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Member News & Updates

The Case Comprehensive Cancer Center is comprised of over 370 members, who span 32 departments of the Schools of Medicine, Nursing, Dentistry, Engineering, Applied Social Sciences, and the College of Arts and Sciences at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU), located at CWRU, University Hospitals Case Medical Center (UHCMC), Cleveland Clinic, and MetroHealth Medical Center (MHMC).

Sen Recognized with Lifetime Membership Award

Ganes C. Sen, PhD, Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, Department of Immunology, Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute, received the prestigious Honorary Lifetime Membership Award from the International Cytokine and Interferon Society at its November "Cytokines 2017" conference in Kanazawa, Japan, according to a release posted by the Lerner Research Institute. Dr. Sen was honored for his research related to the role of interferons in antiviral responses. more>

Desai Receives Pathway to Independence Award for BMT Research

Amar Desai, PhD has received a K99/R00 award for this project, "Towards Improving Bone Marrow Transplantation via Inhibition of 15-PGDH." Desai is a  Senior Research Associate in the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, and is  mentored by Drs. Stan Gerson and Sanford Markowitz. 

Emina Huang Awarded Grant to Better Understand Colorectal Cancer

Emina Huang, MDhas been awarded a collaborative five-year, $2.6 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to create innovative models of colorectal cancer that will enhance understanding of how the disease develops and spreads. Huang is a member of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, a colorectal surgeon in the Digestive Disease and Surgery Institute, and a staff member in the Lerner Research Institute's Department of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine. more>

Youth Enjoy Science (YES) Grant Brings Diversity to Cancer Research

The Case Comprehensive Cancer Center and CWRU School of Medicine were awarded a five-year grant, totaling $2.5 million to engage underrepresented minorities in Cleveland-area schools in cancer research.
The Youth Enjoy Science (YES) Program, supported by the National Cancer Institute, is the first and only program at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine to provide a comprehensive and integrated approach to cancer research training, spanning middle school, through high school, and extending to college undergraduates. more> 

Pediatric Oncology Expert Alex Huang Briefs Senate on Pediatric Immunotherapy

On October 25, 2017, Alex Huang, MD, PhD, co-Leader of the Hematopoietic and Immune Cancer Biology Program at the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, was an  invited panelist for a Senate Briefing on Advances in Pediatric Immunotherapy, sponsored by St. Baldrick's Foundation and Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Michael Bennet (D-CO). more>

Cleveland Clinic Researchers Discover Cancer Stem Cell Pathway in Endometrial Cancer

A team of researchers led Justin Lathia, PhD and Ofer Reizes, PhD, of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center and Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, have discovered a key pathway that leads to recurrence and treatment resistance in endometrial cancer, providing the potential for much needed new therapies for women with limited options (Saygin, J Exp Med, 2017). 

The following Case CCC members are co-authors on the study: Drs. Daniel J. Lindner, Analisa DiFeo, Fadi W. Abdul-Karim, Peter G. Rose, Haider Mahdi, and Keith R. McCrae.  more>

CWRU Awarded Funding to Understand How A Virus-Like Particle from Plants Stimulates Potent Anti-Tumor Response

Nicole Steinmetz, PhD, Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Radiology, member of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Center for RNA Science and Therapeutics in the Division of General Medical Sciences at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, and the holder of the George J. Picha Designated Professor in Biomaterials, has received a major grant from the National Institutes of Health to help understand how a virus-like particle from plants stimulates potent anti-tumor responses. more>

Hyundai Hope On Wheels Presents UH Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital With $50,000 Hyundai Impact Award to Support Pediatric Cancer Program

On  Tuesday, August 15 , Hyundai Hope On Wheels®  presented University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital (UH Rainbow) with a $50,000 Hyundai Impact Award. UH Rainbow is one of 25 recipients of this year's award, which is given to pediatric oncology departments at select children's hospitals nationwide. UH Rainbow will use the funds to support the work of Drs.  Alex Huang and John Letterio  at UH Rainbow's Angie Fowler Adolescent & Young Adult Cancer Institute. Drs. Huang and Letterio plan to develop a program to strengthen their team of physician-scientists in the areas of biological science and clinical medicine. more>

Defeating Cancer

Tune in to WVIZ/PBS tonight at 8p to watch the new documentary, Defeating Cancer, which chronicles the journey of several cancer patients while highlighting recent advances in cancer treatment and precision medicine. Cancer Center members  Drs. Stan Gerson, Christopher Hoimes, Vinod Labhasetwar, David Mansur, and Geoffrey Vince are all featured in this informative documentary. 

Case Comprehensive Cancer Center Analyzes Brain Tumor Data, Doubles Known Risk Factors for Glioma

A massive new study involving blood samples from over 30,000 individuals has identified 13 new genetic risk factors for glioma, the most common type of malignant brain tumor in adults. The study, published in Nature Genetics [ Melin BS. Nat Genet 2017 Mar 27], reveals specific differences in a person's DNA that increase susceptibility to glioma tumors, and for the first time allows doctors to distinguish between a person's risk of developing tumor subtypes including glioblastoma and non-glioblastoma. Together malignant brain tumors cause an estimated 13,000 deaths in the United States annually. more>

Rarely Studied Gene USF3 Plays Role in Predisposition to Thyroid Cancer

engcCharis Eng, MD, PhD, of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center and Cleveland Clinic and her team have discovered that a faulty, rarely studied gene called USF3 may predispose individuals to thyroid cancer. They recently published this discovery in Human Molecular Genetics [ Ni Y. Hum Mol Genet. 2017]. more>

Cancer Center Member Images Selected for NCI Cancer Close Up Project

Images submitted by Cancer Center members have been chosen as part of the 2017 National Cancer Institute (NCI) Cancer Close Up project. The images will be featured at the AACR or ASCO Annuals meetings, or online at the  NCI Visuals Online website [details below].
Nanoparticles Deliver Theranostic Imaging Agent
Will be displayed (a cropped version to fit display parameters) at the NCI exhibit booth (#4052) during the ASCO meeting in Chicago, June 2-6, along with other images selected by our reviewers. 
Creators: Joey Mangadlao, Xinning Wang, Christopher McCleese, Clemens Burda, James Basilion

Nanoparticles Arriving at Target in Brain Cancer Cells
Included in the full online collection.
Creators: Joey Mangadlao, Yu Cheng, Xinning Wang, Christopher McCleese, Clemens Burda, James Basilion

Nanoparticles in Breast Cancer Metastases
Will be displayed at the NCI exhibit booth (#1407) during the AACR meeting in Washington D.C., April 1-5.
Creators: Felicia He, William Schiemann, Pubudu Peiris, Efstathios Karathanasis

Targeted Nanochains in Brain Tumor
Will be displayed at the NCI exhibit booth (#4052) during the ASCO meeting in Chicago, June 2-6.
Creators: Gil Covarrubias, David Wilson, Chris Flask, Efstathios Karathanasis

American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting 2017

The American Association for Cancer Research ( AACR) will hold its annual meeting April 1-5, 2017 in Washington, DC. This meeting highlights the best cancer science and medicine world-wide, and we are excited to have many members and trainees participating. 
We have compiled a list of Case Comprehensive Cancer Center presentations [view list]. We do our best to make the list comprehensive. However, if we missed you, please email  and we will correct the version posted online. 
Best of luck to all participants! 

Madabhushi Team Awarded Patent on Lung Cancer Diagnosis

madabhushiaAnant Madabhushi, PhD, the F. Alex Nason professor II of biomedical engineering and director of the Center for Computational Imaging and Personalized Diagnostics (CCIPD), and his team were issued a patent relating to lung nodule diagnosis on non-contrast CT scans. 

U.S. patent 9,595,103 titled "Textural Analysis of Lung Nodules" describes methods, apparatus and other embodiments associated with classifying a lung nodule on a CT scan using textural analysis. One example apparatus includes an image acquisition logic that acquires an image of a region of tissue demonstrating Ground Glass opacity (GGO) nodule pathology, a delineation logic that distinguishes GGO nodule tissue within the image from the background of the image, a texture logic that extracts a set of texture features from the image, a phenotype signature logic that computes a phenotypic signature from the image, a shape logic that extracts a set of shape features from the image, and a classification logic that classifies the GGO nodule tissue based, at least in part, on the set of texture features, the phenotypic signature, or the set of shape features. A prognosis for a patient may be provided based on the classification of the image. Co-inventors include Drs Mirabela Rusu, Mahdi Orooji, and Mehdi Alilou. Drs Rusu and Alilou are former research associates at CCIPD while Dr. Orooji is currently a postdoctoral fellow at CCIPD.

Reversing Enzalutamide Resistance Offers Promise for Treating Advanced Prostate Cancer

Dr. Nima SharifiA research team led by Nima Sharifi, MD, Co-Leader, GU Malignancies Program, Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, and Kendrick Family Endowed Chair for Prostate Cancer Research, has uncovered a cause of prostate cancer drug resistance and was able to reverse the resistance in human prostate cancer cells grown in a mouse model.

