Around the POA

The Caris POA Closes 2021 with 5 New Members

It’s been a busy close to the year for the Caris POA as we’ve welcomed five new members to the alliance: Ohio State University, NCI/NIH, Johns Hopkins University, Weill Cornell Medicine, and Tampa General Hospital, bringing our total to 58 members.

When formed in 2015, our goal for the POA was to become the leading cancer research enterprise. To do so, we knew we had to partner with institutions who put patients at the center of their practice, are leaders in oncology, and are focused on improving patient outcomes through the development of precision medicine programs and practices. Only through our collaborative efforts can we truly revolutionize cancer care. With each institution who joins our alliance, we get one step closer to that goal of being the preeminent research network worldwide.

AdventHealth Recognized for Navigating Supply Chain Challenges Amid Pandemic

AdventHealth’s supply chain team has been recognized in the Gartner Healthcare Supply Chain Top 25 for 2021, ranking 10th on the renowned list. This year’s ranking identifies, celebrates and profiles health systems that are effectively navigating the pandemic’s impact through excellence in supply chain management. Gartner’s top 25 ranking is determined by independent panels and quantitative data comprised of IBM Watson Health Scores and bond ratings. Along with the ranking is a report that highlights what organizations’ supply chain leaders are focusing on, where they are pivoting their resources and how these lessons can help other health systems. Read more.

Conference Will Highlight Strategic Treatment Delineation in AML, CML

As investigators have developed a greater understanding of treating hematologic malignancies, they have been faced with increasingly complex challenges, especially when classifying and treating these cancers. A lot has changed, according to Jorge E. Cortes, MD, director at the Georgia Cancer Center at Augusta University. Cortes shared his insights in an interview with Targeted Therapies in Oncology™ prior to the 26th Annual International Congress on Hematologic Malignancies®: Focus on Leukemias, Lymphomas, and Myeloma. The conference, hosted by Physicians’ Education Resource®, LLC (PER®), will be held in Miami Beach, Florida, in February 2022. Read more.

Newsweek Names Barrow a Top Hospital in the World for Neurosurgery

Newsweek has named Barrow Neurological Institute one of the world’s best hospitals for neurosurgery. The 2022 rankings, developed in partnership with the global research firm Statista, place Barrow at No. 1 in Arizona, 11 in the United States, and 16 worldwide. The list features 125 hospitals total. Barrow is an international leader in the treatment, research, and education of neurological diseases, conditions, and injuries. Led by Dr. Lawton, one of the world’s top neurosurgeons, the Institute performs more neurosurgical procedures annually than any other facility in the United States. Read more.

Drug Treatment Could Improve Effectiveness of Immunotherapy for Cancer Patients

While immunotherapy — a form of treatment that uses the body’s immune system to recognize, attack and kill tumor cells — has given hope to people across the globe, it fails in a significant proportion of cancer patients. However, a new study published in the Nature journal Cell Death Discovery on Monday, July 6, suggests that blocking the tumor-promoting protein MDM2 could bolster immunotherapy’s effectiveness. Read more.

Atrium Health

Cancer Center Members Named as Highly Cited Researchers

Nine members of the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center (HICCC) were honored as 2021 Highly Cited Researchers by Clarivate. In total, Columbia University had 46 Highly Cited Researchers recognized in 2021. The Highly Cited Researchers annual list recognizes scientists who have had major impacts in their fields. To be named to the list, researchers must produce multiple papers ranking in the top 1% globally by citations for their field and year of publication, demonstrating significant research influence among their peers. The inclusion of eight HICCC researchers on this year’s list is a testament to the outstanding work of Columbia University faculty in driving forward significant advancements in cancer research. Read more.

Drug Combination Found to Keep Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia in Young Patients in Remission for Several Years

Young patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) can enjoy long remissions on the drug ibrutinib, but must stay on it indefinitely to keep the cancer in remission. A new study by Dana-Farber Cancer Institute researchers suggests that a 2.5-year regimen involving ibrutinib and chemoimmunotherapy can provide deep, and lasting remissions of the disease. Read more.

Link Between Melanoma and Estrogen Could Lead to New Theraeutic Approach

 The link between estrogens and breast cancer has long been defined, but a Duke-led research team has identified how these hormones can also influence the growth of other cancers, notably melanoma. Building on observations that male melanoma patients who are treated with immune checkpoint inhibitors tend to have better responses than women, the team found that estrogens are a likely driver of the differences in outcomes. Read more.

