive? Such questions are especially relevant when immunotherapies show only limited effectiveness against … Continued

Looking for Cancer’s Achilles Heel: The Pediatric Cancer Dependency Map

Thanks to developments in precision medicine, some adult cancers are now treated with designer drugs that target the genetic mutations that caused them. But most children with cancer have not reaped the same benefits. Unlike adult cancers, childhood cancers carry few genetic mutations. And the mutations these tumors do have are typically harder to make … Continued

mRNA Takes Center Stage in COVID-19 Vaccine and Cancer Research

Having come to fame as the basis of the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines for COVID-19, messenger RNA — or mRNA — is in many ways the molecule of the moment. Its newfound prominence is also raising its profile as a powerful tool in cancer research. Scientists are using it learn how cancer cells sometimes disarm … Continued

What are TILs and How Are They Used in Cancer Treatment?

A form of immune cell therapy for cancer known as tumor infiltrating lymphocyte, or TIL, therapy, involves removing immune T cells from a piece of the patient’s tumor — where the T cells have succeeded in recognizing the cancer — expanding them outside the body, and re-infusing them by the billions to fight the disease. … Continued

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