Unfortunately, enzalutamide does not work indefinitely, and tumors eventually become resistant to it as well.
As published in eLife [Li J. eLife. 2017], Dr. Sharifi's team discovered a complex cascade of events - a "metabolic switch"- that occurs when androgen receptors are blocked with enzalutamide. The drug causes levels of an enzyme called 11βHSD2 to fall, which creates a surplus of the stress hormone cortisol in the tumor cells. This extra cortisol activates its own receptor protein complex, which then takes on the role of the disabled androgen receptor and instructs cancer cells to make more androgens. more>

Study by Cleveland Clinic Researchers Explains how Brain Cancer Cells Avoid Immune System

Justin Lathia, PhD, Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, a researcher in Cleveland Clinic's Lerner Research Institute, leads the team that found that glioblastoma stem cells lose a receptor that would otherwise let them sense they're in a damaged microenvironment, according to the release. If that's sensed, tumor cells would undergo cell death or bind to immune cells and be killed by the immune system. more>

Cleveland Clinic Opens New Cancer Center

Cleveland Clinic new release - Feb 16, 2017

The new Cleveland Clinic Taussig Cancer Center will begin welcoming patients on Monday, March 6. The 377,000-square-foot facility, estimated at $276 million, will house all outpatient cancer treatment services in one location with the center's team of medical and radiation oncologists, surgeons, nurses, genetic counselors, social workers and others all working together in one shared space to improve patient outcomes. more>

Majhail Elected to Leadership Role of American Society for Blood Marrow Transplantation

Navneet Majhail, MD, MS, Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, Director of the Cleveland Clinic Blood & Marrow Transplant Program, and Staff Physician with the Department of Hematology and Oncology at the Taussig Cancer Institute, has been elected as Vice President for the American Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation. Majhail will serve as President Elect in 2018, and as President of the society in 2019.

New Demonstration Grant Will Address Tobacco Disparities

Erika Trapl, PhD, Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, Associate Director of the Prevention Research Center for Healthy Neighborhoods (PRCHN), and Associate Professor of Epidemiology & Biostatistics at the CWRU School of Medicine, received a one-year, $240,000 Tobacco Disparities Demonstration Project grant from the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) that will work to reduce rates of smoking in three targeted neighborhoods in Cleveland. more>

Crain's Names Cancer Center Members as 'Who to Watch in Healthcare'

Alex Huang, MD, PhD and Justin Lathia, PhD were recognized Crain's Cleveland Business list of who to watch in healthcare. 

Huang, co-Leader of the Hematopoietic and Immune Cancer Biology Program at the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, is also a pediatric oncologist at UH Rainbow's Angie Fowler Adolescent & Young Adult Cancer Institute and an associate professor at the CWRU School of Medicine.


Lathia is a researcher in the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner  Research Institute, and assistant professor of molecular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of CWRU. 

Shape of Prostate and Compartments Within may Serve as Cancer Indicators

madabhushiaPreliminary computerized imaging reveals the shape of the prostate and a compartment within the gland--called the transitional zone--consistently differ in men with prostate cancer than those without the disease, according to new research led by Case Western Reserve University.

"Looking at shape is a fundamental shift from looking at the intensity of pixels in an image to predict if a patient has prostate cancer," said Anant Madabhushi, PhD, Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, F. Alex Nason professor II of biomedical engineering and leader of the research. "Pixel intensities vary, but shape is resilient." more>

Can a Novel Combination of Treatments Help Eradicate HIV?

Michael M. Lederman, MD received a $2.5 million grant from California-based biopharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences to study the effectiveness of combining two HIV treatments that are usually used separately. 

Lederman, Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, Scott R. Inkley Professor of Medicine, is the lead researcher on the study, which will combine interleukin-2 (IL-2), a protein made by the body that stimulates human killer cells, with a lab-engineered monoclonal antibody that targets HIV. more>

Structure of Atypical Cancer Protein Paves Way for Drug Development

team of researchers from the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center has helped uncover the elusive structure of a cancer cell receptor protein that can be leveraged to fight disease progression. Previous studies have showed blocking the receptor can slow tumor growth and metastasis in certain cases. However, the development of drugs (inhibitors) has been slowed by an absence of structural information on this highly unstable membrane protein. Armed with the new study, drug developers can now design molecules that nestle into the receptor's binding sites to modulate its function or outcompete native ligands. more>

Non-AIDS Defining Cancers Pilot Awardees

With support from a supplement to its NCI P30 grant, the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center in coordination with the CWRU/UH Center for AIDS  Research (CFAR) is providing seed funding for the development of cancer research projects focusing on the interface between aging and HIV infection in  Non-AIDS Defining Cancers (NADC). 

Congratulations to the following pilot awardees:

David Yao, MD, PhD, Medical Oncology Fellow, Div. of Hematology and Oncology, CWRU/UH and  Michael Gibson, MD, PhD, Associate Professor, Div. of Hematology and Oncology, CWRU/UH

Tumor Microenvironment of the Head and Neck Cancer in HIV-infected Patients

Ge Jin, PhD, Associate Professor, Biological Sciences, CWRU

HIV-infected T-cell extracellular vesicles promote head neck cancer progression

Siran Koroukian, PhD, Associate Professor, Epidemiology and Biostatistics, CWRU

Evaluating the excess prevalence of non-AIDS defining cancers and multiple chronic conditions in individuals with HIV



Harrington Discovery Institute

The Harrington Discovery Institute at University Hospitals has announced recipients of the Harrington Scholar-Innovator Awards and the inaugural class of Cleveland Harrington Fellows. 

Harrington Scholar-Innovator Awards 

The Harrington Scholar-Innovator Awards support breakthrough discoveries of physician-scientists whose research shows promise to advance the standard of care.  The selected scholars have access to several rounds of capital (up to a total of $700,000) through their affiliation with the Harrington Discovery Institute to support the transition of their work into the private sector. Scholars are then free to approach investors of their choice to underwrite the commercialization of their work or they can have facilitated access to BioMotiv, the mission-aligned development company that also is part of The Harrington Project. However, there are no obligations on either side. 

11 physician-scientists received these awards nationally, and one recipient is from our Center: 

Dr. John LetterioJohn Letterio, MD 

Case Comprehensive Cancer Center; Professor, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine; Division Chief, Pediatric Hematology and Oncology, UH Cleveland Medical Center and UH Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital. Recognized for a promising drug for Alzheimer's disease, stroke and cancer. 

Harrington Fellows

The new Harrington Fellows Award recognizes promising early- to mid-career physician-scientists in the greater Cleveland medical community and provides $75,000 per year for two years to support their research efforts. Three physician-scientists were selected as Fellows: 

Derek Abbott, MD, PhD, Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, Associate Professor and Arline H. and Curtis F. Garvin Professor of Medicine and Co-Director, Medical Scientist Training Program, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. Dr. Abbott's research has combined molecular, bioinformatics and proteomic approaches to identify and pharmaceutically target novel inflammatory signaling pathways. 

Alex Huang, MD, PhD, Co-leader, Hematopoietic and Immune Cancer Biology Program, Case Comprehensive Cancer Center; Associate Professor, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine; Program Director, Pediatric Hematology and Oncology, UH Cleveland Medical Center. Dr. Huang's research is focused on understanding cancer immunology and defining the cellular and molecular immunological principles governing tumor immunity to advance the application of cancer immunotherapy. 

Nima Sharifi, MD, Co-leader, GU Malignancies Program, Case Comprehensive Cancer Center; Kendrick Family Endowed Chair for Prostate Cancer Research, Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute; Co-Director of the Prostate Cancer Research Center of Excellence, Cleveland Clinic. Dr. Sharifi's research is centered on investigating metabolic and molecular mechanisms of hormone therapy resistance in prostate cancer and the development of new treatment strategies.

Barnholtz-Sloan Appointed as Professor of Brain Tumor Research

Congratulations to Jill Barnholtz-Sloan, PhD, on her appointment as the Sally S. Morley Designated Professor of Brain Tumor Research.

Markowitz Receives Hamdan Award for Medical Research Excellence

markowitzsThe Case Comprehensive Cancer Center celebrates Dr. Sanford (Sandy) Markowitz's selection by an international jury as a 2016 recipient of a prestigious Hamdan Award for Medical Research Excellence. Dr. Markowitz journeyed to Dubai for the December 14th award ceremony and to deliver his award address. Presentation of the $27,000 award was made by H.H. Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance of the United Arab Emirates. 

Markowitz's award, for achievements in colon diseases, recognized his work in discovering two colon cancer suppressor genes, TGF-beta RII and 15-PGDH, that explain how and why patients with Lynch syndrome develop colon cancer, and also recognized his work in developing molecular tests for early detection of GI cancers.

Researchers Uncover New Role of Protein Degradation in Meiosis

A multi-university team of researchers have for the first time determined how the proteasome, the machinery that in all living cells destroys proteins after they have completed their function, controls key processes of chromosome segregation during meiosis. These findings shed new light on how protein degradation controls cellular functions and could have major implication for our understanding of how errors in chromosome stability can lead to birth defects and cancer. The findings were published online by the journal Science on Thursday, January 5 [Ahuja, JS, Science. 05 Jan 2017].

"Key events of meiosis involve the pairing and crossing over between homologous chromosomes," says Valentin Börner, Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, leader of the research team and an associate professor with Cleveland State University's  Center for Gene Regulation in Health and Disease. more>

DiFeo Co-Director of Athymic Animal & Xenograft Core Facility

Analisa DiFeo, PhD, Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, Assistant Professor, General Medical Sciences - Oncology, Case Western Reserve University, is now co-Director of the Athymic Animal & Xenograft Core Facility, along with current Director  Dan Lindner, MD, PhD,Assistant Professor, Cancer Biology, Cleveland Clinic. 
We would also like to remind people of the following price change that went into effect September 2016:
NSG (NOD/SCID/IL2Rgamma) = $50
Athymic NCR nu/nu = $40
Athymic NOD/SCID = $45
Please see the Core Facility website for more information.

DiFeo Delivers Talk about Harnessing Passion to Create Lasting Impact

Analisa DiFeo, PhD, Norma C. and Albert I. Geller Designated Professor of Ovarian Cancer Research at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and Member of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, gave an invited TED-style talk at the Healthcare Businesswomen's Association (HBA) annual conference in St. Louis last month. In her talk, Dr. DiFeo used examples from her personal and professional life to explain how one's passion can unite a multidisciplinary group of individuals toward a common goal, and the impact on community and science. She touched on why she entered the field of biomedical research, discussed her use of mouse avatars for ovarian cancer research at the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, and how her work with the Young Scientist Foundation allowed her to impact the next generation of researchers. Watch the video here. 

