MESSAGE FROM THE DIRECTOR
Stan Gerson, MD
Director, Case CCC
Review of the First International Cancer Stem Cell Conference in Cleveland
This past week, the Cancer Center and National Center for Regenerative Medicine sponsored the first biannual Cancer Stem Cell Conference in Cleveland, which was held at the newly refurbished Cleveland Convention Center.
Organized by Justin Lathia, Huiping Liu, and Jeremy Rich with the support of our staff including Michael Gilkey and Lyn Haselton, the conference attracted over 320 individuals for a three and a half day review of advances in the field. We had individuals from 85 different institutions including 46 cancer centers, over 35 commercial vendors with expertise in this area, and experts from 16 different countries. There were 96 poster presentations in addition to the full program of oral presentations.
I am sorry that we could not open the conference free of charge to the entire Cancer Center, but obviously the financial issues of generating support for such a conference are quite substantial and we needed to charge a registration fee.
For those who attended, it was a remarkable conference. Many individuals had come to Cleveland and interacted with our Cancer Center members for the very first time. The quality and interactive nature of the scientific investigation was extraordinary. The presenters from our Cancer Center held their own and were just as imaginative and provocative as those from other institutions.
What Did We Learn?
First, there is a real consensus around the concept of cancer stem cells and cancer-initiating cells with the careful assessment and interpretation of this subset of cells involved in the pathogenesis of cancer.
Second, recent advances make it possible to consider specific targeted therapeutics that would address toxicity towards the cancer stem cell population.
Third, the genome is insufficient to rely on in order to define cancer stem cells, because gene expression profiles, epigenetics, metabolic pathways, and cytokines of the microenvironment are critical.
Fourth, it is clear that the microenvironment matters to cancer stem cell survival, expansion and evolution. Perhaps the microenvironment is an important feature as we move forward through genomic identification of tumors because cancer stem cells appear to involve direct connection to their microenvironment.
Fifth, the premalignant stages of cancer that predisposes to the clonal evolution of cancer stem cells may start at birth and if not, years or decades before the onset of cancer. Understanding the initiation and progression processes will be critical.
Finally, even though cancer stem cells are present in primary tumors, these tumors evolve their metastatic potential and their stem cell population. The clonal evolution and plasticity of the genetic, epigenetic and microenvironment driven changes are likely responsible for recurrence and metastasis.
I hope my comments raise even more questions and dialogue for you than they did for me. I look forward to our active consideration of the role and importance of cancer stem cells in each of our fields of interest within cancer research.
CASE CCC IN THE NEWS
Case Western Reserve University Hosts Cancer Stem Cell Conference
WKSU - Aug 20, 2014
For several years now, researchers have been kicking around a theory to explain how cancer operates in the body. They think tumors are spurred on by a certain group of cells known as "cancer stem cells." Dr. Stan Gerson heads up the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center and the National Center for Regenerative Medicine. He says these cancer stem cells are the guys at the wheel. "These are the drivers," Gerson says. "They're the fundamental reason that we can't cure cancer today and why new treatments that are designed to first get rid of the bulk of the tumor and then immediately come back and go after the cancer stem cell are so important."
AACI Members Choose Gerson, Loehrer, Sellers for New Leadership
Newswise- Aug 19, 2014
The Association of American Cancer Institutes (AACI) announces the election of Stanton L. Gerson, MD, as vice-president/president-elect, effective in October...."I look forward to Stan's expanded leadership position with AACI," said AACI Executive Director Barbara Duffy Stewart. "As both a researcher and administrator, Stan possesses the expertise and range of skills that will propel AACI's continued support of its members' collaborative efforts toward a cancer-free world."
Novel Human Tissue Samples Available For Research and Development
Yahoo Finance - Aug 19, 2014
The Ohio Clinical Trials Collaborative (OCTC) offers drug discovery and development investigators with access to well-annotated human tissue samples for medical research. More than 16,500 frozen samples are stored at the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center's Tissue Resources Core facility located at University Hospitals Case Medical Center, the primary affiliate of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. "It's exciting to be working with the Ohio Clinical Trials Collaborative on potential opportunities for business development where we can both provide human tissue samples for research and serve as a central biorepository," states Robert Wyza, Director of Operations at the Human Tissue Procurement Facility and the Comprehensive Cancer Center Tissue Resources Core.
CWRU Prof Who Cited Legal Challenge to Obamacare to Kick Off Quarterly Health Policy Speaker Series
The Plain Dealer - Aug 19, 2014
Case Western Reserve University is launching a quarterly health policy speaker series in an effort to bring together people throughout Cleveland – experts and average folks from different professional and community walks of life – to talk about how to improve the health and quality of life of the city's residents...CWRU law professor Jonathan Adler, director of the law school's Center for Business Law & Regulation, will give the first talk Aug. 27 on "Is the Affordable Care Act in Jeopardy? The Continuing Legal Challenges to the ACA and its Implementation."...Issues such as the legal loopholes of the ACA, also known as Obamacare, and the intricacies of the health insurance marketplace are complex but important issues that everyone should care about, said Dr. Johnie Rose, program director for the preventive medicine residency program at University Hospitals Case Medical Center and one of the series organizers. "These discussions and talking about health policy are geared toward, how we are going to improve the health of our community," said Rose, who also is an assistant professor at CWRU.
