MESSAGE FROM THE DIRECTOR
Stan Gerson, MD
Director, Case CCC
Sharifi Appointed Co-Leader of GU Malignancies Program
Nima Sharifi, MD has been appointed as co-leader of the Genitourinary Cancer (GU) Program for the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center. Joining Program co-leader Dr. Brian Rini, they presented the program at the recent External Advisory Board (EAB) meeting. Richard Cote, a member of the EAB, commented on the progress made in the program and on the importance of keeping together the research base in prostate, kidney and bladder cancers and the effort in clinical trials. Dr. Sharifi's own interests in prostate cancer will complement the interests of Dr. Rini in kidney cancer and clinical trials.
Dr. Sharifi is the Kendrick Family Endowed Chair for Prostate Cancer Research at the Cleveland Clinic. He is a professor of cancer biology at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University, and a member of the Department of Cancer Biology and the Glickman Urologic Institute. He studies the process of steroid metabolism and androgen receptor function in prostate cancer. Standard treatment for patients with advanced prostate cancer involves androgen deprivation therapy (ADT), as androgens are the driving force in the progression of this disease. His work helps to explain why conventional treatments result in clinical responses that are almost always temporary because tumors learn to make their own androgens. Dr. Sharifi discovered the metabolic pathway and genetic variance that is the root of this clinical observation, opening the door for clinical testing to identify patients at risk and new therapeutic targets.
Dr. Sharifi's laboratory recently discovered a genetic mutation in an androgen synthesizing enzyme present in drug-resistant prostate cancer tumors. (Chang, et all, Cell, 2013), and he contributed a review on this subject for the New England Journal of Medicine in 2014. The mutation makes it possible for tumors to create their own supply of androgens that fuel the growth of cancer even after androgen deprivation therapy.
Review of the First Adolescent & Young Adult (AYA) Cancer Symposium in Cleveland
Guest Message by John Letterio, MD, Chief, Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, UH Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital
This past week, the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center hosted the first biannual Adolescent & Young Adult (AYA) Cancer Symposium in Cleveland, which was held at the Wolstein Research Building Auditorium. The symposium started on a high note with the Annual Angie Fowler Lecture on Adolescent & Young Adult Cancer, given by Dr. Nita Siebel, Head of the Solid Tumor Section at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Cancer Therapy and Evaluation Program (CTEP), and clearly set the stage for the Cancer Center's new scientific initiative focused on research in AYA Cancer.
The conference was organized in a collaborative effort by faculty and staff in the Angie Fowler AYA Cancer Institute at UH Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital together with faculty from Doernbecher Children's Hospital and the Knight Cancer Center at Oregon Health Sciences University (OHSU), with the support of Cancer Center central administration. The conference attracted nearly 200 participants from academic medical centers, major non-profit organizations, patients and commercial vendors, who came from as far away as Texas, Oregon, Boston and Florida.
Those who attended were treated to an inspirational and informative two days of talks by national leaders in the field. With a goal to raise awareness about AYA Cancer, the symposium speakers spoke of strategic opportunities for research specific to cancer in the AYA population as well as opportunities to improve clinical and behavioral outcomes. Leaders from two major AYA Cancer nonprofit organizations collaborated in a session in which Heidi Adams, an AYA cancer survivor and the CEO of Critical Mass, reviewed nearly two decades of effort that have brought this field into the spotlight, and Simon Davies, CEO of Teen Cancer America, led a discussion on the opportunities that lie ahead. Mr. Davies treated the audience to a preview of a video that his organization created to highlight the great work underway at the UH Angie Fowler Institute, featuring interviews with very special two-time survivors of AYA cancer who received their care at Angie's Institute.
A Way Forward in a Challenging Environment
The symposium had two tracks, including a psychosocial track focused on information for patients, survivors and caregivers that delved into the psychosocial complexities of the AYA oncology population. The scientific track covered specific advances in targeted tumor-based therapy. Lectures by Dr. John Perentesis, Professor and Oncology Division Director at Cincinnati Children's Hospital, and by Deborah Morosini, Vice President of Clinical Development at Foundation Medicine, highlighted advances in pharmacogenomics and how they are beginning to inform treatment modalities and clinical trials objectives for cancers common to AYA patients.
Lectures by Dr. Brandon Hayes-Latin, Director of the AYA Cancer Program at OHSU, and by Dr. Lindsay Frazier of the Dana Farber Cancer Institute shed light on how reorganization of the NCI infrastructure supporting the clinical trials process is enhancing collaborations between the Children's Oncology Group and those cooperative groups developing clinical trials for adult cancer patients. The hope is that this type of collaboration will have an impact on the current and unacceptably low participation of AYA cancer patients in clinical trials.
