News Releases



AACR Congratulates Newest National Academy of Sciences Members164945/5/2016 1:47:21 PM Releases/AllItems.aspx889False2016-05-05T13:45:00Z<div class="ExternalClass640208BC31D841BD97A181CFB75DEB3B"><p>​PHILADELPHIA — The <a href="/Pages/Home.aspx">American Association for Cancer Research </a>(AACR) congratulates its 10 members who have been elected to the <a href="http&#58;//" target="_blank">National Academy of Sciences</a>, including Fellows of the AACR Academy Anton Berns, PhD; Peter A. Jones, PhD, DSc; and Kenneth W. Kinzler, PhD.</p><p>Election to the National Academy of Sciences recognizes an individual’s distinguished and continuing achievements in original research. The Academy elected a total of 84 new members and 21 foreign associates from 14 countries this year.</p><p>The following AACR members were elected to the National Academy of Sciences&#58;</p><p>•&#160;Anton Berns, PhD, FAACR, principal investigator, Netherlands Cancer Institute, Amsterdam;&#160; </p><p>•&#160;Helen M. Blau, PhD, Donald E. and Delia B. Baxter Foundation professor, Baxter Laboratory for Stem Cell Biology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California;</p><p>•&#160;Myles A. Brown, MD, professor of medicine, Harvard Medical School; and director, Center for Functional Cancer Epigenetics, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston;</p><p>•&#160;Raymond J. Deshaies, PhD, investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute; and professor, Division of Biology, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena;</p><p>•&#160;Peter A. Jones, PhD, FAACR, research director and chief scientific officer, Van Andel Research Institute, Grand Rapids, Michigan; and member of the AACR Board of Directors (1990-1993);</p><p>•&#160;Michael B. Kastan, MD, PhD, executive director, Duke Cancer Institute; professor of pharmacology and cancer biology, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina; and member of the AACR Board of Directors (1999-2002);</p><p>•&#160;Kenneth W. Kinzler, PhD, FAACR, professor of oncology; co-director, The Ludwig Center, Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore; and member of the AACR Board of Directors (2008-2011);</p><p>•&#160;Hidde L. Ploegh, PhD, professor of biology and member, Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge;</p><p>•&#160;Gabriel A. Rabinovich, PhD, professor of immunotherapy, University of Buenos Aires, Argentina; and</p><p>•&#160;David M. Sabatini, MD, PhD, investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute; professor of biology and member, Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge.</p><p>For the entire list, please visit the <a href="http&#58;//;//" target="_blank">Academy website</a>.<br></p></div>
Stand Up To Cancer Supports “Innovation in Collaboration” in Cancer Research with $1 Million for Five Teams through Phillip A. Sharp Awards164135/2/2016 12:57:29 PM Releases/AllItems.aspx888False2016-05-02T13:00:00Z<div class="ExternalClassFA295D456C3448A49CA590643E77249A"><p>​May 2, 2016 – Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) has awarded a total of $1 million to five teams of cancer researchers to advance “innovation in collaboration” among SU2C-affiliated scientists. Each team, consisting of researchers from different SU2C-supported “Dream Teams” or research programs, will receive a grant of $200,000 to support new research projects stemming from previous advances in cancer research from the SU2C community. Four of the five teams are focused on immunotherapy and the fifth on DNA repair. </p><p>“From the beginning, Stand Up To Cancer has striven to break down silos, encourage collaboration, and bring together the best research that will benefit cancer patients,” said Phillip A. Sharp, PhD, Chair of SU2C’s Scientific Advisory Committee and a Nobel Prize winner for his research in genetics. “These awards will help bring us closer to the day we defeat cancer.” </p><p>The award program was established in 2014 by SU2C to honor Sharp’s keen interest in team research, with a scientific review and oversight process managed by SU2C’s Scientific Partner, the American Association for Cancer Research. The Phillip A. Sharp Innovation in Collaboration Awards are intended to reward distinctive collaborations that propose to accelerate current research and development models, bringing therapeutic benefits for cancer patients. Brief, initial proposals were reviewed by a committee of senior scientists led by SU2C Scientific Advisory Committee Co-Vice Chairs Arnold J. Levine, PhD, professor emeritus of systems biology at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, and William G. Nelson, MD, PhD, director of the Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center in Baltimore, during the SU2C Scientific Summit in Santa Monica, California, in January. </p><p>“The research teams who submitted proposals for consideration are from quite diverse backgrounds and are innovating across a broad portfolio of projects,” said Nelson. “The 19 submissions we received spanned all important issues in improving cancer research for patients — DNA sequencing and the effects of the microbiome on immunotherapies; targeted genome sequencing; and organoid research, to name a few. Moreover, the teams are unusually diverse&#58; physicists, computer scientists, computational mathematicians and engineers coming into the lab with oncologists, geneticists, and biologists to explore and test hypotheses emerging from the terabytes of new data we’re now producing.” </p><p>In announcing the awards, Dr. Levine invoked the memory of Laura Ziskin, the movie producer and one of the co-founders of SU2C and who lived with breast cancer for seven years before her death. </p><p>“This year’s Sharp Awards for Innovation in Collaboration are distinguished in several respects,” he said. “One, is that the awards represent novel collaborations between senior and junior researchers, which create synergistic mentoring opportunities. Second, the winning proposals arise directly from questions being explored by existing Teams, arising through the 2016 SU2C Scientific Summit. These five projects will be funded in a short timeframe uncharacteristic of most funding mechanisms, and questions will be under investigation quickly.”