Cleveland Clinic Cancer Researchers Find Eligibility Criteria In Clinical Trials Overly Strict

‌New research from Cleveland Clinic finds that clinical trials routinely use excessively strict enrollment criteria, which excludes patients who could potentially benefit from new treatments and limits trial results to a narrow group. The implications are that trials are not being designed to include participants who are representative of society, and therefore, safety results may not reflect what will be seen outside of strict trial eligibility criteria, or in some instances, what are reported on product labels.

"For patients, access to advanced therapies, especially for life-threatening diseases with undefined first-line treatment, is vital," said Mikkael Sekeres, MD , Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, director of Cleveland Clinic leukemia program and co-author on the study. "However, fewer than five percent of adult cancer patients enroll in clinical trials, due in part to eligibility and screening failures." View full release

Reizes to Hold Cleveland Clinic's First Endowed Chair to Focus on Uterine Cancer

Ofer Reizes, PhD, Director of Core Services for the Lerner Research Institute and staff in the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, will hold the Cleveland Clinic's new Laura J. Fogarty Endowed Chair for Uterine Cancer Research . This is the Cleveland Clinic's first endowed chair supporting research into the causes and treatment of uterine cancer.

The chair was established by a  $1 million gift from Pepper Pike couple Laura Fogarty and her husband Bob Fogarty, a partner in the law firm of Hahn Loeser & Parks.  The couple wants to advance treatments for women with recurrent and metastatic uterine cancer and to shed light on the disease, according a release from the Clinic. more>

New Biostatistics and Bioinformatics Core Facility Director

The Case Comprehensive Cancer Center is pleased to welcome Ming Li, PhD, as the new Core Director for the Biostatistics and Bioinformatics Core Facility.  Drs. Paul Elson and Jill Barnholtz-Sloan will remain in their current co-Director roles.

Dr. Li is an Associate Professor in the department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics and a faculty biostatistician at Center for Proteomics and Bioinformatics. Dr. Li joined CWRU and Case CCC in 2014.  Prior to that, Dr. Li has worked at the Cancer Biostatistics Division at Vanderbilt University, has more than 12 years of experience in cancer related biostatistical consulting, and has been a key biostatistician for Vanderbilt Lung and GI SPORE.  With a decade working in biostatistics, Dr. Li has devoted her efforts to two major areas: (1) high dimensional data analysis, especially methods and software development for proteomics data, and (2) cancer-related collaborative research with Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center principal investigators.  Dr. Li continued and expanded her work on biostatistical research related to proteomics and cancer field upon starting her new position at CWRU two years ago. During the collaboration, she played a key role in multiple aspects, including designing experiments, analyzing data, supervising staff statisticians, interpreting results, drafting manuscripts, and writing statistical sections for grants.  Dr. Li is considered an expert in the field of proteomic analysis and has contributed to a significant paper and package on processing of such data in bioinformatics and analysis of shotgun data in the Journal of Proteome Research.  She will assume overall administrative responsibility for overseeing the operation of the BBCF and will be assisting with the renewal for the P30. 

Please see the BBCF website  for further information on the available services,  policies and an online request form (Project Request Form).

Markowitz Wins Prestigious Hamdan International Award for Medical Research Excellence

headshot of Dr. Sanford MarkowitzSanford Markowitz, MD, PhD is the winner of the Hamdan International Award for Medical Research Excellence for the topic of Colon Disorders, given by the Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid al Maktoum Award for Medical Sciences. 

According to an official announcement provided by the award, Markowitz was selected for the prestigious award for his expertise as a medical oncologist and colon cancer researcher who is internationally recognized for his discovery of two key colon cancer suppressor genes, TGF-beta RII and 15-PGDH. more>

Mark Chance, vice dean for research, named AAAS fellow

Mark R. Chance, PhD, vice dean for research at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and member of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, has been named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Election as a fellow is an honor bestowed upon AAAS members by their peers. AAAS is the world's largest general scientific society and publisher of the journal Science. more>

Case-Coulter Translational Research Partnership awards $1 million for promising university-based biomedical engineering technologies

The Case-Coulter Translational Research Partnership (CCTRP) announced more than $1 million in funding and support for the 2016 cycle. Four projects were selected for full program funding. Projects range from diagnostic and screening technologies to cancer therapeutics. Six pilot grants also were awarded for earlier-stage projects. more>

UH Seidman Cancer Center Performs New Image-Guided Prostate Biopsy

University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center physicians are among the first in the country to offer a promising new screening tool to detect prostate cancer - MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) - guided prostate biopsy. Using sophisticated MRI imaging, the technology enables physicians to better visualize and biopsy cancerous cells within the prostate.

"The in-gantry MRI-guided biopsy has the potential to revolutionize prostate cancer detection," says Vikas Gulani, MD, PhD, Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, Director of Magnetic Resonance Imaging at UH Cleveland Medical Center. "The MRI reveals the specific characteristics that distinguish between normal and diseased tissue. Visualizing the tumor's location within the prostate enables physicians to more accurately target and biopsy the lesion."

"The prostate is truly the last organ in the body that we are biopsying without hitting a visualized target," says Lee Ponsky, MD, Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, Chief of Urologic Oncology at UH Seidman Cancer Center and UH Urology Institute and Professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. more>

Computational Imaging Team Awarded US Patent for Capturing Intra-tumoral Heterogeneity on Radiographic Imaging

TiwariMadabhushi‌‌‌Case Comprehensive Cancer Center members Anant Madabhushi, F. Alex Nason Professor II of Biomedical Engineering, and Pallavi Tiwari, Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering, and Prateek Prasnna, graduate student of biomedical engineering, were jointly awarded US patent  9,483,822 for their invention, Co-Occurence of Local Anisotropic Gradient Orientations.

The technology  is associated with distinguishing disease phenotypes using co-occurrence of local anisotropic gradient orientations (CoLIAGe). One example apparatus includes a set of logics that acquires a radiologic image (e.g., MRI image) of a region of tissue demonstrating disease pathology (e.g., cancer), computes a gradient orientation for a pixel in the MRI image, computes a significant orientation for the pixel based on the gradient orientation, constructs a feature vector that captures a discretized entropy distribution for the image based on the significant orientation, and classifies the phenotype of the disease pathology based on the feature vector. Embodiments of example apparatus may generate and display a heatmap of entropy values for the image.

Scientists Develop Computer Models to Predict Cancer Cell Network Activity

A multi-institution academic-industrial partnership of researchers led by the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center has developed a new method to broadly assess cell communication networks and identify disease-specific network anomalies. The computer-based method, called InFlo, was developed in collaboration with researchers at Philips and Princeton University and predicts how cells send signals across networks to cause cancer or other disease.

"Cellular signaling networks are the mechanisms that cells use to transfer, process, and respond to biological information derived from their immediate surroundings," said Vinay Varadan, PhD, assistant professor of General Medical Sciences-Oncology at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, member of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, and senior corresponding author on the study. "InFlo can be viewed as modeling the flow of information within these signaling networks." more>

Duli Recognized with Staff Development Award

duliaAnne Duli is the recipient of the 2015-2016 Joan Harris Staff Development Award. Duli was a 28-year employee of CWRU, and served as  Associate Director for Research Administration and Finance for the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center from 2006 until she retired in June 2016.

The CWRU School of Medicine annually awards this honor to a non-faculty employee who demonstrates excellence in job performance, significant achievements in leadership, a humanistic approach to work and exemplary service to the school.

A reception was held in Duli's honor on Friday, October 28, where she was presented with the award by Dean Pamela Davis.

Case CCC researchers awarded R01 grant from National Institutes of Health

The National Institutes of Health National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NIH NHLBI) has awarded a $2.4 million grant over four years to Cleveland Clinic cancer researchers Jaroslaw Maciejewski, MD and Richard Padgett, PhD to test the hypothesis that alterations in the pattern of splicing of target genes play a major role in the establishment or progression of myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS).

Through this work, the researchers aim to further clarify the role of spliceosomal factor mutations and deletions, commonly identified in myeloid malignancies, in the pathogenesis of these diseases through the identification of their effects on mRNA splicing in vivo and in vitro. more>

Jain elected to National Academy of Medicine

Mukesh Jain MDMukesh Jain, MD, Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, Chief Scientific Officer, University Hospitals Harrington Discovery Institute, was elected to the National Academy of Medicine this week.

Election to the Academy is considered one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine and recognizes individuals who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievement and commitment to service.

Case Comprehensive Cancer Center Researchers Receive Funding for Promising Childhood Cancer Research

Two Case Comprehensive Cancer Center researchers are receiving new funding from California-based St. Baldrick's Foundation for promising childhood cancer research.

Reshmi Parameswaran, PhD, Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, assistant professor of hematology and oncology, was awarded $330,000, and Nora L. Nock, PhD, Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, associate professor of epidemiology and biostatistics, has received a $50,000 grant. [more]

Sloan Receives Neuro-Oncology Award

Helio/HemOnc Today - Oct 7, 2016

Andrew Sloan, MD, Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, director of the Brain Tumor and Neuro-Oncology Center at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center,received the Neuro-Oncology Award at the Annual Meeting of the Congress of Neurological Surgery. The award recognizes Sloan's work related to immune-gene therapy of gliomas.

Computer program beats physicians at brain cancer diagnoses

Computer programs have defeated humans in Jeopardy!, chess and Go. Now a program developed at Case Western Reserve University has outperformed physicians on a more serious matter. The program was nearly twice as accurate as two neuroradiologists in determining whether abnormal tissue seen on magnetic resonance images (MRI) were dead brain cells caused by radiation, called radiation necrosis, or if brain cancer had returned.

madabhushia"One of the biggest challenges with the evaluation of brain tumor treatment is distinguishing between the confounding effects of radiation and cancer recurrence," said Pallavi Tiwari, Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, assistant professor of biomedical engineering at Case Western Reserve and leader of the study.

