New Study Reports “Curative Potential” of a Combination Therapy for Some Leukemia Patients

Medically reviewed by Matthew Davids, MD, MMSc Chemoimmunotherapy combined with a targeted drug given for two years has achieved undetectable minimal residual disease (MRD) for a high proportion of younger patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), Dana-Farber scientists report. The phase 2 clinical trial results are so favorable that they represent a step toward “a … Continued

Study Implicates Failure of DNA Damage Repair in BRCA1 Breast Cancer

Medically reviewed by David Livingston, MD It’s been known for decades that a mutated BRCA1 gene in a woman’s breast cells sharply increases her lifetime risk of breast cancer. What has eluded scientists, however, is a detailed understanding of how the loss of BRCA1 function leads normal breast cells down the path to malignancy. Now, … Continued

Scientists Identify Genes Tied to Increased Risk of Ovarian Cancer

Medically reviewed by Alexander Gusev, PhD A team of Dana-Farber scientists and their associates has identified 34 genes associated with an increased risk of developing earliest-stage ovarian cancer. The findings, published in the journal Nature Genetics, will both help identify women who have the highest risk of developing ovarian cancer and pave the way for identifying … Continued

Double Strike Against Tumor Protein Shows Promise in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

Medically reviewed by Pasi A Jänne, MD, PhD Imagine inserting a key to shut off an engine only to find that it no longer fits — that the configuration of the lock has been changed without notice. Scientists developing targeted therapies to treat cancer often face a similar conundrum. Targeted therapies derive their effectiveness from … Continued

Study Finds Advantage for African Americans with Multiple Myeloma

In a surprising rebuttal of previous findings, a new study shows that African Americans with multiple myeloma have an overall higher survival rate than Caucasians with the disease when all patients have equal access to cutting-edge therapies. The results raise questions about the biology of this type of cancer. Multiple myeloma, a cancer that arises … Continued

Research Shows Minor Subsets of Tumor Cells Play Major Role in Metastasis

Medically reviewed by Kornelia Polyak, MD, PhD In the jostling, jockeying mob of cell populations within a malignant tumor, the most inconspicuous groups can be the most dangerous. In a new study, Dana-Farber scientists show that in some breast cancers, two small factions of cells cooperate to drive metastasis but don’t directly interact with each … Continued

Discovery Suggests Potential New Target for Pain Control

Scientists have discovered a previously unknown mechanism in mice that influences their ability to feel pain. The discovery suggests the possibility of new approaches to treating pain in humans that are an alternative to opioid drugs. The scientists, reporting in the journal Science, found that the production of prostaglandins in white blood cells depends on … Continued

PARP Inhibitor Drugs Found to Have Hidden Talent

Designed to subvert tumor cells from within, a growing number of cancer drugs have also been found to have other talents. In the last few years, scientists have discovered that targeted drugs known as CDK4/6 inhibitors and certain chemotherapy agents not only hamper the internal workings of cancer cells but can also make them the … Continued

Dana-Farber Experts Aid Ambitious Projects One Cell at a Time

Like ambitious cartographers bent on mapping entire countries down to their individual houses, scientists are using state-of-the-art methods to create two mammoth atlases — one aimed at mapping human cells of every type, and the other a 3D atlas of every molecular feature of cancer as it develops, spreads, and responds to treatment. The Human … Continued

Crowdsourcing Yields AI-Based Tool to Improve Radiation Therapy in Lung Cancer

Crowdsourcing is an increasingly powerful approach for fueling innovation in many sectors but has not been routinely applied in academic medicine. Scientists at Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center are exploring ways to harness this method for solutions to pressing clinical problems, such as the worldwide shortage of radiation oncologists. Their work has led to the development of … Continued

New Drug Target Found in Subset of Metastatic Prostate Cancers

Medically reviewed by Himisha Beltran, MD Prostate cancer, when diagnosed early, can be a very treatable disease. Even advanced prostate cancer has treatment options. But some advanced, metastatic prostate cancers become resistant to standard therapies by shapeshifting into a different type of cancer, called small cell neuroendocrine prostate cancer. These neuroendocrine tumors tend to be … Continued

Scientists Identify Pathway Driving Natural Killer Cell Activity

Medically reviewed by Laurie H. Glimcher, MD, and Rizwan Romee, MD Immune cells called natural killer (NK) cells are a key arm of the body’s defenses against infections and cancers, but what provokes them into action is less well understood than some other immune components such as T cells. “Critical gaps in our knowledge regarding … Continued

How are bispecific antibodies being used to treat blood cancers?

Many of the immunotherapy drugs that are transforming the treatment of certain types of cancer are based on antibodies — artificial proteins that latch onto a molecular target, called an antigen. Bispecific antibodies, which can bind to two antigens at the same time, are being tested and moving toward clinical use in some blood cancers. … Continued

With precision cancer medicine, a success against endometrial cancer

In the annals of patients who have benefited from Dana-Farber and Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s (BWH) genomic sequencing program Profile, few involve a turnabout as dramatic as one recently reported in Gynecologic Oncology. Authored by nearly a dozen Dana-Farber and BWH faculty, the paper recounts the medical history of a 49-year-old Nebraska woman first diagnosed … Continued

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