</p><p>“Third, is the issue of geography&#58; the winners come from research institutions across the US, yet their research will be collaborative. And finally, we see a trend among early-career scientists who started out as physicists and mathematicians but have moved into biology and are joining multi-disciplinary teams,” he said, “I think it’s fair to say that the full integration of computational design is where cancer research is going.” </p><p>Following the Summit, each selected team submitted a more detailed, yet still streamlined, two-page proposal and budget to SU2C’s Scientific Advisory Committee. </p><p>Sharing the $1 million in Sharp Award funding in equal allocations of $200,000 to support research over a one- to two-year period are teams of senior scientists and early career researchers (denoted with *)&#58;<br><strong>“Fingerprinting the systemic microbiome in plasma to predict immunotherapy outcomes in melanoma”</strong><br>Muhammed Murtaza, MBBS, PhD*, SU2C-Melanoma Research Alliance Melanoma Dream Team<br>and Antoni Ribas, MD, SU2C-Cancer Research Institute Cancer Immunology Dream Team<br><br><strong>“Defining the role of epigenetics in chimeric antigen receptor T cell therapy for CLL”</strong><br>Shelley Berger, PhD, Van Andel Research Institute – SU2C Epigenetics Dream Team reviewer<br>Carl June, MD, SU2C Joint Scientific Advisory Committee <br>and Junwei Shi, PhD*<br><br><strong>“Towards Predictive Models of Immunotherapy Response”</strong><br>Benjamin Greenbaum, PhD*, Pancreatic Cancer Convergence Team and Jedd Wolchok, MD, PhD, SU2C-American Cancer Society Lung Cancer Dream Team<br><br><strong>“Checkpoint inhibition in children with ultra-mutated cancer due to biallelic mismatch repair deficiency (bMMRD)”</strong><br>Crystal Mackall, MD, SU2C-St. Baldrick’s Pediatric Cancer Dream Team and Patrick Forde, MD*, SU2C-Cancer Research Institute Cancer Immunology Dream Team<br><br><strong>“Functional verification of DNA repair mutations in prostate and ovary tumors”</strong><br>Eliezer Van Allen, MD* SU2C-Prostate Cancer Foundation Prostate Cancer Dream Team and Maria Jasin, PhD, SU2C-Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Alliance-National Ovarian Cancer Coalition Dream Team<br></p></div>
Black Patients From Segregated Neighborhoods Were Less Likely to Receive Lung Cancer Surgery164084/29/2016 7:51:44 PM Releases/AllItems.aspx887False2016-05-02T04:05:00Z<div class="ExternalClassEE3BA89C8B8C43BD9ABCC5E50CD13917"><p>​PHILADELPHIA — Black residents of highly segregated neighborhoods were less likely to receive surgery for early-stage non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) than their peers in less-segregated neighborhoods, according to a study published in <a href="http&#58;//"><em>Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers &amp; Prevention</em></a>, a journal of the <a href="/Pages/Home.aspx">American Association for Cancer Research</a>.&#160;<img alt="Asal Mohamadi Johnson" src="/PublishingImages/Johnson_Asal_150x200.jpg" style="margin&#58;10px;vertical-align&#58;auto;float&#58;right;" /></p><p>“It has been established that black patients have higher cancer mortality rates and are less likely to receive appropriate treatment than whites,” said the study’s lead author, <a href="http&#58;//" target="_blank">Asal Mohamadi Johnson, PhD, MPH</a>, an assistant professor of integrative health science at <a href="http&#58;//" target="_blank">Stetson University </a>in DeLand, Florida. “Instead of solely looking at health disparities between white and black patients, our study focused on differences in survival among black patients resulting from different levels of neighborhood segregation.”</p><p>Johnson’s study focused on NSCLC, the most common type of lung cancer. If caught at an early stage, the disease can sometimes be cured by surgical resection. Previous research has documented disparities in the rate of receipt of NSCLC surgery and in survival.&#160;</p><p>“At least half of patients diagnosed at early stages who undergo surgical treatment survive more than five years, whereas, without surgery, most will die within a year,” Johnson said. </p><p>For this study, Johnson and colleagues conducted a retrospective cohort study of patients diagnosed with NSCLC between January 2000 and December 2009, using data from the Georgia Comprehensive Cancer Registry. Researchers measured the degree of segregation of the patients’ neighborhoods by isolation index, which measures the probability of living in proximity to individuals from the same racial or ethnic group. They used economic deprivation as a second variable, and because segregation and economic deprivation are often linked; researchers created a third variable combining the two. The researchers also considered educational attainment. </p><p>For black patients, the level of segregation of their neighborhoods was the strongest predictor of whether they would receive the surgery. The study showed that compared with patients living in the least-segregated areas, the patients in the most-segregated areas were 65 percent less likely to receive the surgery. The patients in the second most-segregated areas were 63 percent less likely to receive the surgery. </p><p>For white patients, educational levels in the neighborhood played the largest role in determining their chances of receiving the surgery. The white patients who lived in areas with the lowest levels of education were 48 percent less likely to receive the surgery compared with those living in areas with the most highly educated population. Segregation had no significant effect.</p><p>Black patients also had lower five-year survival compared with white patients. However, after controlling for receipt of surgery, the survival disparity between black and white patients disappeared, suggesting this disparity may be largely explained by differences in receipt of surgery. Black patients living in the neighborhoods with the highest levels of segregation and economic deprivation were 31 percent more likely to die than black patients living in the least segregated and economically deprived areas.