Institute Researchers Take Lead in Trials of Potential COVID-19 Therapies

Insights from decades of cancer research are surprisingly transferable to the battle against COVID-19. The desire to save life and ease suffering that motivates cancer researchers has been directed to the new disease as well. Drawing on their knowledge of cancer drug mechanisms, and of the adverse side effects of some of those drugs, Dana-Farber … Continued

Scientists Find Immune Signal in Human Cells Has Ancient Pedigree

Human cells in distress — either because they’re infected by a virus or have become cancerous — have a formidable army of defenders at their disposal: white blood cells and other agents of the immune system that can come to the rescue. Bacterial cells aren’t as fortunate. Living in colonies of their own kind, they … Continued

Researchers Identify Antibodies That Could Work Against Coronavirus

Dana-Farber researchers, with colleagues at Columbia University and the National Institutes of Health, have identified a diverse set of antibodies that effectively neutralize the coronavirus responsible for COVID-19, a key step in the development of agents to treat and prevent the disease. As reported in Nature, the antibodies exhibited “exquisite potency” against the virus, thwarting … Continued

Unusual Case Reveals How Some Tumors Resist Immunotherapy

The intriguing case of a man with melanoma tumors that responded in different ways to the same checkpoint-blocking drug has yielded an important clue to the causes of resistance to immunotherapy treatments, according to Dana-Farber researchers. The findings could help guide the use of immunotherapy in individual patients. The 74-year-old patient, described in a report … Continued

Common Gene-Editing Tool Found to Have Unexpected Effect on Cells

As a tool for editing cell DNA, the protein Cas9 is prized for its precision, its ability to snip DNA at specific locations without producing repercussions elsewhere in the genome. On the basis of a recent study by Dana-Farber scientists, that reputation for unobtrusiveness will have to be revised. In a paper in Nature Genetics, … Continued

What Researchers Need to Learn About COVID-19 — And How You Can Help

By Wayne Marasco, MD, PhD, Professor in the Dana-Farber Department of Cancer Immunology and Virology and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School Many millions of people around the globe have had COVID-19. The vast majority of people have recovered, but several hundreds of thousands of people have died from the virus. This pandemic has had … Continued

COVID-19 Antibody Tests: What We Know and What We Don’t

By Wayne Marasco, MD, PhD, Professor in the Dana-Farber Department of Cancer Immunology and Virology and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School There is great hope surrounding the release of COVID-19 antibody tests, which could determine whether a person has developed immunity to the virus. We would all benefit if the test results could … Continued

Dana-Farber Clinical Research Stays on Track During COVID-19

The resilience shown by cancer care providers during the coronavirus crisis is in equal supply among those involved in clinical research. The strict protocols associated with these studies — rules on eligibility, consent, criteria for tracking response, data collection and analysis — might seem to allow little of the flexibility needed in the COVID-19 era. … Continued

Approval of Myeloma Drug Improves Patients’ Prospects

Five years into his treatment for multiple myeloma, Mark Young was attending a Dana-Farber conference to learn about the latest research in the disease when his oncologist — Paul Richardson, MD, clinical program leader and director of clinical research at the Institute’s Jerome Lipper Multiple Myeloma Center — came running up with some timely news. … Continued

Institute Researchers at Forefront of Development of Antibody Therapy for COVID-19

As scientists race to develop and test new treatments for COVID-19, Dana-Farber’s Wayne Marasco, MD, PhD, and his lab team are bringing one of the world’s most formidable resources to the effort: a “library” of 27 billion human antibodies against viruses, bacteria, and other bodily invaders. The collection, created by Marasco and his associates in … Continued

Project Takes Step Toward Mapping Major Cancer-Causing Gene Mutations

A massive international effort has taken a big step toward mapping all the major cancer-causing mutations in the human genome, generating new knowledge about how tumors form. The extensive role played by large-scale structural mutations in cancer was among the findings of the Pan-Cancer Analysis of Whole Genomes (PCAWG) Project, according to Rameen Beroukhim, MD, … Continued

Breaking the Binary: Building Transvisibility in Cancer Genetic Counseling

This article was written by Donna Vatnick, BS, clinical research coordinator in Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s Center for Cancer Genetics and Prevention. Historically, cancer risk has been confined to the binary: male versus female. After the discovery of BRCA1 and BRCA2 in the mid-90s, testing of these genes was most often recommended to women. The substantially … Continued

Immunotherapy for Blood Cancers: What’s New?

Immunotherapy for cancer has made some of its biggest inroads against hematologic malignancies such as leukemia and lymphoma, with treatments such as checkpoint inhibitors and CAR T-cell therapies producing long-lasting remissions in some patients. But there’s broad agreement that the potential of such therapies has only begun to be tapped and that combining immunotherapy drugs … Continued

Approval of First ‘Epigenetic’ Drug for a Solid Tumor is Milestone

The approval of the drug tazemetostat to treat epithelioid sarcomas is a victory for patients and a vindication of the idea that success may take different forms in different cancers. It’s also an affirmation of the value of research at Dana-Farber that began in the early 2000s with basic science discoveries and progressed into clinical … Continued

Researchers Identify New Source of Drug Resistance in Prostate Cancer

For designers of targeted drugs, the biggest bullseye in prostate cancer has been the androgen receptor — a specialized net on prostate cells that snares androgen molecules to spur the cells’ growth. Drugs that block, or inhibit, the receptor can halt the cancer, but not all patients benefit from them, and nearly all those who … Continued

Scientists Reveal How Lung Cancer Cancer Cells Avoid Death from Targeted Drugs

Perhaps the biggest challenge in precision cancer therapy is tumors’ nasty habit of rebounding after an initial attack with targeted drugs has shrunk them almost out of existence. Instead of vanishing completely, curing the patient, the tumors leave behind a small cadre of cells that slumber in a dormant state, only to return in a … Continued

New Studies Show Promise in Treatment of NUT Carcinoma

Medically reviewed by Geoffrey Shapiro, MD, PhD, and Christopher French, MD Although it is one of the most aggressive solid tumors in humans, NUT carcinoma responds better to treatment in some patients than others. But because it is rare — with only 20 to 30 cases diagnosed annually in the United States — doctors have … Continued

Scientists Capture Revealing Images of Molecular Cancer Switch

Medically reviewed by Michael J. Eck, MD, PhD Scientists have captured the most complete picture yet of a key molecular switch that is sometimes jammed in the “on” position in cancers. With the aid of recent advances in a tool known as cryo-electron microscopy, which can obtain crisp 3D images of large biological molecules, Dana-Farber … Continued

The Most Significant Cancer Research Advances of the 2010s

It was a decade that began with the electrifying results of a clinical trial for a revolutionary new cancer therapy and ended with a Nobel Prize in Medicine for very different cancer-related research. In between those dramatic bookends, the 2010s were packed with progress, with discoveries leading to the FDA’s 2017 approval of the first … Continued