Graft Sculpting Brings New Approach to Stem Cell Therapy for Highest Risk AML Patients 

A novel hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) method utilizing ‘graft sculpting’ is being tested in a phase 1 clinical trial in patients with refractory acute myeloid leukemia (AML) or myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) who are at the highest risk of relapse after ‘standard’ transplants. In fact, the patients in the trial don’t qualify for a standard … Read more

Dana-Farber Researchers Use Machine Learning to Understand Rare Familial Blood Cancer

Waldenström’s macroglobulinemia (WM) is a blood cancer that is extremely rare, affecting around 1500 people in the US each year. About 20 percent of those cases are considered familial, meaning that many members of the same family also have some form of blood cancer, such as myeloma or lymphoma.  An even smaller group — five … Read more

Study Reveals Inherited Risk Genes for Ewing Sarcoma

A study led by Dana-Farber researchers has revealed that inherited variations in certain DNA damage repair genes may increase an individual’s susceptibility to Ewing sarcoma, an aggressive cancer that tends to strike teenagers and young adults. Ewing sarcoma is rare, with only about one in a million cases diagnosed annually in the United States, and … Read more

Research Into Cellular Recycling System Reveals New Vulnerability in Pancreatic Cancer

Pancreatic cancer cells operate a recycling program that would be the envy of any municipality — but the only beneficiaries are the cells themselves. All cells in the body recycle minerals and nutrients, removing them from storage and breaking them down them for re-use. But in cancer cells, this process, known as autophagy — literally, … Read more

Donor Transplants Paved the Way for Today’s Immune and Cellular Therapies

To understand the genesis of the bone marrow transplant field, go back to the detonation, in 1945, of the first nuclear weapons and the shadow of the Atomic Age. The search for ways to rescue the blood-forming and immune systems of individuals exposed to high doses of radiation provided the impetus for donor bone marrow … Read more

Study Shows How PARP Inhibitors Can Be Empowered in Breast Cancer

Logic said that drugs known as PARP inhibitors would work as well ­— and perhaps even better — in breast cancer marked by BRCA gene mutations than in ovarian cancer carrying the same abnormalities. Clinical results said otherwise. Patients with relapsed, BRCA-mutated ovarian cancer survive longer, overall, with PARP inhibitor treatment than any other therapy. … Read more

Exercise Hormone Reduces Parkinson’s Disease-Associated Brain Degeneration and Symptoms in Animal Model

An exercise-related hormone, irisin, administered to animals with a model of Parkinson’s disease reduced nerve degeneration and symptoms associated with the progressive movement disorder, say scientists from Dana-Farber and Johns Hopkins Medicine. About one million people in the United States, and 10 million people worldwide are living with Parkinson’s, which is characterized by tremors, slowed … Read more

What are Tyrosine Kinases?

Technically speaking, a tyrosine kinase is an enzyme that transfers a compound called a phosphate group from ATP — a molecule that stores energy — to a specific area on cell proteins. It helps transmit the signals that cause cells to grow and divide and to perform specific functions in the body such as burning … Read more

Study Provides First In-Depth Look at Major Mix-Ups in the Genomic Terrain of Pediatric High-Grade Glioma

Two major obstacles once stood in the way of exploring the basic biology of diffuse midline glioma in children. And one of them was the brain itself. The cancer, a subtype of high-grade glioma, forms in some of the most critical parts of the brain, in regions that control such basic functions as breathing, swallowing, … Read more

Rare but Deadly Cancer is Focus of First-Ever Conference and New Clinical Trials

With its deep experience in studying the rare, often lethal cancer known as NUT carcinoma, Dana-Farber Brigham Cancer Center attracts patients and families, some from far away. Unfortunately, NUT carcinoma is so rapidly aggressive that “sometimes patients get to Dana-Farber and become too sick to proceed with treatment,” which speaks to the urgent need for … Read more

Turning the Tables: How Some Melanomas Exploit the Immune Response for Their Own Survival

Like a fugitive from justice, cancer cells stake their survival on their ability to remain inconspicuous. In many cases, however, they are decked out in molecules – called tumor-associated antigens and neoantigens – that shout “cancer!” to the immune system and prompt a potent antitumor response. But tumor cells have other means of dodging an … Read more

Study Identifies T Cells That Respond Rapidly to Pre-Surgical Immunotherapy

The results of the phase 2 clinical trial would have been impressive even if they didn’t involve a particularly stubborn form of cancer. In the trial, led by Dana-Farber’s Jonathan Schoenfeld, MD, MPH, 29 patients with locally advanced squamous cell cancer of the oral cavity were treated with one or two immune checkpoint inhibitors — … Read more

Study Describes Mechanism of Chromosomal Disarray in Cancer Cells

Picture a floor strewn with broken crockery, hastily and haphazardly pieced back together, and you’ll have a sense of the chromosomal chaos inside many cancer cells. In a phenomenon known as chromothripsis, a chromosome or piece of chromosome shatters and reassembles almost randomly, mangling its genetic information. It’s a common feature of cancer cells, found … Read more

Study Explores Inequities in Acute Leukemia Clinical Trial Participation

While some racial and ethnic groups have been underrepresented in clinical trials of therapies for lung cancer, breast cancer and other malignancies, researchers speculated that the situation might be different for adult leukemia trials. The unique features of the disease — the speed with which it needs to be treated after diagnosis, the delivery of … Read more

Study Points to Link Between Genetic Ancestry and Genetic Signature of Lung Cancer

Even as science has removed all doubt about the link between environmental factors like tobacco smoke and lung cancer, the role of genetics in people’s risk of the disease has been much harder to pin down. A study by Dana-Farber investigators provides new evidence that, in people with lung cancer, genetic ancestry can influence the … Read more

FDA Approves New Treatment Option For Glioma

In an era when targeted therapies are often effective against multiple types of cancer, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s accelerated approval of a two-drug therapy for solid tumors carrying a specific mutation in the BRAF gene is a prime example of this trend. For patients with glioma brain cancer that harbors the mutation, the … Read more

New Strategy Aims to ‘Soften Up’ Tumors for Attack by Natural Killer Cells

Scientists are stepping up efforts to deploy natural killer (NK) cells — the body’s first responders against infected and malignant cells — to combat cancer. Treatment using NK cells from healthy donors has shown promise, but currently successes have been limited and the cells lack staying power in the body. While some researchers are working … Read more