</p><p>Johnson explained that segregation creates a cycle of economic impoverishment and widens health disparities by constraining access to education, employment opportunities, and medical services. She advocated urban planning and public policy efforts to encourage a shift to more racially and economically mixed neighborhoods.</p><p>“Health disparities are a result of a combination of social, cultural, behavioral, and political factors. Any genuine commitment to address them successfully should include experts on economic development and urban planning, as well as policymakers and the medical community,” she said. “Most importantly, the residents of these communities must be involved and a part of the process.”</p><p>Johnson said a limitation of the study is that researchers did not have data on individual socioeconomic status, comorbidity, and specific causes of death. Also, she said, segregation can be measured in numerous ways, and alternate measures may have resulted in different results. </p><p>This study was funded by a Stetson University faculty development grant. Johnson declares no conflicts of interest. <br></p></div>
Exposure to Particulate Air Pollutants Associated With Numerous Types of Cancer163834/28/2016 4:36:04 PM Releases/AllItems.aspx886False2016-04-29T04:05:00Z<div class="ExternalClassEFFF549B4255449788A367B57F51E377"><p>​PHILADELPHIA — Long-term exposure to ambient fine particulate matter, a mixture of environmental pollutants, was associated with increased risk of mortality for many types of cancer in an elderly Hong Kong population, according to a study published in <a href="http&#58;//"><em>Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers &amp; Prevention</em></a>, a journal of the <a href="/">American Association for Cancer Research</a>. <img alt="Thuan Quoc Thach" src="/Newsroom/PublishingImages/Thach_Thuan%20Quoc_150x200.jpg" style="margin&#58;10px;vertical-align&#58;auto;float&#58;right;" /></p><p>“Long-term exposure to particulate matter has been associated with mortality mainly from cardiopulmonary causes and lung cancer, but there have been few studies showing an association with mortality from other cancers,” said the study’s co-lead author, <a href="http&#58;//" target="_blank">Thuan Quoc Thach, PhD</a>, a scientific officer at the <a href="http&#58;//" target="_blank">School of Public Health </a>at the <a href="http&#58;//" target="_blank">University of Hong Kong</a>. “Co-lead author <a href="http&#58;//" target="_blank">Neil Thomas </a>and I suspected that these particulates could have an equivalent effect on cancers elsewhere in the body.” Thomas, MPhil, PhD, is a reader in epidemiology in the Department of Public Health, Epidemiology and Biostatistics in the Institute of Applied Health of the College of Medical and Dental Sciences at <a href="http&#58;//">The University of Birmingham</a>.<img alt="G. Neil Thomas" src="/Newsroom/PublishingImages/Thomas_Neil_150x200.jpg" style="margin&#58;10px;vertical-align&#58;auto;float&#58;right;" /></p><p>Particulate matter is the term for particles found in the air, including hydrocarbons and heavy metals produced by transportation and power generation, among other sources, Thach explained. This study focused on ambient fine particulate matter, or matter with an aerodynamic diameter of less than 2.5 micrometers (PM<sub>2.5</sub>). </p><p>For this study, Thach, Thomas, and colleagues enrolled 66,280 people who were age 65 or older when initially recruited between 1998 and 2001. The researchers did not have data on whether they had cancer before they were enrolled. Researchers followed the study subjects until 2011, ascertaining causes of death from Hong Kong registrations. Annual concentrations of PM<sub>2.5</sub> at their homes were estimated using data from satellite data and fixed-site monitors. </p><p>After adjusting for smoking status and excluding deaths that had occurred within three years of the baseline to control for competing diseases, the study showed that for every 10 microgram per cubic meter (µg/m3) of increased exposure to PM<sub>2.5</sub>, the risk of dying from any cancer rose by 22 percent. Increases of 10 µg/m3 of PM<sub>2.5 </sub>were associated with a 42 percent increased risk of mortality from cancer in the upper digestive tract and a 35 percent increased risk of mortality from accessory digestive organs, which include the liver, bile ducts, gall bladder, and pancreas.</p><p>For women, every 10 µg/m3 increase in exposure to PM<sub>2.5</sub> was associated with an 80 percent increased risk of mortality from breast cancer, and men experienced a 36 percent increased risk of dying of lung cancer for every 10 µg/m3 increased exposure to PM<sub>2.5</sub>. </p><p>Thach and Thomas indicated possible explanations for the association between PM<sub>2.5</sub> and cancer could include defects in DNA repair function, alterations in the body’s immune response, or inflammation that triggers angiogenesis, the growth of new blood vessels that allows tumors to spread. In the case of the digestive organs, heavy metal pollution could affect gut microbiota and influence the development of cancer, the authors added. </p><p>In 2015, the <a href="http&#58;//" target="_blank">International Agency for Research on Cancer </a>(IARC) published a series of monographs on the evaluation of various carcinogenic risks. In a <a href="http&#58;//" target="_blank">monograph on air pollution</a>, the organization pointed out the difficulty of assessing the effects of pollution on multiple types of cancers, given their different etiologies, risk factors, and variability in the composition of air pollutants in space and time. The IARC also identified certain key components of air pollution, including particulates. The large scale of Thach and Thomas’s study, as well as its documentation of cancer-specific mortality, enables the detailed investigation of the contribution of particulate matter to these cancers, the authors said.