More specifically, while the physicians use the intensity of pixels on MRI scans as a guide, the computer looks at the edges of each pixel, explained Anant MadabhushiCase Comprehensive Cancer Center, F. Alex Nason professor II of biomedical engineering at Case Western Reserve, and study co-author. more>

Scientists discover distant DNA working together to affect disease risk

A person's DNA sequence can provide a lot of information about how genes are turned on and off, but new research out of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine suggests the 3-D structure DNA forms as it crams into cells may provide an additional layer of gene control.

Peter Scacheri, PhD, Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, Associate Professor of Genetics and Genome Sciences at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine has been studying how specific regions of DNA physically interact with disease genes. His most recent study, published in Nature Genetics (Corradin O. Nat Genet 2016), discovered regions of DNA he termed "outside variants" that physically interact with high-risk mutations in a person's DNA sequence called single nucleotide polymorphisms, or SNPs. more>


Scientists discover how cells put the brakes on protein production

A new scientific study conducted by a team of leading geneticists has characterized how cells know when to stop translating DNA into proteins, a critical step in maintaining healthy protein levels and cell function. In the study published in Cell (Radhakrishnan A. Cell 2016), researchers studied short pieces of genetic material called messenger RNA, or mRNA, that serve as a go-between a person's DNA and the proteins it encodes.

Jeff Coller, PhD, Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, director of the Center for RNA Molecular Biology at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine helped lead the study that discovered an enzyme called "DEAD-box protein Dhh1p" assesses mRNA molecules and determines if they are needed, or need to be removed. more>

Study on minimally invasive laser & 'mini' craniotomy for 'inoperable' brain tumors

A new paper in the October issue of the journal Neurosurgical Focus (Wright J, et al. Neurosurg Focus. 2016 Oct) finds the use of laser beneficial for the removal of large, "inoperable" glioblastoma (GBM) and other types of brain tumors. The paper is authored by Andrew Sloan, MD, and colleagues from University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and Case Comprehensive Cancer Center ( view video abstract). more>

Testosterone-Related Genetic Mutation Leads to Deadlier Outcomes In Prostate Cancer

sharifin‌A team of Cleveland Clinic-Mayo Clinic researchers has shown for the first time that patients with advanced prostate cancer are more likely to die earlier from their disease if they carry a specific testosterone-related genetic abnormality.

The team, led by Cleveland Clinic's Nima Sharifi, MD, Co-leader, GU Malignancies Program at the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, studied three groups of men at Cleveland Clinic and Mayo Clinic who were treated with androgen deprivation therapy (ADT, also known as "medical castration"), the standard of care for treatment of metastatic prostate cancer. [more]

Karn awarded Drexel Prize in Translational Medicine

Jonathan Karn, PhD, Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, Reinberger Professor of Molecular Biology and chairman of the Department of Molecular Biology and Microbiology at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, and director of the Case Center for AIDS Research, has been awarded the 2016 Drexel Prize in Translational Medicine by the Institute for Molecular Medicine and Infectious Disease at Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia. [more]

Biomedical engineering's Anant Madabhushi, team awarded three new patents in digital pathology, precision medicine

madabhushiaAnant Madabhushi, the F. Alex Nason professor II of biomedical engineering and director of the Center for Computational Imaging and Personalized Diagnostics (CCIPD), and his team were issued three patents in digital pathology and precision medicine[more]

Researchers find gene mutations lead to more aggressive colon cancer in African-Americans

Case Comprehensive Cancer Center researchers, who last year identified new gene mutations unique to colon cancers in African Americans, have found that tumors with these mutations are highly aggressive and more likely to recur and metastasize. These findings partly may explain why African-Americans have the highest incidence and death rates of any group for this disease.

These findings and the earlier study only became possible because of technological advances in gene sequencing and computational analysis. These studies ultimately involved review of 1.5 billion bits of data. "This study builds on our previous genetic research on colorectal cancer," said Sanford Markowitz, MD, PhD, a co-author and principal investigator of the $11.3 million federal gastrointestinal cancers research program (GI SPORE) that includes this project. "It illustrates the extraordinary impact that dedicated, collaborative teams can make when they combine scientific experience and ingenuity with significant investment." [more]

Researchers Restore Drug Sensitivity in Breast Cancer Tumors

Ahmed Khalil PhDA team of Case Comprehensive Cancer Center researchers has uncovered one way certain tumors resist vital medication.

In the study published in Oncotarget (Merry CR. Oncotarget. 2016 Jul 16), the researchers studied tumor biopsies collected from breast cancer patients before and after treatment with the go-to breast cancer drug trastuzumab (also known as Herceptin). Some of the tumors were treatable with trastuzumab, and others were not.

Ahmad Khalil, PhD, Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, Assistant Professor of Genetics at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, led the study and explained, "Our hypothesis was that there are gene expression differences of both mRNAs and lincRNAs between tumors from patients that respond to trastuzumab and tumors from patients that do not." [more]

Distelhorst recipient of ASH bridge grant

headshot of Dr. Clark DistelhorstClark Distelhorst, MD, Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, Professor of Hematology and Oncology at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, is one of nine investigators to receive bridge funding from the American Society of Hematology (ASH). The $150,000 grants will fund research proposals that, despite earning high scores, could not be funded by NIH due to limited funding.

The Lancet Oncology: Immediate aggressive treatment may not be necessary for all adults with advanced kidney cancer

The Lancet Oncology (via EurekAlert)- Aug 3, 2016

Headshot of Dr. Brian Rini‌Some adults with advanced kidney cancer (renal-cell carcinoma) who have slow-growing disease can live for months and even years without the disease getting worse with active surveillance, or close monitoring for evidence of disease progression, instead of having to undergo immediate treatment with highly toxic anticancer drugs, suggests new research published online in The Lancet Oncology. (Rini BI et al. Lancet Oncol. online 2016 Aug 3)

"There is a perception that all cancers should be treated immediately because they are equally lethal. But what we've seen in this small phase 2 study is that a subset of adults with advanced kidney cancer have slow-growing disease that can be safely managed using active surveillance, which could spare them the inconvenience and debilitating side effects of aggressive treatments for about a year, and in some cases several years, without worsening anxiety and depression", explains lead author Professor Brian Rini from Cleveland Clinic Taussig Cancer Institute and co-leader of the GU Malignancies Program, Case Comprehensive Cancer Center. [more]

Study shows poor skin cancer survival in patients with skin of color

According to a study published online in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology (Dawes SM, et al. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2016) on July 28, although melanoma incidence is higher in Caucasians, patients with skin of color are less likely to survive the disease.

"Everyone is at risk for skin cancer, regardless of race," says board-certified dermatologist Jeremy S. Bordeaux, MD, MPH, FAAD, one of the study authors, Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, department of dermatology, University Hospitals Case Medical Center. "Patients with skin of color may believe they aren't at risk, but that is not the case - and when they do get skin cancer, it may be especially deadly." [more]

Mice Survive Brain Cancer Tumors Lacking Key Surface Proteins

new scientific study has characterized a checkpoint protein that allows certain brain tumor cells to avoid the immune system. Tumors regularly avoid detection by decorating themselves with proteins that mimic those found on healthy cells. This protective shield allows them to grow undetected, often with deadly results. Brain tumors contribute to approximately 17,000 deaths annually with over 4,600 children newly diagnosed each year, according to the American Brain Tumor Association.

The researchers investigated Cdk5 because it is "commonly expressed in abundance and high Cdk5 levels correlate with a worse clinical prognosis in patients with melanoma, brain, breast, and lung cancers," explained Alex Huang, MD, PhD, Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, associate professor of pediatrics, pathology, and biomedical engineering at the School of Medicine, and co-senior author of the study. Agnes Petrosiute, MD, Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, assistant professor of pediatrics at the School of Medicine, was the other senior author. Both are also pediatric oncologists at the Angie Fowler Adolescent & Young Adult Cancer Institute at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital, Case Comprehensive Cancer Center. [more]

Researchers discover gene variant associated with esophageal cancer

Researchers at University Hospitals Case Medical Center have discovered that a rare genetic mutation is associated with susceptibility to familial Barrett esophagus (FBE) and esophageal cancer, according to a new study published in the July issue of JAMA Oncology ( Fecteau RE. JAMA Oncology, 2016)

The team, led by Amitabh Chak, MD, along with collaborating senior author Kishore Guda, DVM, PhD, also of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, used targeted next generation gene sequencing to find a rare mutation (S631G) in FBE in the uncharacterized gene VSIG10L that segregated with disease in affected family members. [more]

Case Western Reserve University Researchers Block Common Type of Colon Cancer Tumor in Mice

Dr. Zhenghe John WangNature Communications(Hao Y, et al. Nat Commun. 2016 Jun 20), researchers from the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine identified why colorectal cancer cells depend on the non-essential amino acid glutamine. This understanding led them to discover the possibility of tumor suppression by "starving" tumor cells. The team's findings lay groundwork for human clinical trial planned for August 2016.

headshot of Dr. Neal MeropolLed by Zhenghe John Wang, PhD, co-leader of the GI Cancer Genetics Program at the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center and professor of genetics and genome sciences at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, researchers studied a subset of colorectal cancer cells containing a genetic mutation called IK3CA.

"This study provides the basis for a colon cancer treatment clinical trial that will be started in the summer at the University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center," according to Neal Meropol, MD, Associate Director for Clinical Research at the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, Dr. Lester E. Coleman, Jr. Professor of Cancer Research and Therapeutics, chief of the division of hematology and oncology, and principal investigator for the trial. [more]

Researchers developing quick, inexpensive test to assess ER+ breast cancers

‌‌Researchers from Case Western Reserve University are teaming with industry and other academics to develop a quick and inexpensive test to predict which women with ER+ breast cancer need chemotherapy and which need only the more tolerable hormonal therapy.