The symposium ended with an incredibly inspirational and insightful lecture by Clifton Leaf, Deputy Editor of Fortune Magazine, AYA cancer survivor, and author of The Truth in Small Doses: Why We are Losing the War on Cancer and What We Need to do to Win It. Mr. Leaf challenged us to consider how the scientific community may have forgotten lessons from our predecessors, using the story of the Irish one-eyed surgeon Denis Burkitt and his 10,000 mile journey to solve the mystery of "African Lymphoma" to contrast the challenges to our progress, then and now. The statistics that Leaf provides in his book, and presented in brief in his lecture, not only back up his assertion that we're "losing the war," but also challenge us to work as advocates from within the "dysfunctional cancer culture" to push for real change in how science is funded and in how institutions, investigators and industry collaborate, which must happen if we are to save our next generation of scientists...and the many patients whose lives will ultimately depend on them.
CASE CCC IN THE NEWS
Trumbull Woman Chooses Surgery Over Possible Breast Cancer Diagnosis
WFMJ.com - Oct 31, 2014
It's a diagnosis that's haunted her family for four generations. Heidi Berry watched her mother battled breast cancer three times. Instead of waiting to see if she'd be next, Berry decided to take control, starting with testing to see if she carried the BRCA genes. The DNA test that determines if you carry one or two genes associated with breast cancer...She traveled to University Hospitals in Cleveland this month with her family by her side and checked in for the potentially life-altering procedure. Removing both of her breasts is one method of prevention. Women can also opt for frequent testing and monitoring that can often be coupled with medication. Dr. Julian Kim is a surgical oncologist at University Hospitals and member of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center. He says Berry would have a high risk of developing breast cancer. "If her risk of getting breast cancer is 85 percent, with this surgery, her risk of getting breast cancer will be reduced to about 2 to 5 percent, which is pretty dramatic," Kim said.
Cleveland Clinic Puts IBM's Watson on the Case for Treating Cancer Patients
Crain's Cleveland Business- Oct 29, 2014
Cancer has a new enemy: An IBM computer that happens to be extremely good at Jeopardy! Researchers at the Cleveland Clinic aim to figure out how doctors might use IBM's Watson technology to treat cancer patients...Now the hospital system's Lerner Research Institute will study how doctors could use a genomic analytics technology that relies on Watson's so-called "cognitive computing" ability. The technology can recognize patterns in a patient's genome and determine a treatment for the patient, with the help of medical journals and other information available at Watson's digital fingertips...
Local Innovators in the Spotlight at Cleveland Clinic Medical Innovation Summit
Freshwater Cleveland - Oct 27, 2014
Often called the premier healthcare gathering in the country, the Cleveland Clinic's 12th annual Medical Innovation Summit takes place at the Cleveland Convention Center beginning Monday, October 27th through Wednesday, October 29th. More than 1,500 of the country's top medical innovators will descend on Cleveland to discuss and debate topics around this year's theme: Now it's Personal: Cancer and Personalized Medicine. The event is jam-packed with fascinating topics such as cancer approaches around the world. Fresh Water sought out four of Cleveland's top innovators who are speaking at the summit...Charis Eng, chair of Cleveland Clinic's Genomic Medicine Institute and Case Comprehensive Cancr Center member: Ten percent of all diseases have an underlying genetic cause, from heart disease to cancer. Charis Eng, a leader in cancer genetics, is quick to say genetic testing for cancers that run in your family is not a fishing expedition to find some potentially bad news, but rather a good way to stay educated and prepared...Brian Bolwell, chair of the Cleveland Clinic Taussig Cancer Center Institute and member of the Case Comprehensive Cancr Center: Similarly, Brian Bolwell looks at what medical professionals should do with the wealth of information available about cancer today. "The way we approach cancer has changed pretty dramatically in the last 10 years," he says. "What can we do if you're trying to change the way to treat people and change a culture?"
MEMBER & RESEARCH HIGHLIGHTS
Delivering a One-Two Punch: New Drug Combination Shows Promise as Powerful Treatment for Breast Cancer
The uncontrolled growth of cancer cells arises from their ability to hijack the cell's normal growth program and checkpoints. Usually after therapy, a second cancer-signaling pathway will open after the primary one shuts down – creating an ingenious escape route for the cancer cell to survive. The answer, say Case Western Reserve researchers, is to anticipate and block that back-up track by prescribing two drugs from the start. The results of the project, led by Ruth Keri, PhD, Professor and Vice Chair Department of Pharmacology, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, and Associate Director for Basic Research in the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, appeared this fall in the journal Cancer Research.
Of course, the effort was hardly so simple as doubling up. The scientists had to pick specific medications that precisely countered the cancer cells' moves. Essentially, Keri and her colleagues used one medicine, rapamycin, to stop the cancer cell growth, and a second one, dasatinib, to trick the cancer cells into thinking that the original growth was still proceeding apace.