</p><p>Thomas added that further research would be required to determine whether other countries experience similar associations between PM<sub>2.5 </sub>and cancer deaths, but this study combined with existing research suggests that other urban populations may carry the same risks. </p><p>“The implications for other similar cities around the world are that PM<sub>2.5</sub> must be reduced as much and as fast as possible,” he said. “Air pollution remains a clear, modifiable public health concern.” </p><p>Thach said a limitation of the study is that it focused solely on PM<sub>2.5</sub>. He said emerging research is beginning to study the effects of exposure to multiple pollutants on human health. He also cautioned that pollution is just one risk factor for cancer, and others, such as diet and exercise, may be more significant and more modifiable risk factors. </p><p>This study was funded by the Wellcome Trust. Thach and Thomas declare no conflicts of interest. </p><p>&#160;</p></div>
AACR CEO Margaret Foti Recognized With Honorary Member Award 163764/28/2016 3:34:10 PM Releases/AllItems.aspx885False2016-04-28T14:30:00Z<div class="ExternalClass6CE8976137A446E6B5CE862D7E8B5352"><p>​PHILADELPHIA — Margaret Foti, PhD, MD (hc), chief executive officer (CEO) of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), was honored this morning during the opening ceremony of the <a href="http&#58;//" target="_blank">41st Annual Congress</a> of the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) in San Antonio, Texas, with the Honorary Member Award for her unwavering dedication to improving cancer care and her unstinting commitment to the prevention and cure of all cancers.</p><p>The <a href="https&#58;//" target="_blank">Honorary Member Award</a> is awarded by the ONS to thank and honor an individual who is not otherwise eligible for ONS membership for his or her contributions to oncology nursing, support of the ONS, and conduct consistent with the ONS mission and core values.</p><p>&quot;I am deeply honored to be recognized by the Oncology Nursing Society with the Honorary Member Award,&quot; said Foti. &quot;Oncology nurses are playing a vital role in quality cancer care, and the compassion and deep commitment with which they care for patients and support caregivers are extraordinary in their impact. It has been exciting to work since 2002 with these dedicated health care professionals from ONS in the development of a series of sessions that underscore the importance of the science behind what is done in the clinic. I look forward to what we will do together in the future to address our shared mission. If we are to accelerate the pace of progress against cancer, we must collaborate as individual professionals and organizations, and ONS continues to be a synergistic partner in the cancer field.&quot;</p><p>During Foti's tenure as CEO of the AACR, her leadership has increased the organization's membership, which has grown from about 3,000 to more than 35,000 laboratory, translational, and clinical researchers; population scientists; other health care professionals; and cancer advocates residing in 104 countries and territories around the world. In addition, the organization's scientific meetings, peer-reviewed journals, and science policy work have furthered progress against all cancers through research, education, communication, and collaboration.</p><p>Under Foti's guidance, the AACR has become an outspoken proponent of policies that support all aspects of cancer research and prevention. The organization engages with policymakers through its Science Policy and Government Affairs Committee in Washington, D.C., which opened in 2007 to amplify the voice of cancer researchers, patients, survivors, and caregivers on Capitol Hill. The AACR's commitment to advocacy is evident through the leading role it plays in organizing the annual Rally for Medical Research Hill Day. The Rally brings together several hundred organizations, including the ONS, to raise awareness among the nation's policymakers about the need to make funding for the National Institutes of Health a national priority. More recently, the AACR has been providing thought leadership to Vice President Joe Biden as he begins to lead a new national effort against cancer, and the organization will continue to collaborate to provide valuable insights and creative thinking about how to reduce cancer incidence and mortality.</p><p>Foti's contributions have been widely recognized by numerous awards from organizations around the world. Her extensive list of formal recognitions includes honorary degrees in medicine and surgery from the University of Rome La Sapienza and the University of Catania in Sicily, and an honorary degree in medicine from the University CEU of San Pablo in Madrid. Most recently, she was honored by the Society of Surgical Oncology with the 2016 James Ewing Layperson's Award and by Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center as a 2015 honoree of &quot;the one hundred.&quot; She was also the recipient of the Children's Champion Award from Children's Hospital of Philadelphia in 2015, the 2014 Ellen V. Sigal Advocacy Leadership Award from Friends of Cancer Research, the 2014 Morton M. Kligerman Visiting Professorship Award from the University of Pennsylvania, the 2013 Stanley P. Reimann Honor Award from Fox Chase Cancer Center, and the 2013 Distinguished Partner in Hope Award from the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania.</p></div>