The National Cancer Institute has awarded the group a $3.3 million, five-year grant to produce software that recognizes minute features in pathology images to distinguish between the two groups and develop an image based risk score.

madabhushia"With this technology, any woman with suspected breast cancer will have a biopsy, the slides of which can be digitized and analyzed for pennies on the dollar," said Anant Madabhushi, who also directs Case Western Reserve's Center for Computational Imaging and Personalized Diagnostics and a member of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, and leader of the research.

In addition to this grant, Madabhushi's lab with Dr. Vinay Varadan, Assistant Professor of General Medical Sciences (Oncology) at CWRU and member of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, has been awarded a $115,000 grant from Philips Electronics to integrate magnetic resonance images taken before and during treatment, and digital pathology images of Her2+ breast cancers to develop what they hope will be a stronger predictor of outcome Inspirata will also be involved on this project. [more]

Simple questions predict decline after breast cancer treatment

‌Within one year of starting treatment, many older women with early stage breast cancer lose the ability to complete some tasks of daily living, and a 13-item survey can help predict who they will be, researchers say.

The study of U.S. breast cancer patients found one in five women lost functional abilities necessary to living independently in the community and at home, said lead author Dr. Cynthia Owusu of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center and Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. [more]

Drug Candidate Shrinks Tumor when Delivered by Plant Virus Nanoparticle

In a pair of firsts, researchers at Case Western Reserve University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology have shown that the drug candidate phenanthriplatin can be more effective than an approved drug in vivo, and that a plant-virus-based carrier successfully delivers a drug in vivo.

"We may have found the perfect carrier for this particular drug candidate," said Nicole Steinmetz, Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering at Case Western Reserve, who has spent 10 years studying the use of plant viruses for medical purposes. [more]

DiFeo Receives NCCN Funding for Pre-Clinical Studies of Mirvetuximab Soravtansine

Analisa DiFeo, PhD is one of eight investigators to receive funding from the National Comprehensive Cancer Network® (NCCN®) Oncology Research Program (ORP) to support clinical and pre-clinical studies of mirvetuximab soravtansine (IMGN853) and advance scientific knowledge of its uses in ovarian and other folate receptor alpha (FRα)-positive cancers. 

DiFeo, a member of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center and Assistant Professor in the Division of General Medical Sciences-Oncology at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, will study "Identifying Susceptibilities and Candidate Pharmacodynamic Biomarkers for Mirvetuximab Soravtansine in High-Grade Ovarian and Endometrial Cancer". [more]

Trapl Wins OPHA Public Health Policy Award

Erika Trapl, PhD, Associate Director of the Prevention Research Center for Healthy Neighborhoods (PRCHN) and member of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, was recognized with the Ohio Public Health Association (OPHA) Public Health Policy Award for her work with tobacco prevention and cessation in Cleveland. [more]

Cleveland Clinic Researcher Discovers Altering Metabolite of Prostate Cancer Drug More Effective at Treating Aggressive Tumors

Dr. Nima SharifiFor the first time, Cleveland Clinic researchers have fine-tuned an FDA-approved antisteroidal prostate cancer drug to alter its drug metabolism and achieve better anti-tumor activity, according to research published May 26 in Nature.

Cleveland Clinic researcher Nima Sharifi, MD, discovered a new strategy for fine-tuning how the body processes abiraterone to optimize therapy for men with metastatic, treatment-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC).

Cancer Center Researchers Developing GPS for Rectal Cancer Surgery

Researchers estimate that up to 10,000 rectal cancer patients undergo unnecessary surgery, and more than 25,000 suffer from pelvic sepsis, wound infection and permanent impairments from aggressive surgery in the United States annually.

That's because it's difficult to reliably tell which patients treated with chemotherapy and radiation still need surgery. Another challenge is surgeons lack strong guidance on just how much tissue beyond the cancerous tumor they should remove.

A researcher at Case Western Reserve University aims to provide answers to both uncertainties by analyzing features found in magnetic resonance images regularly taken before surgery and pathological specimens removed during surgery.
"Because we have access to the images and the pathology, we can create accurate maps of residual disease," said Satish Viswanath, Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, research assistant professor in biomedical engineering and member of the Center for Computational Imaging and Personalized Diagnostics (CCIPD) at Case Western Reserve. "These analytics can be used as a guide for the surgical margins-a GPS for surgeons." [more]

New PSA Test Examines Protein Structures to Detect Prostate Cancers

promising new test is detecting prostate cancer more precisely than current tests, by identifying molecular changes in the prostate specific antigen (PSA) protein, according to Cleveland Clinic research presented today at the American Urological Association annual meeting.

"While the PSA test has undoubtedly been one of the most successful biomarkers in history, its limitations are well known. Even currently available prostate cancer diagnostic tests rely on biomarkers that can be affected by physiological factors unrelated to cancer," said Eric Klein, MD, chair of Cleveland Clinic's Glickman Urological & Kidney Institute, Case Comprehensive Cancer Center. "These study results show that using structural changes in PSA protein to detect cancer is more effective and can help prevent unneeded biopsies in low-risk patients." [more]

Does Your Pregnancy Make Melanoma More Dangerous?

You likely know that melanoma is a more serious form of skin cancer, but researchers were recently surprised to discover that the disease is even more of a threat if you are pregnant or recently had a baby.

In a recent study (Gastman B JAAD 2016 Apr), Cleveland Clinic researchers led by Brian D. Gastman, MD, also a member of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, found that women under the age of 50 who had a diagnosis of malignant melanoma during or soon after pregnancy were significantly more likely to have tumors spread to other organs and tissues, and were more likely to have the cancer come back after treatment. [more]

Pennell Receives Award for Blog Post

‌Nathan Pennell, MD, PhD, Case Comprehensive Cancer Center member and medical oncologist at the Cleveland Clinic Taussig Cancer Institute, received the 2016 EXCEL Award from Association Media & Publishing (AMP) for his ASCO Connection blog post "Fourth Time's the Charm." [more]

Alex Huang Named Co-Leader of Case CCC Hematopoietic and Immune Cancer Biology Program; Invited to Join National "Moonshot" Advisory Group

Alex Huang, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, CWRU School of Medicine and pediatric oncologist at the Angie Fowler Adolescent & Young Adult Cancer Institute at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital, has been named co-Leader of the Hematopoietic and Immune Cancer Biology Program of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center. Dr. Huang joins Program Co-Leaders Jaroslaw Maciejewski, MD, PhD and Marcos de Lima, MD in leading that program. 

Dr. Huang has also been named to a select working group advising the National Cancer Institute (NCI) on President Obama's "moonshot" initiative to cure cancer. The "moonshot" initiative aims to speed current cancer research efforts and break down barriers to progress, making more therapies available to more patients, while also improving cancer prevention and early detection. [more]

Study Reveals Insights into Genetic Basis of Tumor Cellular Response to DNA Damage

In a recent "Nature Communications" publication, A genetic basis for the variation in the vulnerability of cancer to DNA damage ( Yard, B.D. et al. Nat. Commun. 2016 Apr 25), researchers looked at analyzing the genetic code of a tumor to identify patients that are more or less likely to respond to a particular treatment. 

"Our team's research helps explain across 26 cancer types why individual tumors vary in their susceptibility to DNA-damaging radiation and drugs," said co-author Mohamed Abazeed, MD, PhD, Cleveland Clinic Department of Radiation Oncology and Assistant Professor at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University. "The findings suggest that the promising tactics of personalized, genetically targeted cancer therapies can be extended to radiation therapy, and that we can develop predictive tools to guide clinical decision-making and patient selection." 

The team found grouping patients for treatment based on population studies, such as patients with early stage breast cancer, does not reflect the uniqueness of individual patients. They are actively working on developing certified genetic tests that are designed to be incorporated into clinical practice and assist the oncologist in identifying patients that are more or less likely to respond to a particular treatment.

Co-authors on this publication include Case Comprehensive Cancer Center members Drew Adams, PhD of the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and Nathan Pennell, MD, PhD of the Cleveland Clinic.

UH Seidman Cancer Center First in the World to Apply SBRT

University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center physicians have started the world's first clinical trial using a new form of stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT) to deliver radiation to a specific area of the prostate invaded with cancer - instead of the entire gland. The study aims to determine if treating a targeted cancer region within the prostate in early stage prostate cancer can increase treatment options and reduce the side effects of radiation.

The trial's first patient was enrolled and underwent therapy earlier this month without any side effects reported to date. The procedure was performed jointly by his urologist, Lee Ponsky, MD, of the UH Urology Institute and a study co-investigator, and his radiation oncologist Rodney Ellis, MD, both members of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center. [more]

Abbott and Narla Inducted into Prestigious Medical Honor Society

Two Case Comprehensive Cancer Center members, Derek Abbott, MD, PhD, and Goutham Narla, MD, PhD, have been inducted into the American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI), one of the nation's oldest and most prestigious medical honor societies for physician-scientists. ASCI emphasizes translating findings in the laboratory to the advancement of clinical practice. Election to the Society reflects a major early-to-mid-career achievement since new members must be 50 years of age or younger. [more]

Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine Opens the Way to New Treatments for Chronic Pain and Cancer

In a recent paper published in Nature Communications [Huynh KW Nat Commun. 2016 Mar 29;7:11130], a group of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine researchers present their discovery of the full-length structure of a protein named Transient Receptor Potential Vanilloid subtype 2 (TRPV2). Taken in addition to their study of its molecular mechanism last year, published in the December issue of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Dr. Vera Moiseenkova-Bell's laboratory has revealed TRPV2 as a new target for pharmaceutical research treating chronic pain and cancer.