Director of the National Cancer Research Institute in Taiwan Visits Case CCC
Last week, Hsing-jien Kung, PhD, Director of the National Cancer Research Institute in Taiwan, was in Cleveland and he made a stop at the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center to visit some of his former colleagues, including Drs. Nathan Berger, Stan Gerson, and Sanford Markowitz (pictured). Dr. Kung was the Case CCC Associate Director for Basic Research from 1987-1996, and left for UC Davis where he holds the same position half-time.
NEWS FROM THE NCI
NCI Announces Launch of Three Integrated Precision Medicine Trials
The National Cancer Institute (NCI) announced the launch of three new trials collectively known as the Adjuvant Lung Cancer Enrichment Marker Identification and Sequencing Trials (ALCHEMIST). These trials aim to identify early-stage lung cancer patients with tumors that harbor certain uncommon genetic changes and evaluate whether drug treatments targeted against those molecular changes can lead to improved survival. For those without the genetic changes, their tumors will be collected and assayed extensively using genetic testing to hopefully better understand determinants of causation, prognosis, and treatment.
NCI's National Clinical Trials Network (NCTN) sites are conducting new precision medicine trials like ALCHEMIST that test targeted treatments for smaller subsets of cancers. The first NCTN precision medicine trial, Lung-MAP, launched in June. ALCHEMIST is supported by NCI with leadership and coordination of the component trials by the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology and the ECOG-ACRIN Cancer Research Group. All of the NCI-supported NCTN groups have collaborated in the development of ALCHEMIST and are participating in the component trials. For additional information about ALCHEMIST, visit www.cancer.gov.
American Cancer Society RFA: Pilot and Exploratory Projects in Palliative Care of Cancer Patients and Their Families
The development of the specialty of palliative medicine is a critical step in addressing the unmet needs of patients with serious illness and their families. Pilot data are typically needed before funding agencies (e.g., NIH, VA or the American Cancer Society) will consider funding a research project. In an effort to support clinician investigators conducting patient-oriented research in palliative care, the American Cancer Society, in parallel with the National Palliative Care Research Center (NPCRC), is soliciting applications for pilot/exploratory research grants in palliative care of cancer patients and their families. These grants will generate the pilot data necessary to maximize an investigator's chances of competing successfully for larger grants.
Applications may be submitted by not-for-profit institutions located within the United States, its territories and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Applicants must be United States citizens, non-citizen nationals or permanent residents of the United States. Applicants must hold a doctorate degree (MD, PhD, or equivalent) and have a full-time faculty position or equivalent at a college, university, medical school, or other fiscally responsible not-for-profit organization within the United States. Independent investigators at all stages of their career are eligible to apply. Thus, the usual ACS restriction to investigators within the first six years of their initial independent research appointment does not apply to this RFA.
Application Deadline: October 15
MARK YOUR CALENDARS
2nd Annual Genetics Education Symposium:Genetics and Genomics: Roadmap for Clinical Practice, The Journey Continues
The Cleveland Clinic Genomic Medicine Institute is hosting the 2nd Annual Genetics Education Symposium, Genetics and Genomics: Roadmap for Clinical Practice, The Journey Continues, September 4 at the Intercontinental Hotel and Bank of America Conference Center.
This program, presented by Cleveland Clinic Genomic Medicine Institute, will provide the opportunity to review the latest advances in genetics and genomics and provide state-of-the-art information to healthcare providers treating patients with genetic conditions. Expert Cleveland Clinic faculty will present case-based presentations highlighting the integration of genetics and genomics into clinical practice across multiple disciplines. CME and CE credits will be offered.
Biomedical and Health Informatics Workshop: Strides, Stumbles, and Grand Challenges
The CWRU Schools of Medicine, Nursing, Engineering, and University Hospitals jointly welcome you to the first of what we hope to be many annual "workshops" on the topics of biomedical and health informatics. This fall we bring together organizations from across the region to explore the dynamic and growing field of biomedical and health informatics for Biomedical and Health Informatics Workshop (BIW): Strides, Stumbles, and Grand Challenges, September 16-17 at the Tinkham Veale University Center.
BIW is an intensive two-day experience for participants from a variety of disciplines to engage with others on the theme of "Strides, Stumbles, and Grand Challenges," in the field of informatics. In this educational forum we will use lectures, panel discussions, and small-group working sessions, to enable participants to: learn about "state-of-the art" from CWRU faculty; deliberate and identify regional grand challenges in informatics; identify potential collaborators; and develop specific "next steps" and action plans for the year ahead.