Vice President Biden and Dr. Jill Biden Address the Cancer Research Community at the AACR Annual Meeting 2016161934/28/2016 7:57:20 PM Releases/AllItems.aspx884False2016-04-21T02:00:00Z<div class="ExternalClassA20379D726D74EADA44BA30B55A24807"><div>NEW ORLEANS —Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden today addressed over 4,000 attendees during the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting 2016 to thank members of the cancer research community for devoting their lives to cancer research, and to encourage them to share their ideas to more rapidly accelerate progress against cancer.&#160; <img alt="BidenAM.jpg" src="/Newsroom/PublishingImages/Lists/News%20Releases/AllItems/BidenAM.jpg" style="margin&#58;5px 10px;float&#58;right;" /></div><div>&#160;</div><div>Vice President Biden conveyed, &quot;There is more brain power in this room than exists in many countries. And we need you.&quot; He added, &quot;You're the very best we have.&quot; </div><div>&#160;</div><div>Biden talked about the importance of removing political barriers, fostering collaborations and data-sharing, and re-aligning incentives in cancer research to better serve patients. </div><div>&#160;</div><div><a href="http&#58;//;" target="_blank">View the webcast</a> of Dr. Jill Biden's and Vice President Biden's full remarks. <br><br>&quot;On behalf of the American Association for Cancer Research, I would like to thank Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden for delivering such inspirational remarks to our attendees at the AACR Annual Meeting 2016 this afternoon,&quot; said Margaret Foti, PhD, MD (hc), chief executive officer of the AACR. &quot;We are at a watershed moment in cancer research, and their remarks serve to motivate us to work even harder to hasten the pace of progress against cancer. We are in a new era of transformational breakthroughs in cancer research, and we look forward to continuing to work with Vice President Biden and his staff as well as to collaborating with all stakeholders to help chart a course to end cancer.” </div><div>&#160;</div><div>Biden selected the AACR Annual Meeting as a platform for his remarks, which drew a record number of 19,500 cancer community stakeholders from research, health care, academia, industry, government, and advocacy, all dedicated to propelling cancer research forward.</div><div>&#160;</div><div>AACR Past President José Baselga, MD, PhD, physician-in-chief and chief medical officer, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, thanked President Barack Obama and Vice President Biden for launching the National Cancer Moonshot Initiative on behalf of the AACR's 36,000 members comprised of laboratory researchers, physicians and scientists, other medical professionals, and patient advocates nationally and internationally.</div><div>&#160;</div><div>Sophia Lunt, PhD, assistant professor, Michigan State University, introduced Dr. Jill Biden. Lunt is a recipient of the AACR NextGen Grant for Transformative Cancer Research, a funding initiative to stimulate highly innovative research conducted by young investigators.</div><div>&#160;</div><div>Dr. Jill Biden reinforced their personal commitment by saying, &quot;Joe and I know, this is personal for us…but it's also bigger than us. It affects millions of people around the world every day.&quot;</div><div>&#160;</div><div>Hosting Biden at the AACR Annual Meeting 2016 builds upon the AACR's thought leadership in this national effort to cure cancer. Prior to the announcement of the vice president's cancer moonshot initiative, 15 distinguished AACR leaders and members representing 10 medical institutions and nine states met with Biden's staff to discuss areas of major promise in cancer research including precision medicine, immunotherapy, and potential collaboration around big data, citing AACR's Project GENIE as an example. Shortly thereafter, Biden invited the AACR's president and two past presidents to offer their perspectives and guidance at a special session, &quot;Cancer Moonshot&#58; A Call to Action,&quot; at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Since then, Biden has continued to meet with AACR members as he tours cancer centers throughout the U.S.​</div><div>&#160;</div></div>
​Stand Up To Cancer Supports Innovative Research Grants for 10 Early-career Scientists161774/20/2016 3:34:59 PM Releases/AllItems.aspx883False2016-04-20T16:00:00Z2016 class brings total of IRGs awarded to 36<div class="ExternalClass80C3FD5089374989915B502508EB302E"><p>NEW ORLEANS — Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) announced Monday that it is awarding 10 grants of $750,000 each to early-career scientists to support innovative, high-risk, high-reward projects in cancer research. The announcement was made at the 2016 Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research, SU2C’s Scientific Partner.</p><p>“We have selected 10 scientists and projects that we believe use new insights and fresh approaches and have high potential to make a difference for people with cancer,” said William G. Kaelin Jr., MD, professor of medicine at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston and chairman of the SU2C Innovative Research Grant (IRG) review committee. “Just as importantly, SU2C is investing in the future of cancer research by supporting an outstanding group of early-career investigators whom we believe are rising stars in science.”</p><p>The announcement marks the third time SU2C has selected a class of Innovative Research Grant recipients. Previous classes were announced in 2009 and 2011. With the new class of IRGs, the total number of recipients now stands at 36.</p><p>Serving as Stand Up To Cancer’s celebrity ambassador at the event is Sonequa Martin-Green, 31, an actress and producer who is a main cast member in the hit television show “The Walking Dead,” in which she plays a survivor of the zombie apocalypse.&#160;In real life, she has lost several members of her extended family to cancer, and has other relatives, including her mother, who are cancer survivors.</p><p>“I have seen the terrible toll that cancer can take in a single family, so I respect and fully support these outstanding researchers in their battle against cancer,” Martin-Green said. “Hopefully the innovative ideas they are pursuing will one day spare other families the losses that my family, and so many other families have endured.”