"By combining our findings regarding both this protein's structure and molecular mechanism, we can investigate it with a more holistic understanding," says Principal Investigator Vera Moiseenkova-Bell, PhD, an assistant professor in the department of pharmacology at the School of Medicine. "This positions us to develop pharmaceutical compounds that target TRPV2 as treatment for chronic pain." [more]

Three Glycosyltransferases Identified as Significant Mutational Targets in Colon Cancer

Kishore Guda, PhD ‌Little is known about the molecular basis of aberrant protein glycosylation, a complex enzymatic process that is a hallmark of many human cancers including colorectal cancers (CRC), and how it may contribute to tumor progression. In a new study published in Scientific Reports, an online journal of the Nature Publishing Group (Venkitachalam. Sci Rep. 2016 Mar 23), scientists at Case Comprehensive Cancer Center and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine have successfully characterized the mutational landscapes of glycosylation-associated genes in colon cancer, identifying three glycosyltransferases as significant mutational targets in CRC.

Kishore Guda, DVM, PhD, Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, assistant professor of general medical sciences (oncology) at the School of Medicine, led this critical research, involving the targeted re-sequencing of 430 glycosylation-associated genes and matched primary tumor tissues. Through this process, Guda and his team identified three glycosyltransferases (B3GNT2, B4GALT2, ST6GALNAC2) as significant mutational targets in CRCs. [more]

Video Series Educates Families on Brain Tumors

Jill Barnholtz-Sloan PhDIn the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation's new Family Support Learning Series videos, leading brain tumor experts, including Dr. Jill Barnholtz-Sloan of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, discuss topics such as clinical trials, genetic susceptibility and molecular testing.

The series includes more than two dozen brief videos with user-friendly, relevant information for families and friends of young brain tumor patients to help families better advocate for their child during treatment and beyond. [more]

New Sensor 1 Million Times More Sensitive than Current Methods Developed to Help Detect Cancers Earlier

Physicists and engineers at Case Western Reserve University have developed an optical sensor, based on nanostructured metamaterials, that's 1 million times more sensitive than the current best available-one capable of identifying a single lightweight molecule in a highly dilute solution. Their research is published online in the journal Nature Materials.

Their goal: to provide oncologists a way to detect a single molecule of an enzyme produced by circulating cancer cells. Such detection could allow doctors to diagnose patients with certain cancers far earlier than possible today, monitor treatment and resistance and more.

"The prognosis of many cancers depends on the stage of the cancer at diagnosis" said Giuseppe "Pino" Strangi, Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, professor of physics at Case Western Reserve and leader of the research.

Strangi and Nima Sharifi, MD, co-leader of the Genitourinary Cancer Program for the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, have begun testing the sensor with proteins related to prostate cancers. [more]

CWRU Researcher to Turn Plant Virus Shells Against Human Cancers

A Case Western Reserve University researcher has been awarded more than $3 million in federal and foundation grants to turn common plant viruses into cancer sleuths and search-and-destroy emissaries.

Nicole Steinmetz, PhD, Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering, will customize tobacco mosaic virus to distinguish between indolent and aggressive prostate cancers, and potato virus X to deliver a pair of treatments inside triple-negative breast cancer tumors. The National Institutes of Health's National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NBIB) and National Cancer Institute (NCI), and the American Cancer Society are providing the funding. [more]

Anant Madabhushi Team Awarded Patent on Digital Pathology Based Image Predictor of Disease Outcome

headshot of Dr. Anant MadabhushiAnant Madabhushi, PhD, Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, professor of biomedical engineering and director of the Center for Computational Imaging and Personalized Diagnostics, was recently awarded U.S. patent: 9,286,672, titled "Integrated, multivariate histologic image-based method for disease outcome prediction."

U.S. patent 9,286,672 relates to a system and method for predicting disease outcome using a multi-field-of-view approach based on image-features from multi-parametric heterogeneous images.

One example of the application of this technology is in capturing image patterns with standard H&E and vascular stained breast cancer images and combining the patterns from both sets of images to predict disease outcome in estrogen receptor-positive breast cancers.

The technology has been licensed by the cancer diagnostics company Inspirata Inc. based in Tampa, Florida. Co-inventor on this technology Dr. Ajay Basavanhally is a research scientist at Inspirata. Dr. Madabhushi is working with the Inspirata team to translate this technology for use in the clinic for predicting appropriate therapy for breast cancer patients.

Clinical Review Explores Role of RT in BRCA1, BRCA2 Mutation Breast Cancer Treatment

In light of conflicting and inconclusive clinical data on the benefit of radiation therapy in cancer patients with the BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation, a clinical review examined the current status of data regarding BRCA1 and BRCA2 deficiency and radiation therapy sensitivity and a potential strategy to intensify the effects of radiation therapy (RT) by poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase inhibitors (PARPi), the pharmacologic drugs under investigation as monotherapy for the treatment of breast cancer in patients with BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations.

Authors Junran Zhang, MD, PhD, and Charlene Kan, MD, PhD, Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, Department of Radiation Oncology, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, and University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center, found mixed results from clinical and laboratory research into the sensitivity of cancer cells with the BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation in their clinical review, "BCRA1 Mutation: A Predictive Marker for Radiation Therapy?" 

Eng Addresses Gender Bias in Science and Medicine

Dr. Charis EngCase Comprehensive Cancer Center, Hardis/ACS Professor and Chair, Cleveland Clinic Genomic Medicine Institute and Professor and Vice Chair, Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) Department of Genetics and Genome Sciences, was an invited panelist at the Healthcare Businesswomen's Association (HBA) event entitled "Gender Bias in Science and Medicine: Understanding the Present to Change the Future". The panel discussion, comprised of local science and healthcare industry leaders, addressed identifying gender bias in today's workplace and strategies of how to change it in the future. HBA partnered with the Cleveland Clinic Women's Professional Staff Association, CWRU, MetroHealth System, Biomotiv, and the Natural History Museum for this event. [more]

Malignant Brain Tumors Most Common Cause of Cancer Deaths in Adolescents and Young Adults

‌A new report published in the journal Neuro-Oncology and funded by the American Brain Tumor Association (ABTA)finds that malignant brain tumors are the most common cause of cancer-related deaths in adolescents and young adults aged 15-39 and the most common cancer occurring among 15-19 year olds.

"What's interesting is the wide variability in the types of brain tumors diagnosed within this age group which paints a much different picture than what we see in adults or in pediatric patients," explained the study's senior author Jill Barnholtz-Sloan, PhD, associate professor, Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and Scientific Principal Investigator for CBTRUS. [more]

New Image Analytics May Offer Quick Guidance for Breast Cancer Treatment

For women with the most common type of breast cancer, a new way to analyze magnetic resonance images (MRI) data appears to reliably distinguish between patients who would need only hormonal treatment and those who also need chemotherapy, researchers from Case Western Reserve University report.


The analysis may provide women diagnosed with estrogen positive-receptor (ER-positive) breast cancer answers far faster than current tests and, due to its expected low cost, open the door to this kind of testing worldwide.


"In the United States, nearly 70 percent of all breast cancer patients are diagnosed with ER-positive, but the majority don't need chemotherapy," said Anant Madabhushi, professor, biomedical engineering professor, Case Western Reserve University, Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, and research leader. [more]

Owusu and Xu Named "Up-and-Comers" by Crain's Cleveland Business

Two Case Comprehensive Cancer Center members, Cynthia Owusu, MD, medical oncologist, UH Seidman Cancer Center, and Rong XuPhD, assistant professor of epidemiology and biostatistics, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, were named Who to Watch in Healthcare by Crain's Cleveland Business. The feature highlighted up-and-comers and innovators in Northeast Ohio's medical field.

Khalil Research on DNA Methylation in Colon Cancer Highlighted by The Scientist

A paper written by Ahmad Khalil, PhD was highlighted by The Scientist as Editor's Choice in Genetics and Genomics [Merry CM et al. Hum Mol Genet. 24:6240-53, 2015]:   

DNA methylation is a critical regulator of gene activity. In cancer cells, faulty methylation patterns contribute to the excessive growth and dysfunction characteristic of tumors. While increased methylation often occurs at sites of tumor suppressor genes-turning off their activity-reduced methylation is widespread throughout other parts of the genome, freeing up many sections of DNA to be improperly expressed.

"No one understands what's driving the hypomethylation" in cancer cells, says Ahmad Khalil, a geneticist at Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, Case Western Reserve University in Ohio. "The initial hypothesis was that maybe the enzymes regulating histone modification or DNA methylation are mutated, or their expression is deregulated." But many studies have found that mutations in these enzymes are rare, and their genes' expression isn't altered.

To determine how cancer cells undergo these massive changes in methylation, Khalil turned to long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs). In a previous study, when Khalil's group removed lncRNAs found in complexes with histone-modifying enzymes, genes that were normally repressed became upregulated. "I proposed the hypothesis that maybe the deregulation is of the lncRNAs, not [of] the enzymes that create these modifications," he says. 

Co-authors on the paper include Callie R. Merry, Megan E. Forrest, Jessica N. Sabers, Lydia Beard, Xing-Huang Gao, Maria Hatzoglou, Mark W. Jackson, Zhenghe Wang, Sanford D. Markowitz, all from Case Western Reserve University. more> 

New Precision Medicine Guidelines Aimed at Improving Personalized Cancer Treatment Plans

A committee of national experts, led by a Cleveland Clinic researcher, has established first-of-its-kind guidelinesto promote more accurate and individualized cancer predictions, guiding more precise treatment and leading to improved patient survival rates and outcomes. Led by Michael Kattan, PhD, MBA, chair of Cleveland Clinic's Department of Quantitative Health Sciences at Cleveland Clinic's Lerner Research Institute, the group discussed characteristics necessary for developing a quality risk model in cancer patients. [more]

Madabhushi Team Awarded Patent on Identifying Vulnerable Plaque from Perfusion MRI

Dr. Anant Madabhushi, Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Director of the Center for Computational Imaging and Personalized Diagnostics, and member of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, has been awarded U.S. patent 9,235,887, titled "Classification of Biological Tissue by Multi-mode data registration, segmentation, and characterization." Co-inventors include Andrew Buckler, James Hamilton, Shannon Agner, and Mark Rosen. The invention has been licensed to Elucid Bioimaging Inc., a Boston based medical imaging startup company.