The scientists selected the drug rapamycin, an inhibitor of the protein mTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin), and dasatinib, a drug that blocks Src-family kinases (SFKs). Interestingly, neither drug, when used alone, has demonstrated significant clinical efficacy in treating breast cancer. Ongoing clinical trials combining dasatinib or rapamycin with other therapies have been promising; however, this study is the first to show that the combination of these two drugs may be beneficial in treating breast cancer. [more]
AMERICAN ASSOCIATION FOR CANCER RESEARCH
AACR Annual Meeting 2015: Call for Clinical Trials Abstracts
The AACR Annual Meeting will be held April 18-22, 2015 in Philadelphia. AACR is encouraging attendees to submit clinical trials for presentation at the AACR Annual Meeting 2015 to facilitate the continued growth of the invaluable clinical content of this meeting. There will be at least 38 opportunities for the oral presentation of clinical trials at the Annual Meeting, including the presentation in the Opening Plenary Session of an outstanding clinical trial that holds promise for changing clinical practice and approaches. We also offer four marquee Clinical Trials Symposia which will feature tandem presentations of the trial data and the science informing the trial. Please keep in mind that there are also many poster sessions, including one focusing on highly informative "Trials in Progress."
Clinical trial abstracts that are available by the Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014 deadline should be submitted to the appropriate Clinical Trial (CT) category. Late-breaking and placeholder abstracts should be submitted by Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015. If a placeholder abstract is submitted, completed abstracts must be submitted no later than Friday, Feb. 27, 2015. Full instructions and guidelines for submitting clinical trials are available Annual Meeting website. Abstracts selected for presentation will be embargoed in accordance with AACR guidelines.
Lila and Murray Gruber Memorial Cancer Research Award and Lectureship
The American Academy of Dermatology Lila and Murray Gruber Memorial Cancer Research Award is one of the largest and most prestigious medical awards. The cash award of $10,000 will be made in recognition of the investigator's lifetime achievements in the field of cancer research. The award has been made possible by a gift from Murray Gruber in memory of his wife. Its purpose is to encourage participation in cancer research and to provide a forum for the enrichment of knowledge of dermatologists in this important scientific field. At the discretion of the task force, the award may be divided between two worthy nominees.
Deadline: February 28, 2015
Support of Case CCC Scientific Program Projects
Proposals are requested from the Case CCC Scientific Programs addressing unique research opportunities, innovative ideas or areas identified as strategically important to the program. Proposals must be for projects that are aligned with the goals described in the Cancer Center Strategic Plan. They may build on the institutional investments in genomics and informatics, drug screening and discovery, promote the development and use of new technologies, foster new collaborations or strengthen existing research teams through the development of new research areas aligned with the scientific program strategic plan. Attention to catchment area related research is preferred. Proposals should be multi-investigator in nature, with inclusion of translational or clinical research projects.
Each program is asked to submit one response to this RFA.Program leaders must be engaged in identifying potential areas or recommending topics and proposals for the program. Proposals must be reviewed by a committee within the program that is convened specifically for this purpose before being submitted to the Cancer Center Executive Committee. The Executive Committee will make the final determination for funding after evaluating proposals and reviews. It is expected that the research projects will lead to nationally competitive grant proposals from multi-investigator teams.
Deadline for Submission to Program Leaders: November 7
Deadline for Submission of priority proposals to Executive Committee: December 15
Support of Multi-investigator Initiatives in the Case CCC
The Case CCC will provide two modes of support to new research teams that plan to submit large multi-investigator grant applications (usually non-R support mechanisms).
- Administrative support and funding for travel are available to encourage team member meetings and meetings with external advisors.
- Pilot project funding for research teams with an established track record of collaborative research is available to support key research initiatives that are necessary to generate competitive multi-investigator proposals.
Requests are competitive. The research team must demonstrate the active engagement of members, clearly articulate the significance and innovation of the project, and provide a roadmap for acquisition of external funding. Advocacy and support of the specific program leadersinteracting with the team is required. Discussion with Ruth Keri, PhD, Associate Director for Basic Research, is strongly encouraged before developing an application.
PREVIOUSLY ANNOUNCED OPPORTUNITIES
5th Annual DeGregorio Foundation Award for Cancers of the Esophagus and Stomach
Sidney Kimmel Foundation for Cancer Research Kimmel Scholar Award
Support of Multi-investigator Initiatives in the Case CCC
NIH BULLETIN – Notices and Funding Opportunities
Notice of Intent to Publish a Funding Opportunity Announcement for Centers for Mendelian Genomics (UM1)(NOT-HG-15-006)
Notice of Corrections to RFA-TR-14-009 "Clinical and Translational Science Award (U54)"(NOT-TR-14-013)
National Cancer Institute Program Project Applications (P01)(PAR-15-023)
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