</p><p>The 10 grant recipients work at eight different institutions across the country where they have their own, independent laboratories. These innovative projects are characterized as “high-risk” because they either challenge existing paradigms, utilize novel concepts or approaches, and because in order to receive a grant, the applicants were not required—as they would be by most conventional funding mechanisms—to have already conducted a portion of the research resulting in an established base of evidence. If successful, the projects have the potential for “high-reward” in terms of saving lives.</p><p>“We’re trying to find the superstars of tomorrow and set them on their course by giving them funding so they don’t have to worry about that at this earlier stage of their career,” said Sara A. Courtneidge, PhD, associate director for translational sciences of the Knight Cancer Institute at Oregon Health &amp; Science University and vice-chairperson of the review committee.</p><p>“These grants will allow them to get off to a really good start in their independent research programs, take this research to the next level and then apply for more traditional funding mechanisms to take it forward,” she said.&#160; “I see it as a really good opportunity for young people not to have to worry so much about where their next grant is coming from until they've got themselves established.”</p><p>The scope of the projects selected range from tumor metabolism to imaging of drug response in single cells to mathematical models of combination drug therapy to the use of certain enzymes as new anticancer targets, among other topics.</p><p>With their institutions and the titles of their proposals, the IRG recipients are&#58;<br>•&#160;John G. Albeck, PhD, University of California, Davis&#58; Targeting cellular plasticity in individual basal-type breast cancer cells;<br>•&#160;Kara A. Bernstein, PhD, University of Pittsburgh&#58; Uncovering how RAD51 paralog mutations contribute to cancer predisposition;<br>•&#160;Juan R. Cubillos-Ruiz, PhD, Weill Cornell Medicine&#58;&#160; Phospholipid messengers as drivers of dendritic cell dysfunction in cancer;<br>•&#160;Greg Michael Delgoffe, PhD, University of Pittsburgh&#58;&#160; Metabolic reprogramming using oncolytic viruses to improve immunotherapy;<br>•&#160;Martin Kampmann, PhD, University of California, San Francisco&#58; &quot;Weak links” in cancer proteostasis networks as new therapeutic targets;<br>•&#160;Dan A. Landau, MD, PhD, Weill Cornell Medicine&#58; Algorithmically-driven quantitative combination cancer therapy engineering;<br>•&#160;Li Ma, PhD, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center&#58; Deubiquitinating enzymes as novel anticancer targets;<br>•&#160;Melissa Skala, PhD, Vanderbilt University (moving to Morgridge Institute for Research, University of Wisconsin-Madison)&#58; Imaging cell-level heterogeneity in solid tumors for personalized treatment;<br>•&#160;Matthew G. Vander Heiden, MD, PhD, Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology&#58;&#160; Defining the metabolic dependencies of tumors; and<br>•&#160;Hao Zhu, MD, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center&#58; Defining the mechanistic connections between injury, regeneration, and cancer.</p><p>More than 250 applications were received, from which 16 finalists were chosen to make presentations in person to a committee of senior scientists.</p><p>“They were all incredibly good,” said William G. Nelson, MD, PhD, vice-chair of the review committee and director of the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center in Baltimore. “Very hard-working, ambitious, and imaginative, each and every one of them. Their ideas were high-risk and high-reward, but the young scientists themselves were sure bets. They are going to go places.”</p><p>The term of the grants begins July 1 and runs for three years. The scientists will report their progress twice a year to SU2C and the AACR, which organized the application and review process and will administer the grants.</p><p>Since 2008, SU2C has successfully launched 19 Dream Teams, two Translational Research Teams, and 36 Innovative Research Grants with funds committed by philanthropic, organizational, corporate and individual donors, as well as non-profit collaborators.</p><p>&#160;</p></div>
​Certain Oral Bacteria Associated With Increased Pancreatic Cancer Risk​160944/15/2016 7:54:15 PM Releases/AllItems.aspx876False2016-04-19T20:00:00Z<div class="ExternalClass3E820D27A2FA4E65826F7E3B4C51AED8"><p>NEW ORLEANS — The presence of two species of bacteria linked to periodontal disease in the mouths of healthy individuals was associated with an increased risk of subsequently developing <a href="https&#58;//">pancreatic cancer</a>, according to research presented here at the <a href="https&#58;//">AACR Annual Meeting 2016</a>, April 16-20.<img alt="Jiyoung Ahn" src="/PublishingImages/Ahn_Jiyoung_150x200.jpg" style="margin&#58;10px;vertical-align&#58;auto;float&#58;right;" /></p><p>“Previous studies have shown that indicators of poor oral health, including a history of periodontal disease and lots of missing teeth, are associated with an increased risk of pancreatic cancer,” said <a href="http&#58;//" target="_blank">Jiyoung Ahn, PhD</a>, associate professor of population health and associate director of population sciences at the <a href="http&#58;//" target="_blank">Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Cancer Center at NYU Langone Medical Center </a>in New York. “To test the idea that this association is driven by species of oral bacteria linked to periodontal disease, we first needed to determine whether these bacteria are even associated with pancreatic cancer risk.</p><p>“We found that Porphyromonas gingivalis and Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans, two species of bacteria linked to periodontal disease, were associated with a more than 50 percent increased risk of pancreatic cancer,” Ahn continued. “These data do not show a causal relationship, but they are the first steps in understanding a potential new risk factor for pancreatic cancer, which is vital if we are to develop new approaches for pancreatic cancer prevention and early detection in the future.”