New Study on Effects of Vision Loss in Childhood Cancer Survivors; Findings Could Help Guide Clinical Decision Making

Peter de Blank, MD, of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and UH Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital and member of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center in Cleveland, and his colleagues report on the results from the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study investigating the long-term effects of blindness in children with brain tumors. The study included 1233 survivors of childhood brain tumors, 22.5 percent of whom had visual impairment. Vision loss in childhood did not affect psychological outcomes when patients reached adulthood, but blindness in both eyes was associated with an increased risk of being unmarried, living with a caregiver, and being unemployed. More limited vision loss--such as in a single eye--was not clearly associated with negative outcomes. [more

Dual Therapeutics Announces Oncology Strategic Collaboration with Bristol-Myers Squibb

Dual Therapeutics, LLC recently announced a strategic collaboration with Bristol-Myers Squibb to advance small molecule compounds for the treatment of cancer and other diseases. Dual Therapeutics is based on the work of investigators at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and Case Western Reserve University, including Case Comprehensive Cancer Center member Goutham Narla, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor, Institute for Transformative Molecular Medicine, Harrington Distinguished Scholar (Early Career), Pardee-Gerstacker Professor in Cancer Research, Case Western Reserve University and University Hospitals Case Medical Center, Michael Ohlmeyer, PhD, Associate Professor of Structural and Chemical Biology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and Matthew Galsky, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

October 2015 CTSC Core Utilization Pilot Award Recipients

Congratulations to the October 2015 CTSC Core Utilization Pilot Awardees:

Jennifer Dorth, MD, Assistant Professor, Radiation Oncology at CWRU/UH for her project "Murine Model of the Pathophysiology of Radiation-Induced Vascular Injury"
Leland Metheny, MD,  Instructor, Hematology and Oncology, CWRU/UH, for his project  "The Relation between Obesity, Cytokines, Disease Status and Outcomes in Patients Undergoing Autologous HCT for Myeloma."

Gerson and Meropol Part of ideastream Segments on Cancer in Cleveland

‌‌Ideastream is running special programming in January 2016 on "Cancer in Cleveland" as part of their Be Well series. The programs will include interviews with cancer experts, including Dr. Stan Gerson, Director of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center and UH Seidman Cancer Center, and Dr. Neal Meropol, Chief of the Division of Hematology and Oncology at University Hospitals Case Medical Center and Case Western Reserve University and Associate Director for Clinical Research at the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Tune in to WVIZ/PBS at 7:30p to view the programs: 

  • January 4 - Be Well: Coping with Cancer (Meropol interview)
  • January 11 - Be Well: Cancer Research & Treatment (Gerson interview) 
  • January 18 - Be Well: African Americans & Cancer

Educating Patients Improves Knowledge and Attitudes about Participating in Research

five-center national study led by Neal J. Meropol, MD, Associate Director for Clinical Research at the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, and a team of researchers from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and University Hospitals Case Medical Center demonstrated that a little information goes a long way in encouraging cancer patients to enroll in clinical trials, a decision that could be potentially lifesaving. [more]

BME Team Shows Computational Imaging can Predict Survival in Brain Tumors

A team from the CWRU Department of Biomedical Engineering (BME), including Cancer Center members Drs. Anant Madabhushi and Pallavi Tiwari has developed an MRI-based texture analysis technique to predict survival in patients with Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), a highly aggressive brain tumor.

The work was recently presented at the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) meeting held at Chicago where the team demonstrated on N=62 patients that computer-extracted texture features from peritumoral regions as defined on MRI were prognostic of long-term and short-term GBM survivors. Interesting, features (including volume) from enhancing tumor alone were not found to be predictive of survival.  Currently all GBM patients are given "one-dose-fit-all" treatment in the absence of reliable measures to allow for stratification of patients into specific clinical trials. The ability to reliably and non-invasively stratify patients based on their prognosis will allow for ultimately designing personalized therapeutic decisions in GBM patients. 


Simple Shell of Plant Virus Sparks Immune Response Against Cancer

The shells of a common plant virus, inhaled into a lung tumor or injected into ovarian, colon or breast tumors, not only triggered the immune system in mice to wipe out the tumors, but provided systemic protection against metastases, researchers from Case Western Reserve University and Dartmouth College report. The scientists tested a 100-year-old idea called in-situ vaccination. The idea is to put something inside a tumor and disrupt the environment that suppresses the immune system, thus allowing the natural defense system to attack the malignancy. "The cowpea virus-based nanoparticles act like a switch that turns on the immune system to recognize and fight against the tumor-as well as to remember it," said Nicole Steinmetz, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering at Case Western Reserve, appointed by the Case Western Reserve School of Medicine, and member of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center.[more]

Neurosurgery Researchers Bar and Sloan Receive Grant to Study Brain Cancer

Eli Bar, PhD, Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery at Case Western Reserve University and UH Case Medical Center and member of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, was awarded a 5-year, $1.8 million NIH grant targeting brain tumor stem cells to learn more about why they are so resistant to conventional therapy. Co-investigator is Cancer Center member Andrew Sloan, MD, who serves as the Peter D. Cristal Chair in Neurosurgery and Director of the Brain Tumor and Neuro-Oncology Center at UH Case Medical Center.

Reducing Cost for Screening does not Increase Colorectal Cancer Screening Rates

‌Making colonoscopy available at no cost to eligible Medicare beneficiaries under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) did not increase the number of people in this target population who regularly undergo the procedure, says a new large scale national study from University Hospitals Case Medical Center Seidman Cancer Center. Interestingly, the same analysis found that rates of routine mammography significantly increased following the ACA's mandate for low or no cost screenings for Medicare recipients.

"It was long assumed that cost was a major prohibitive factor for why people didn't get screened. So the Affordable Care Act made an effort to reduce or remove costs for several highly successful screening and recommended procedures, including mammography and colonoscopy," said study lead author Gregory Cooper, MD, Co-Leader of the Cancer Prevention, Control & Population Research Program at the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, Co-Program Leader for Cancer Prevention and Control, UH Seidman Cancer Center and Professor, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. "This data shows that doing so still doesn't necessarily guarantee the patients who should be screened will be. Other factors clearly play a role and need to be addressed as well." [more]

Madabhushi and Team Awarded Two Patents

Anant Madabhushi, PhD, Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Director of the Center for Computational Imaging and Personalized Diagnostics (CCIPD), and member of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, and his team were issued two patents - U.S. patent 9,177,105 and U.S. patent 9,177,014 - in pattern recognition of cancer from digital pathology and imaging data. [more]

Case Western Reserve University Professor Lands $600,000 Grant from Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

David Wald, an assistant professor of pathology at Case Western Reserve University, has received a $600,000 grant from the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) to develop immunotherapies for blood cancers using Natural Killer cells. Natural Killer, or NK, cells were first identified in mice in 1975 as being able to kill tumor cells. Since then, they've become known as innate defense mechanisms against stressed, infected or malignant cells.

"Immunotherapy is emerging as an exciting approach to treat cancer, with researchers finding effective ways to mobilize the body's own immune system to kill cancer cells," said LLS chief scientific officer Lee Greenberger in a statement. "Dr. Wald's work with Natural Killer cells show true potential, and we look forward to seeing his strategy tested in clinical trials." [more]

Anemia Prevalent and Independently Associated With Functional Disability in Older Patients With Cancer

"Anemia was highly prevalent and independently associated with functional disability" among older adults with cancer, according to an analysis of data conducted by a team led by Dr. Cynthia Owusu, a geriatric oncologist at UH Seidman Cancer Center, Associate Professor in the Division of Hematology and Oncology at the CWRU School of Medicine, and member of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center. "Older patients with anemia were more than twice as likely to have functional disability than those without anemia," the investigators reported in the Journal of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (Owusu et al. J Natl Compr Canc Netw2015;13:1233-1239). [more]

Prostate cancer radiation therapy without fatigue? Nursing researcher seeks answers to common side effect

Fatigue from prostate cancer and its treatment can be debilitating.

The symptom, which can't be relieved with rest, can lead to increased depression, impaired cognitive function, sleep disturbance and health-related quality-of-life issues.

To treat-and ultimately prevent-cancer-related fatigue, Case Western Reserve University cancer researcher Chao-Pin Hsiao will develop and test a novel mechanism of mitochondrial bioenergetics and radiation-induced fatigue using molecular-genetic approaches. The research is supported with a $272,970 grant from National Institute of Nursing Research (K01NR015246). [more]

CWRU researchers building digital pathology tools to predict cancer outcomes

Case Western Reserve University researchers have been awarded two grants totaling $3.16 million from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to create analytic software for managing, annotating, sharing and analyzing digital pathology imaging data.

Anant Madabhushi, a professor of biomedical engineering and member of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, will lead a seven-institute consortium to expand the capabilities of a freely-available pathology image viewer, building what they call a "pathology image informatics platform" (PIIP).

