AROUND THE POA: March 2021

The Caris POA Adds 3 New Members in Q1 of 2021

In the first quarter of 2021, the Precision Oncology Alliance welcomed 3 new member institutions bringing our growing network total to 49 members. Since its inception in 2015, the POA has built the leading cancer research enterprise in the world, focused on collecting the latest scientific developments in genomics in order to further advance the integration of molecular profiling into all aspects of cancer care. The POA has a critical role in the future cancer research and precision medicine and it is exciting what we have and will be able to accomplish together.



POA’s 2nd Global Meeting Draws Clinicians from 16 Countries

The POA held its second virtual Global Molecular Oncology Summit Meeting on March 11 with more than 30 clinicians across 11 countries in attendance. The Caris team, led by POA Chairman Chadi Nabhan, shared the latest innovative capabilities in precision medicine developed by Caris’ R&D, along with plans to expand molecular testing technologies and AI with novel blood-based liquid profiling.

With a growing international presence of leading oncology experts, the POA is excited to further its abilities in providing new developments in cancer research and promote the discovery of more precise treatments for patients.


Pathology Working Group Holds First Meeting

The Pathology Working Group met for its first meeting virtually on March 9, 2021 with 34 members in attendance. POA Chaairman Chadi Nabhan led the inaugural meeting and introduced Dr. Sonika Dahiya, Associate Professor of Pathology and Immunology at Siteman Cancer Center, who serves as the working group’s Chair.

Dr. Matthew Oberley, Caris’ Executive Medical Director and Mark Daras, Vice President of Precision Medicine Initiatives at Caris, presented the company’s robust genomic and proteomic profiling capabilities, the operational efficiencies and quality gained by implementing digital pathology as well as the synergistic services and support offered to institutions’ precision medicine programs.


Dr. Valerie Brown to Lead POA Pediatrics Working Group

The POA is proud to announce the appointment of Dr. Valerie Brown, Professor in the Department of Pediatrics Division of Hematology and Oncology from Penn State University to the role of the Pediatrics/AYA Disease Group Chair. This group will focus on pediatric precision oncology projects leveraging the growing database that Caris is accumulating, which will allow the POA to develop research projects that have direct clinical applications.

More on Dr. Brown can be found here.


Atrium Health

Cancer Center Continuing HPV Vaccine Research with New Funding

Researchers at the UArizona Cancer Center are seeking to reduce the number of doses required for children receiving an HPV vaccine, which helps prevent several cancers caused with the common virus. Read more.

Atrium Health

Barrow Patient Finds Purpose in Brain Cancer Journey

When Hillary Burns and her husband, Dan, reflect on her brain cancer diagnosis, they don’t often wonder: Why us? Read more.

Dana-Farber to offer first CAR T-cell therapy for indolent follicular lymphoma following FDA approval

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of the first CAR T-cell therapy for indolent follicular lymphoma, a slow growing, non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), represents a key advance for patients with relapsed or refractory forms of the disease. Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center (DF/BWCC) will be a certified treatment center for the therapy. Read more.

Experts Use Innovative Robotic Technology to More Effectively Treat Head, Neck and Urologic Cancers at Emory University Hospital Midtown

Certain head and neck cancers, along with prostate and other urologic cancers, can now be treated in a less invasive way using new technology during robotic-assisted surgery at Emory University Hospital Midtown. With the help of a new single-port (SP) robot, only one small incision is needed to treat these patients, thanks to improved instrumentation, camera angles and a new design. Read more.

Fox Chase Cancer Center Launches Cancer Epigenetics Institute

Fox Chase Cancer Center has launched a new Cancer Epigenetics Institute (CEI) that will create a locally based national hub for epigenetics study and collaboration focused on mechanisms promoting cancer and therapeutic resistance. Read more.

Mechanism for How Pancreative Cancer Evades Immunotherapy Elucidated

Pancreatic cancer, one of the most lethal of all cancers, is capable of evading attacks by immune cells by changing its microenvironment so that the immune cells suppress, rather than support, an attack on the tumor, according to a study led by Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center researchers.
Read more

Going to the molecular Level to Think Big About Cancer

In the next few years, the biggest advancements in cancer care may occur at the smallest level, the level of individual molecules. By imaging individual molecules on cancer cells, malignancies can be detected when they are smaller and more easily treated. Targeting individual molecules has also allowed groundbreaking new therapies with great precision, increasing the efficacy of treatment and minimizing side effects. Read more.

Gene Mutations Linked to Worse Outcomes From Leukemia in Hispanic and Latino Children

A combination of genetic mutations may explain the higher incidence of and poorer outcomes from pediatric leukemia in Hispanic and Latino children, according to Penn State College of Medicine researchers. They said a novel therapeutic drug combination – as well as testing for these mutations – may help address the disparity. Read more.

Rutgers University Cancer Prevention Researcher and Leader Named President-Elect of American Society of Preventative Oncology

 Anita Kinney, PhD, director of the Center for Cancer Health Equity at Rutgers School of Public Health and Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, has been elected as the  2021 president-elect of the American Society of Preventive Oncology (ASPO), a multi-disciplinary society that is committed to serving as an advocate for cancer prevention and control research. In this role, she will serve a two-year term prior to serving as president of the society. Read more.

Daiichi Sankyo Initiates Clinical Development of Sixth DXd ADC DS-6000 with Sarah Cannon Research Institute

Daiichi Sankyo Company, Limited (hereafter, Daiichi Sankyo) and Sarah Cannon Research Institute (Sarah Cannon) announced today that the first patient has been dosed in the first-in-human phase 1 study evaluating DS-6000, a CDH6 directed antibody drug conjugate (ADC), in patients with advanced renal cell carcinoma or ovarian cancer with disease progression following standard treatment. Read more.

