New study uncovers strategy for defusing castration-resistant prostate cancer

Cancer is often fueled by hormones, including the male sex hormone testosterone, which spur tumor growth in most forms of prostate cancer. Doctors can defuse this destructive relationship, typically with drugs (or sometimes surgery), but frequently, the tumors adapt or evolve, devising ways to incite cancer growth even in the absence of hormone-driven signals. These … Continued

Study Uncovers Dual Gene-Control System in Multiple Myeloma

The process of converting genetic information from DNA to RNA, known as transcription, is a joint undertaking. Sections of DNA, known as promoters, collaborate with other sections known as enhancers to recast the genetic code into a form that can be used by cells to make proteins. As with many partnerships, however, it hasn’t been … Continued

“Active Loading” Technology Speeds up Single Cell Drug Testing Devices

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

Exceptional Immunotherapy Response Triggers Search for the Cause

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

CRISPR-Cas9 Screen Opens New Targets for Ewing Sarcoma, Other Childhood Cancers

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

Targeting Tumor Heterogeneity To Reduce Treatment Resistance

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

Personalizing Treatment: The Latest in Breast Cancer Research

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

Myeloma Study Makes the Case for a New Standard for Predicting Long-Term Outcome

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

Trials Open New Avenues of Endometrial Cancer Treatment

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

Research Update: Scientists Present Novel Ways of Treating Blood Cancers and Diseases

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

ctDNA: Bringing ‘liquid biopsies’ to pediatric solid tumors

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

From Slovakia to Boston: One Researcher’s Journey to Dana-Farber

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

Study Finds Source of PARP Inhibitor Drug Resistance

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 Reveals Path for Targeting “Undruggable” Transcription Factors for Cancer Treatment

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

Study Identifies Cause of Fragile Envelopes in Many Cancer Cells

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

‘Organoids’ Could Aid Cancer Drug Selection

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

Study Resolves Decades-Long Mystery About the Most Commonly Mutated Gene in Cancer

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

5 Recent Advancements in Pediatric Cancer Treatment

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