Atrium Health

Winship Co-led Immunotherapy Studies Show Promise for Patients with Head and Neck Cancer

Researchers at Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University played a leading role in two new studies which could change the way oncologists treat oral cavity squamous cell carcinoma (OCSCC), the most common form of head and neck cancer. The findings, published in Cell Reports Medicine, found that pre-surgery immunotherapy is safe and effective in treating some patients with OCSCC. The studies resulted from a collaboration between Winship, MUSC Hollings Cancer Center and UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center. Read more

Atrium Health

Jeffrey M. Farma Appointed State Chair of American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer

Jeffrey M. Farma, MD, FACS, chief of the Division of General Surgery at Fox Chase Cancer Center, was appointed as the state chair of the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer (CoC) Cancer Liaison Program. Read more.

Atrium Health

DNA Tags Enable Blood-based Tests to Assess Cancer Treatment Outcomes

Cell-free DNA (cfDNA) shed into the blood was discovered in the late 1940s, but with rapid advances in genomics and computational analytics in just the past few years, researchers at Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center now believe that studying tags, or modifications to this type of DNA, may lead to a better understanding of how to assess, and possibly modulate, treatment approaches for cancer and other diseases. Their perspective, drawn from a review of studies to date, appears July 27 in Frontiers in GeneticsRead more.

HOAG First Hospital in OC to Enroll Patients in NK Cell Therapy Clinical Trial for Triple-Negative Breast Cancer Patients

The phase1/b2 open-label study will evaluate the safety and efficacy of a combination of chemo-immunotherapy with “Trodelvy,” a low dose chemotherapy, in combination with Culver City-based ImmunityBio’s Anktiva receptor agonist, and NK cell therapy, a type of immunotherapy. Participants are triple negative breast cancer patients who have at least two prior treatments for metastatic disease. Treatment will continue for up to one year. Hoag is the first and only site in Orange County enrolling patients in the study. Read more.

Jefferson Health, Einstein Healthcare Network Finalize Merger

Jefferson Health and Einstein Healthcare Network announced today the completion of the merger of the two health systems which will drive health care forward throughout Greater Philadelphia. By bringing together two prestigious academic medical centers, the expansion of Jefferson Health creates an integrated 18-hospital health system focused on providing greater access to high-quality patient care in our communities and delivering outstanding health sciences education to tomorrow’s health care professionals. Read more

Eugene A. Woods Names as One of the Most Admired CEOs

Atrium Health President and CEO Eugene A. Woods was named one of Charlotte’s “Most Admired CEOs” by the Charlotte Business Journal at a ceremony held at the JW Marriott Charlotte Thursday evening. The Most Admired CEO Awards program recognizes established local leaders who have a strong vision for their companies, have shown commitment to culture in the workplace and made significant contributions to the Charlotte community. Read more.

Drug Combination Helps Children with Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia Avoid Conventional Chemotherapy

A clinical trial has found that the combination of all-trans retinoic acid, which is a metabolite of vitamin A, and arsenic trioxide is highly effective in children with standard- and high-risk acute promyelocytic leukemia, or APL. Nearly all patients in the trial survived for two years without experiencing a relapse. None of the children with standard-risk APL required conventional chemotherapy, and those with high-risk APL received just four doses of the chemotherapy drug idarubicin (Idamycin PFS). Read more.

Skoracki Named Director of Ohio State’s Stefanie Spielman Comprehensive Breast Center

Roman Skoracki, MD, has been named medical director of the Stefanie Spielman Comprehensive Breast Center (SSCBC) at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James). He  succeeds William Farrar, MD, current chief executive officer of The James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute, who has served as the medical director of the SSCBC since its inception in 2011. Read more.

Connor, Engineering Colleague to Develop Tumor-mimicking Bioaterial

Two Penn State researchers have received a grant for pediatric brain cancer research. James Connor, distinguished professor of neuroscience, neural and behavioral sciences and pediatrics and vice chair for research in the Department of Neurosurgery at Penn State College of Medicine, will join Amir Sheikhi, assistant professor of chemical engineering and biomedical engineering at Penn State, to develop a novel biomaterial that can be used to simulate the response of pediatric brain cancers to different treatment approaches. Read more.