</p><p>Ahn, Xiaozhou Fan, a graduate student working in Ahn’s laboratory, and colleagues conducted a nested case-control study using samples and data from the <a href="http&#58;//" target="_blank">Cancer Prevention Study II </a>and the <a href="http&#58;//" target="_blank">Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial </a>cohorts. Both these cohorts enrolled healthy people and followed them over a long period for a variety of outcomes, including development of cancer.</p><p>The researchers analyzed oral wash samples collected at study enrollment from 361 people who later went on to develop pancreatic cancer and from 371 matched controls. They used genomic technologies to generate a profile of the bacterial species present in each sample and performed logistic regression analysis to study the association between individual species of bacteria and risk of pancreatic cancer, controlling for other risk factors, including age, smoking status, and body mass index.</p><p>The presence of P. gingivalis in oral wash samples was associated with a 59 percent increased risk for pancreatic cancer and the presence of A. actinomycetemcomitans was associated with a 119 percent increased risk. Risks remained even after excluding samples from people who developed pancreatic cancer within two years of collection of their oral wash samples, which increased the research team’s confidence in the associations that were identified, according to Ahn.</p><p>“About 1.5 percent of U.S. men and women will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer at some point in their life,” explained Ahn. “However, only 5 percent survive five years or more after their diagnosis. New approaches to pancreatic cancer prevention and early detection are urgently needed. Although our new findings cannot be directly translated into such approaches, if they are confirmed in additional studies, they could point to new ways to screen for the disease, and if the associations are found to be causal, they could point to potential prevention approaches.”</p><p>According to Ahn, a major limitation of the study was that the population studied was not very diverse—it was predominantly non-Hispanic white and healthy—so the results might not be generalizable to the whole population.</p><p>This study was funded by the National Cancer Institute. Ahn and Fan declare no conflicts of interest.</p><p><br>&#160;</p></div>
Noninvasive Test Detected Colorectal Cancer in Previously Unscreened Patients160904/15/2016 7:17:49 PM Releases/AllItems.aspx875False2016-04-19T17:00:00ZHigh compliance reveals significant colon cancer and advanced adenoma detection<div class="ExternalClass7555B0F8CBD74242BD7012EF6D4B7084"><p>NEW ORLEANS — A noninvasive colorectal cancer screening test detected the disease in patients who had previously avoided more invasive screening measures, according to research presented here at the <a href="/Meetings/Pages/MeetingDetail.aspx?EventItemID=63&amp;DetailItemID=365">AACR Annual Meeting 2016</a>, April 16-20. The study of nearly 400 patients revealed four patients with cancers and 21 with advanced adenoma, or polyps.<img alt="Mark Prince" src="/PublishingImages/Prince_Mark_150x200.jpg" style="margin&#58;10px;vertical-align&#58;auto;float&#58;right;" /></p><p>“Despite the availability of various colon cancer screening options, more than 40 percent of Americans are not getting screened,” said <a href="http&#58;//" target="_blank">Mark Prince, MD, MBA</a>, a director of gastroenterology with <a href="http&#58;//" target="_blank">USMD Physician Services</a>, a health system based in Dallas, Texas. “This study highlights the opportunity to expand the screening population by offering new, patient-friendly methods.”</p><p>In August 2014, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration <a href="http&#58;//">approved </a>Cologuard, a multi-target stool DNA test (mt-sDNA) that detects the presence of red blood cells and DNA mutations that can be associated with colon cancer. In October 2014, Cologuard was approved for Medicare coverage.&#160; </p><p>A 10,000-patient, prospectively conducted clinical trial for Cologuard, which was <a href="http&#58;//">published in The New England Journal of Medicine</a>, showed that Cologuard is 92 percent sensitive for detecting colorectal cancer and 42 percent sensitive for precancer, with a specificity of 87 percent. </p><p>In this study, Prince and colleagues performed a retrospective medical records review of Medicare-eligible patients treated by physicians in the USMD Physician Services. The study focused on patients at average risk for colorectal cancer—those without symptoms, a personal or family history of colorectal cancer, or polyps— who were not previously compliant with recommended guidelines for screening. </p><p>“We were interested to see whether the ‘real-life’ experience with Cologuard in clinical practice would be similar to the results seen in the clinical trial,” Prince said. The patients’ clinicians offered Cologuard screening to patients who had not had a colonoscopy screening in 10 or more years, or a fecal occult blood test in a year or more. During the 12-month study period, from October 2014 to September 2015, USMD providers ordered 393 mt-sDNA studies, and 347 patients completed the test, achieving 88.3 percent compliance. Fifty-one patients, representing 14.7 percent of the total, tested positive by Cologuard and were referred for diagnostic colonoscopies.</p><p>According to Prince, 46 patients, or 90.2 percent of those referred, received the follow-up colonoscopies. Three patients refused the procedure and two patients did not respond to physicians’ attempts to follow up.&#160;</p><p>Among the 46 patients who had follow-up colonoscopies, four were diagnosed with colon cancer. Twenty-one were diagnosed with advanced adenoma, or polyps; nine had non-advanced adenoma; and 12 tested negative.</p><p>Prince said the discovery of four cases of colon cancer and numerous polyps, which have the potential to develop into cancer, supported the findings of the clinical trial. He noted that none of the patients had reported any symptoms and all had previously refused colonoscopies.</p><p>“Colon cancer screening saves lives,” Prince said. “Colonoscopy is the best form of colon cancer screening, but for patients who will not have a colonoscopy, a noninvasive screening test like Cologuard is needed.”</p><p>Colorectal cancer is the second deadliest form of cancer in the United States. This year, nearly 135,000 Americans will be diagnosed with the disease and 50,000 Americans will die of it.</p><p>Prince said a limitation of the study is that it involved only patients who were eligible for Medicare. “It will be interesting to analyze the use in commercially insured patients when insurance coverage becomes more widespread,” he said. Prince also cautioned that any positive results from noninvasive screening tests should be followed up by a colonoscopy.</p><p>Prince is a speaker for Exact Sciences Corp., the maker of Cologuard.</p><p>&#160;</p></div>