Genetic Tool Improves Estimation of Prostate Cancer Risk in Diverse Ethnic/Racial Groups

Building upon previous research, an international team led by scientists at University of California San Diego School of Medicine, has validated a more inclusive and comprehensive genetic tool for predicting age of onset of aggressive prostate cancer, a disease that killed more than 33,000 American men in 2020. Read more.

The Impacts of Aging on Cancer

For more than a year, a working group at the University of Colorado Cancer Center has been studying the many ways the aging process impacts cancer — including incidence, progression, and prognosis of the disease, therapeutic options and outcomes, and the psychosocial aspects of living with cancer. Read more.

Project ECHO Seeks to Improve Breast Cancer Disparities

A $100,000 grant from Susan G. Komen Kansas + Western Missouri will support The University of Kansas Cancer Center’s efforts to improve breast cancer disparities in the region. Read more.

Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center

Focusing on You: World-Renowned Leukemia Specialist Now Treating Patients at Sylvester

Dr. Mikkael Sekeres, M.D., the new Chief of Hematology and leukemia specialist at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, part of the University of Miami Health System, discusses how patients with blood and bone marrow cancers are taking extra precautions during the COVID-19 pandemic, and how advancements in therapies are helping leukemia patients live longer healthier lives. Read more.

Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center

University of Minnesota Researcher Published in Molecular Cancer Research

Jong Hyuk Kim, DVM, PhD, Assistant Professor of Oncology and Comparative Medicine in Veterinary Clinical Sciences and Masonic Cancer Center member, published new research around the causes of canine hemangiosarcoma and human angiosarcoma, which are malignant vascular tumors. Read more.

Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center

Five Years Later: Penn-developed CAR T Therapy Shows Long-lasting Remissions in Non-Hodgkin Lymphomas

A significant number of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) patients in a Penn Medicine-initiated clinical trial continue to be in remission five years after receiving the chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapy Kymriah™, researchers in Penn’s Abramson Cancer Center reported today in the New England Journal of Medicine. The findings represent the longest follow-up, published data to date for CAR T cell therapies approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of relapsed or refractory large B-cell lymphomas. Read more.

Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center

Cancer Tricks Immune Cells, Immunotherapy Can Take Advantage

A paper published in Nature shows how chemicals in the areas surrounding tumors—known as the tumor microenvironment—subvert the immune system and enable cancer to evade attack. These findings suggest that an existing drug could boost cancer immunotherapy. The study was conducted by a team of scientists at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, led by Greg Delgoffe, Ph.D., Pitt associate professor of immunology. Read more.

Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center

Heslin Named Director of USA Health Mitchell Cancer Institute

Martin J. Heslin, MD, MSHA, has been named director of the USA Health Mitchell Cancer Institute. Heslin is a renowned surgical oncologist and former associate director of the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He serves as executive vice chair of the Department of Surgery and is the chief of the medical staff at UAB Hospital. Heslin also is the James P. Hayes Jr. Endowed Professor in Gastrointestinal Oncology. Read more.

Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center

Mohamed Abou-el-Enein named Executive Director of USC/CHLA Cell Therapy Program

Mohamed Abou-el-Enein, MD, PhD, MSPH, has joined the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, the Keck School of Medicine, and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles as the inaugural Executive Director of the Joint USC/CHLA Cell Therapy Program. Abou-el-Enein will also serve as Medical Director of the new cGMP facility for cell and gene therapy that is under construction in the Norris Research Tower on the Health Sciences Campus, scheduled for completion in 2022. Read more.

Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center

Mays Cancer Center Conducting Study to Learn How COVID-19 Vaccine Affects Patients with Cancer

Individuals with cancer who get COVID-19 are more likely to have severe illness and higher death rates compared to the general public. The Mays Cancer Center, home to UT Health San Antonio MD Anderson, has prioritized offering the COVID-19 vaccine to its patients and is conducting an observational study to better understand how the immune system responds to the novel coronavirus vaccine in patients with cancer. Read more.

Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center

STINGing Tumors with Nanoparticles

A new nanoparticle-based drug can boost the body’s innate immune system and make it more effective at fighting off tumors, researchers at UT Southwestern have shown. Their study, published in Nature Biomedical Engineering, is the first to successfully target the immune molecule STING with nanoparticles about one millionth the size of a soccer ball that can switch on/off immune activity in response to their physiological environment. Read more.

Utah Researchers Illuminate Potential Precursors of Blood Cancers

Utah researchers report significant new insights into the development of blood cancers. In work published today in Blood Cancer Discovery, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, scientists describe an analysis of published data from more than 7,000 patients diagnosed with leukemia and other blood disorders. Their findings provide new clues about mutations that may initiate cancer development and those that may help cancer to progress. Read more.

Toledo Clinic Cancer Center Set to Open Next Year

Karmanos Cancer Center and the Toledo Clinic announce a partnership to create a new cancer center in Maumee, Ohio. “This partnership represents a bold and ambitious collaboration for cancer treatment and research in Lucas County and northwest Ohio,” said Dr. Justin Klamerus, president of the Karmanos Cancer Hospital & Network. “Our colleagues at The Toledo Clinic share a common vision with the entire team at Karmanos: use the very latest in treatment modalities combined with access to ‘bench-to-bedside’ clinical trials and precision medicine to achieve the goal of eradication of cancer.” Read more.

USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center

Immune Cells in Cerebrospinal Fluid: Predictors of Response to Immunotherapy Against Brain Metastasis

Results from a study led by Joan Seoane, Director of Preclinical and Translational Research co-program at VHIO and ICREA Professor, show that immune cells accessing cerebrospinal fluid faithfully recapitulate the characteristics of cells identified in brain metastasis, and could therefore constitute novel biomarkers of response to immune-based therapies. Read more.