Examining the Development of T-cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia

T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL) is an aggressive type of leukemia. Despite advances in treatments, patients have an extremely poor prognosis, highlighting the need to explore the genetic components that lead to the formation of T-ALL, as well as the need to discover new targeted therapeutic approaches and treatment resistance. Researchers from Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, the state’s only NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, examined the effects of SIRT1, an enzyme located primarily in the cell nucleus that contributes to cellular regulation on the transformation of T-cells.
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Providence Saint John’s Health Center Contributes $2 Million to Stand Up to Cancer Dream Team’s Effort to Reduce Disparities in Colorectal Cancer Screenings

Providence Saint John’s Health Center, renowned for leading-edge cancer care and research, has donated $2 million to the Stand Up To Cancer® (SU2C) Colorectal Cancer Health Equity Dream Team and its commitment to address colorectal cancer screening disparities in medically underserved communities. Saint John’s joins another major supporter of the team; Madison, Wis.-based Exact Sciences Corp., a molecular diagnostics company specializing in the detection of early-stage cancers, which will contribute an estimated $6 million in support of the Dream Team. Read more.

New Study May Lead to Earlier Detection of Many Cancers

Cancer researchers worldwide continue work on seeking new clues to aid early detection and better treatments for cancer. This includes research at Sutter Health to support the validation of a blood test for the detection of multiple types of the disease. On Dec. 8, Sutter began enrolling eligible patients into a study called PATHFINDER 2. Sponsored by GRAIL LLC, PATHFINDER 2 is assessing the diagnostic capabilities of a multi-cancer early detection blood test called Galleri®. PATHFINDER 2 will evaluate the safety and efficacy of the Galleri® test, as well as patients’ adherence to standard-of-care cancer screening tests. Read more.

New Thoracic Oncologist Spearheads Development of Lung Cancer Program

Mark Sides, MD, PhD, joined Tulane’s faculty in July and is building a comprehensive Thoracic Oncology Program that offers the full spectrum of multidisciplinary care for lung cancer patients, from early detection to innovative research to genetic testing and targeted therapies. “Caring for cancer patients is a team sport,” said Sides. “This is especially true with lung cancer. And here at Tulane, we’ve assembled an extremely strong and focused thoracic oncology team. From radiology to interventional pulmonology to radiation oncology, we have highly skilled and excellently trained people in place, all within the Tulane network.” Read more

Cancer-fighting Spinoff from UAB Grows Through IPO, Clinical Trial and New Lab Space in Birmingham

A clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company developing intellectual property licensed from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and two other institutions is testing its technology to treat glioblastoma multiforme, the most aggressive type of cancer that originates in the brain. Read more.

One Step Closer to a Promising Breast Cancer Prevention Strategy

Researchers at the University of Arizona Health Sciences and Stony Brook University have provided the first clinical evidence that a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) may lower the risk of breast cancer and recurrence. “We wanted to see if there are ways to decrease fibrosis, inflammation and other breast cancer markers to lower the risk of cancer actually happening in the first place, and to prevent existing cancer from growing and spreading,” said Pavani Chalasani, MD, MPH, associate professor of medicine at the UArizona Cancer Center and principal investigator of the Arizona study site. Read more.

How Keytruda and Other Immunotherapies Are Expanding Cancer Treatments

Three years ago, after a stubborn cough landed her in the emergency room, Dr. Sanda Cohen made the transition from doctor to patient. Cohen, 64, a pediatrician from Louisville, Kentucky, who’s married with three sons and three grandchildren, thought her ailment was just a severe cold. But after undergoing tests, she was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer on Thanksgiving weekend in 2018. Cohen’s doctors told her she should consider Keytruda, a relatively new immunotherapy treatment that was showing real promise. Cohen didn’t hesitate. Within just weeks, she began Keytruda. And within 3 months, her tumors had shrunk by 50 percent. Read more.

New Program Leadership at the CU Cancer Center

The University of Colorado Cancer Center is pleased to announce several leadership transitions that will support the center in its mission to overcome cancer through innovation, discovery, prevention, early detection, multidisciplinary care, and education.

Patricia Ernst, PhD, a professor of pediatrics and pharmacology, will join Tin Tin Su, PhD, as co-leader of the Molecular and Cellular Oncology Program (MCO), a position most recently held by Craig Jordan, PhD, a professor of hematologyStacy Fischer, MD, an associate professor of internal medicine, will join Jamie Studts, PhD, and Rajesh Agarwal, PhD, to co-lead the Cancer Prevention and Control Program (CPC).  Read more.