​​​Pembrolizumab Yielded Durable Responses in Patients With Advanced Merkel Cell Carcinoma160494/22/2016 6:23:48 PM Releases/AllItems.aspx864False2016-04-19T13:30:00Z<div class="ExternalClass653B67E0FED349C7BED1202EF7273FF3"><p>NEW ORLEANS — Many patients with advanced Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC), an aggressive type of skin cancer, who received the immunotherapeutic pembrolizumab as first-line therapy in a <a target="_blank" href="https&#58;//;rank=1">phase II clinical trial </a>had durable responses, and responses were seen in those whose cancers were driven by a virus as well as those whose cancers were induced by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light, according to research presented here at the <a href="/Meetings/Pages/MeetingDetail.aspx?EventItemID=63&amp;DetailItemID=365">AACR Annual Meeting 2016</a>, April 16-20. <img src="/PublishingImages/Nghiem_Paul_150x200.jpg" alt="Paul Nghiem" style="margin&#58;10px;float&#58;right;" /></p><p>This study is being simultaneously published in <a target="_blank" href="http&#58;//"><em>The New England Journal of Medicine</em></a>.</p><p>“In this clinical trial, patients with metastatic Merkel cell carcinoma who received pembrolizumab had an objective response rate of 56 percent, which is similar to chemotherapy outcomes, but the duration of response to pembrolizumab appears to be significantly longer than that for chemotherapy,” said <a href="http&#58;//">Paul Ngheim, MD, PhD</a>, affiliate investigator of the Clinical Research Division at <a href="http&#58;//">Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center </a>in Seattle and professor of medicine, Division of Dermatology, at the <a href="http&#58;//">University of Washington School of Medicine</a>. </p><p>“While the study is still ongoing, the vast majority of patients [86 percent] who responded to pembrolizumab are still experiencing excellent disease control more than six months after starting therapy.” </p><p>MCC is a rare, aggressive type of skin cancer, and Merkel polyomavirus (MCPyV) is the driving factor in about 80 percent of MCC cases, Nghiem explained. About 2,000 new cases of MCC are diagnosed in the United States per year. MCC is 35-fold less common than melanoma, but on average, it is about three times more likely to kill a patient than melanoma. Response to chemotherapy is typically quite brief and half of patients develop progressive disease within three months of initiating treatment, he added.</p><p>Nghiem and colleagues enrolled 26 patients with advanced/metastatic MCC who had received no prior systemic therapy in this single-arm, open-label trial. Of them, 17 had MCPyV-positive disease. All patients received 2 mg/kg body weight of pembrolizumab every three weeks and responses were assessed every nine to 12 weeks. At the time of data analysis, patients had received four to 49 weeks of therapy.</p><p>The overall response rate was 63 percent in patients with virus-positive MCC and 44 percent in those with virus-negative (UV-induced) MCC. Four patients, three with virus-positive disease, had complete responses (CR), and 10 patients, seven with virus-positive disease, had partial responses (PR).</p><p>Adverse events in this trial were similar to other anti-PD-1 trials and were largely managed with steroid treatment and stopping the study drug, Nghiem added. The condition of two patients who developed severe drug-related toxicities improved with corticosteroid treatment and discontinuation of pembrolizumab. “Importantly, both these patients have ongoing antitumor responses many months after discontinuation of pembrolizumab,” he noted.</p><p>“We believe that the immune system is likely ‘seeing’ different targets in the virus-positive and virus-negative patients,” Nghiem said. He explained that the virus-positive tumors produce the viral proteins needed for the tumors to grow. These viral proteins may be readily seen by the immune system. In contrast, virus-negative MCC has extremely high numbers of mutations caused by sunlight. These mutations can change the normal cellular proteins so they no longer appear as “self” and the immune system can then see and attack these tumors.</p><p>Pembrolizumab acts by removing the “brakes” present on tumor-specific immune cells called T cells, thereby allowing the T cells to kill the cancer cells.</p><p>“Currently there are no FDA-approved drugs for the treatment of MCC. We are expanding this trial to recruit additional patients and we hope that these data will contribute to meaningful new therapeutic options becoming available for these patients,” Nghiem said.</p><p>“It was initially challenging to partner with pharmaceutical companies because of the rarity of MCC. We are very thankful that the National Cancer Institute (NCI)’s Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program (CTEP), the Cancer Immunotherapy Trials Network (CITN), Merck, and multiple clinical sites came together to carry out this challenging study, which we believe is providing significant hope for MCC patients,” he added.</p><p>Nghiem is a consultant for EMD Serono, Inc., and receives funding from Bristol-Myers Squibb to perform biomarker studies in MCC clinical trials.</p><p>&#160; <br></p></div>