Notable and CicloMed Initiate Phase 1B/2A Clinical Trial of Fosciclopirox in Acute Myelogenous Leukemia Under Co-Development Agreement

Notable Labs, Inc. (Notable), a clinical-stage predictive precision therapeutics company and CicloMed LLC (CicloMed), a developmental-stage pharmaceutical company have initiated a Phase 1B/2A clinical trial of fosciclopirox in patients with refractory acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) under the terms of a co-development agreement. In the ongoing open-label, Phase 1B/2A trial currently underway at The University of Kansas Cancer Center, Notable is applying its high-fidelity predictive precision medicines platform with the goal of assessing patient responsiveness to fosciclopirox. Read more.

Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center

Navigation Technology Helps Surgeons Treat Cancer More Effectively

Orthopedic surgeons began using computer-assisted navigation technology back in  1997 to perform the total knee arthroplasty procedure. The technology helped them align a joint replacement implant more precisely, which meant that patients got better mobility, function, and longevity from their implant. As the technology advanced, oncologists began to recognize the benefits of computer-assisted navigation for removing cancerous tumors in the bones (osteosarcomas) and for metastatic tumors that grow into bone tissue. Read more.

New Insights into T-cell Exhaustion COuld Improve Cancer Immunotherapies, Penn Study Finds

Specially engineered immune cells called CAR T cells have proven themselves to be a powerful weapon against blood cancers, but against solid tumors they are much less effective, due in part to a process called T-cell exhaustion. Now researchers at Penn Medicine have illuminated key molecular details of this exhaustion process that point to a specific strategy for overcoming it. Read more.

UPMC Hillman Cancer Center Immunologist & Melanoma Researcher Receives Endowed Annual Award

UPMC Hillman Cancer Center immunologist and melanoma researcher, Diwakar Davar, M.B.B.S., M.Sc., is the 2021 recipient of the Sy Holzer Endowed Immunotherapy Research Award to advance innovative research in cancer immunotherapy. Davar, a medical oncologist and hematologist at UPMC Hillman, also is an assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. He focuses on the treatment of advanced melanoma and the development of early phase studies to test new immunotherapeutic approaches. Read more.

Scalici Awarded 2021 Mayer Mitchell Award for Excellence in Cancer Research

Physician-scientist Jennifer M. Scalici, M.D., has been named the recipient of the 2021 Mayer Mitchell Award for Excellence in Cancer Research. Scalici, chief of gynecologic oncology service at the USA Health Mitchell Cancer Institute and a professor of gynecologic oncology at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, directs MCI’s gynecologic oncology research. Read more.

USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center Launches Global Clinical Trial Testing Potential Therapy for Aggressive Type of Breast Cancer

 USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, part of Keck Medicine of USC, has launched a global registration, phase 2 clinical trial investigating the efficacy of a potential new breast cancer therapy called ARX788. The trial is currently recruiting breast cancer patients whose cancer has metastasized (spread to other areas of the body) and whose tumors show increased levels of a protein called human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2). Read more.

SA Surgeon Performs New Robotic Surgery on Testicular Cancer Patients, allowing Faster Recovery

Testicular cancer is most common in younger men, ages 15-30 years old. In more complicated cases where the disease has spread, the only option used to be a serious open surgery, but a robot is now changing that, getting these young patients back on their feet faster.

Antonio Flores is only 21 and in his prime, so it was a shock in February when he found out he had testicular cancer. “They told me, ‘Yeah we have to remove the testicle.’ I was like, ‘Okay, go ahead.’ I’d rather lose a testicle than my life,” he said. However, that was just the beginning. He then went through weeks of chemotherapy only to find out he was one of the rare patients whose lymph nodes in the back of his abdomen were still infected. Read more.

UT Southwestern Launches SPORE-funded National Resource to Advance Precision Medicine for Kidney Cancer

Funded by a Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) award from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the Kidney Cancer Program (KCP) at UT Southwestern’s Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center reports the largest and most diverse catalog of kidney cancer tumor models to date.

Kidney cancer is the eighth most frequently diagnosed cancer in the U.S. Despite the development of new drugs to treat kidney cancer, it remains largely incurable when metastatic. Most Food and Drug Administration-approved drugs were developed to treat clear cell renal cell carcinoma, the most common form of kidney cancer, but there are more than a dozen other types. Drug development for less frequent types has been limited by a lack of animal models suitable for preclinical studies. Read more.

Huntsman Cancer Institute Outpatient Clinics Earn Press Ganey Pinnacle of Excellence Award

The outpatient clinics at Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) at the University of Utah (U of U) have earned the Press Ganey Pinnacle of Excellence Award. The award recognizes health care facilities who have maintained consistently high levels of excellence over three years in patient experience, employee engagement, physician engagement, or clinical quality performance. Read more.

A Selection of VHIO Research Highlights at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium 2021

Among the many studies that counted on the participation of VHIO researchers and clinical investigators at VHIO as first and/or co-authors were several clinical trials developed by the SOLTI academic Breast Cancer Research Group.

Co-led by VHIO’s Cristina Saura, Principal Investigator of our Breast Cancer Group and Mafalda Oliveira, a Clinical Investigator and Medical Oncologist of the same group, first results from the SOLTI-1507 IPATHER study of the safety and efficacy of combining ipatasertib, a potent AKT inhibitor, with trastuzumab with pertuzumab in patients with HER2+ PIK3CA-mutated breast cancer were presented and discussed during Poster Session 1 (Track: Advanced Disease Treatment: Advanced Therapy, Targeted – P1-18-34). Read more.

Virginia Cancer Specialists Participating in National Pilot Project to Increase Diversity in Cancer Treatment Trials

Virginia Cancer Specialists was invited to participate in a national Pilot Project being conducted by the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and the Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC). The pilot project is testing a research site self-assessment tool and an implicit bias training program focused on increasing racial and ethnic diversity among cancer treatment trial participants.

The joint ASCO-ACCC initiative was designed to identify and implement novel strategies and practical solutions to increase cancer treatment trial participation among patients from racial and ethnic minority communities, which continue to be under-represented in cancer research when compared with their percentages in the overall population of patients with cancer. Read more

Washington University Scientists at Siteman Cancer Center Named to Influential Researchers List

Nine research members of Siteman Cancer Center were named to Clarivate’s Highly Cited Researchers list of 2021. The nine, who are faculty members of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, demonstrate significant research influence among their peers, according to Clarivate, a scientific and academic research analytics company. Those named to the international list produced multiple papers that ranked in the top 1% by citations for their field and year of publication. Read more.

Asfar Azmi, Ph.D. Receives 2021 Kales Award for Breakthrough in Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma Treatment

Asfar Azmi, Ph.D., associate professor, Department of Oncology at the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute and Wayne State University School of Medicine, has been selected as the winner of the 2021 Anthony and Joyce Danielski Kales Endowed Faculty Award for Innovative Cancer Researcher for his research on Selinexor with Gemcitabine and Nab-Paclitaxel for the treatment of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma. Read more.

Protein Variant Identified That Renders Chemotherapy Ineffective in Gastric Cancer

A new protein variant underlies the ability of gastric cancers to resist an otherwise effective family of chemotherapy drugs, according to a study by a multidisciplinary team at Weill Cornell Medicine. The results suggest a treatment strategy that could improve the prognoses of many patients with cancer.

The study, published Oct. 20 in Developmental Cell, and led by co-first authors, Drs. Prashant Thakkar and Katsuhiro Kita, former postdocs at Weill Cornell Medicine, combined clinical insight, laboratory experiments and sophisticated computational analysis to determine how some tumor cells resist a family of chemotherapy drugs called taxanes. Taxane treatment works by interfering with proteins that make up the cell’s internal skeleton, but the variant protein, called CLIP-170S, allows cancer cells to dodge that interference. Read more.

WVU Cancer Institute

WVU Gets FDA Approval for Clinical Trial of Drug to Treat Eye Cancer “From the Inside Out”

In the past, doctors would treat tumors with chemotherapy, but they couldn’t avoid hitting healthy cells, too. Today cancer treatments have grown more accurate, and scientists at West Virginia University are working to level-up their accuracy even more.

Mark McLaughlin—a researcher with the WVU Cancer Institute and Modulation Therapeutics Inc.—and his colleagues are developing a cancer treatment that zeroes in on the diseased cells with more precision. Based on extensive preclinical research, they have received approval from the Food and Drug Administration to begin human trials of a new drug to treat eye-cancer. The team designed the drug—called MTI-201—to treat uveal melanoma after the cancer has traveled to another part of the body. Read more.