"The tools developed under this grant will be shared with other members, and we will use the tools developed by other members," Madabhushi said. "Think of it as an app store for digital pathology. As the community begins to use our tools for analysis, they will give back, enhancing ours and adding their own tools." [more

Cleveland Clinic Researchers Discover New Thyroid Cancer Gene

Dr. Charis EngCleveland Clinic researchers have discovered a new gene associated with Cowden syndrome, an inherited condition that carries high risks of thyroid, breast, and other cancers, and a subset of non-inherited thyroid cancers, as published today in the online version of the American Journal of Human Genetics [Eng Am J Hum Genet. 2015 Oct 27]

Thyroid cancer, the most common cancer of the endocrine glands, is the fastest rising cancer in women and second fastest rising in men in the U.S. The new gene, SEC23B, discovered by Charis Eng, MD, PhD, Founding Chair of the Genomic Medicine Institute within Cleveland Clinic's Lerner Research Institute and Director of the Center for Personalized Genetic Healthcare, encodes a protein involved in the transport of all proteins within cells. [more]

University Hospitals Surgeon Conducts Study to Develop Community Hospital Pancreatic Surgery Program

Dr. Jeffrey Hardacre, Chair of the Surgical Oncology Quality Committee at UH Case Medical Center, Associate Professor of Surgery at the CWRU School of Medicine and member of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, co-authored a study that was recently published online in the Journal of Gastrointestinal Surgery. [Hardacre J Gastrointest Surg. 2015 Sep 10

To overcome some insurance restrictions that limited access to UH pancreatic surgical care, Hardacre and his colleagues embarked upon a plan to develop a pancreatic surgery program at UH Ahuja Medical Center.  In doing so, they allowed patients with virtually all types of commercial insurance to access UH surgeons for high quality pancreatic surgery.  Further, for many patients, the opportunity to have their operations at Ahuja meant that their care was provided closer to home in a family friendly environment.  This study represents the short-term outcomes of the first two years of the program.

Men Can Benefit from Pelvic Exercises to Prevent Urinary Leaks after Prostate Cancer Treatment, Study Finds

Men with urinary leaks from surgery or radiation therapy for prostate cancer can benefit from "Kegel" exercises known for treating incontinence in women after giving birth, according to a Case Western Reserve University study.

About 30 percent of prostate cancer patients nationally are affected by incontinence a year after surgery, and another 14 percent still feel the effects after five years, said Amy Y. Zhang, PhD, associate professor from the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing at Case Western Reserve and member of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center. [more]

Family Medicine and Community Health Journal Examines Cancer and Primary care

Cancer and Primary Care is the theme of the new issue of Family Medicine and Community Health (FMCH), an international peer reviewed medical journal with editorial offices in China and the US. The Autumn 2015 issue includes four original research articles on cancer, one systematic review on global health and two papers focusing specifically on health care in China. Authors contributing to this issue come from diverse institutions, including the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, Stanford University; Johns Hopkins Medicine, Baltimore; Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Cleveland; the Indian Institute of Public Health, Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India; ACON Primary Care Research Center, Hangzhou, China and the University of Edinburgh, UK.

Cancer is a disease that affects many people regardless of race, economic status, gender or age. This special issue of FMCH, coordinated by Li Li MD, PhD, Associate Director for Prevention Research at the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, Professor of Family Medicine, Epidemiology, and Biostatistics, and Mary Ann Swetland Endowed Professor of Environmental Health Sciences at Case Western Reserve University, looks at cancer screening, treatment, survivorship, access to care, and global health.

Zhenfei Li Named 2015 Prostate Cancer Foundation Young Investigator Award

Zhenfei Li, PhD of the Cleveland Clinic has been named a 2015 Prostate Cancer Foundation Young Investigator for his proposal, "A Novel Abiraterone Metabolite as a Predictive Biomarker for Clinical Response to Abiraterone." Dr. Li is mentored by Case Comprehensive Cancer Center members Nima Sharifi, MD and Eric Klein, MD.

Young Investigator Awards are made to exceptional early career scientists who will pioneer and transform new biotechnologies into saving lives of prostate cancer patients.

Cabozantinib versus Everolimus in Advanced Renal-Cell Carcinoma

Brian Rini MDDr. Brian Rini, co-leader of the GU Malignancies Program at the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, medical oncologist in the Department of Solid Tumor Oncology at Cleveland Clinic, and Associate Professor of Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University,  co-authored a study published recently in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study, "Cabozantinib versus Everolimus in Advanced Renal-Cell Carcinoma" (Choueiri et al. N Engl J Med. 2015 Sep 25), examined the efficacy of an oral drug cabozantinib, which targets vascular endothelial growth factor receptor (VEGFR) as well as MET and AXL, compared to everolimus  in relapsed/refractory renal-cell carcinoma patients. Results showed that patients had a longer progression-free survival with cabonzantinib than with everolimus for patients who had progressed after receiving prior VEGFR-targeted therapy.

Large Grant Will Help Cleveland Doctor in Cancer Research

Making strides in the fight to end breast cancer, Case Western Reserve's Dr. Huiping Liu just received a grant from the Susan G. Komen Foundation for more than $450,000

"It's exciting and also happy for us to extend our research," Dr. Liu says. 

Liu is a member of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center and National Center for Regenerative Medicine. The medical scientist and her team will use the money to look for mechanisms that can help people survive breast cancer and stop the cancer cells from spreading. One of the components of the mechanisms is microRNA-30, a tiny molecule that suppresses tumors and keeps tumor cells from spreading in the breast tissue. [more]

Biomarker May Predict which HER2-negative Breast Cancer Patients will Benefit from Targeted Therapy

A multicenter team led by Case Western Reserve has demonstrated that brief exposure to a targeted therapy can tell doctors which HER2-negative patients will respond - and which should switch to another kind of treatment.

"What all this means is that we have identified a signature that tells us which patients are likely to respond to bevacizumab and chemotherapy," said Principal Investigator and senior author Lyndsay Harris, MD, Professor of Medicine at Case Western Reserve and co-leader of the developing Breast Cancer Program, "and we can identify those patients within 15 days of the very first dose they receive."

Lead author, Vinay Varadan, PhD, Assistant Professor of General Medicine and a member of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center said, "We are among the first groups in the world to show that this approach, which perturbs the tumor with one dose of therapy, allows us to see the changes induced by the therapy that predict how the tumor will respond to the remaining cycles of chemotherapy."

Joining Varadan and Harris in this research were contributing authors from Case Western Reserve University include Hannah Gilmore, Krisy Miskimen, and Nicole Williams, Case Western Reserve School of Medicine; Ajay Basavanhally and Anant Madabhushi, both of Biomedical Engineering, Case Western Reserve. [more]

Case Western Reserve Scientists Discover Long-sought Genetic Mechanism for Cancer Progression

Genetics researchers from Case Western Reserve School of Medicine have identified a novel long non-coding RNA (lncRNA), dubbed DACOR1, that has the potential to stymie the growth of tumor cells in the second-most deadly form of cancer in the U.S. - colorectal cancer. 

The researchers found that this lncRNA is present in cells of healthy colons, but becomes suppressed in those carrying the disease. More importantly, this lncRNA interacts with a key enzyme known as DNMT1 that has important functions in all healthy cells of the body. Thus, the authors applied a name to this novel lncRNA - DACOR1, which stands for DNMT1-Associated Colon Cancer Repressed lncRNA-1. 

The scientists' next challenge is to determine how to deliver DACOR1 to tumors where it may be able to slow, or even stop, the spread of malignant cells. The researchers' initial findings appeared in this month's edition of Human Molecular Genetics.

"We found that the metabolism of cancer cells slows when we put DACOR1 back in," said senior author Ahmad M. Khalil, PhD, an assistant professor of genetics and genome sciences and a member of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center. "If we could figure out a way to deliver DACOR1 to tumors, we could change the methylation patterns in cancer cells to either destroy or at least regress tumors." [more]

Colon Cancer Researcher Sanford Markowitz Receives Distinguished University Professorship

Groundbreaking medical research offers Sanford Markowitz the best of two worlds. He thrives on solving tough scientific puzzles that come with medical research in a top-flight academic center. He also finds immense gratification that his work may someday help someone with serious illness such as colon cancer.

Profound dedication to colon cancer and oncology research has earned Markowitz a major Case Western Reserve University honor: 2015 Distinguished University Professor. He joined Donald L. Feke, vice provost for graduate education, and Ica Manas-Zloczower, engineering professor, in receiving Distinguished University Professor honors during fall convocation Wednesday, Aug. 26.

Markowitz serves as head of the Cancer Genetics Program of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center and as principal investigator of the Case GI Cancers SPORE Center, an NCI-designated program of research excellence in gastrointestinal cancers. He also is an attending physician at the Seidman Cancer Center at University Hospitals Case Medical Center.

Most notable have been Markowitz's discoveries in colon cancer. The illness is of direct personal interest to him because his father was diagnosed with colon cancer when Markowitz served as an intern, which made the disease a natural focus for his research. [more]

Researchers Find Key Protein Drives "Power Plants" that Fuel Cells in Heart and Other Key Systems in the Body

Case Western Reserve University scientists have discovered that a protein called Kruppel-like Factor 4(KLF4) controls mitochondria-the "power plants" in cells that catalyze energy production. Specifically, they determined KLF4's pivotal role through its absence-that is, the mitochondria malfunction without enough of the protein, which in turn leads to reduced energy. This decline is particularly problematic in the heart because lower energy can lead to heart failure and death.

The researchers' findings appear in the August edition of The Journal of Clinical Investigation (JCI). In addition to an article detailing the research, the edition also features a First Author Perspective piece from Xudong Liao, an assistant professor of medicine in the area of cardiovascular medicine at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.

"Xudong made the observation several years ago that mice lacking KLF4 in the heart developed profound heart failure in response to stress," said senior author Mukesh Jain, the Ellery Sedgwick Jr. Chair and Distinguished Scientist, director of the Case Cardiovascular Research Institute, and member of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center. "In this most recent research, he looked into the mechanisms for why the heart had failed so quickly and made the exciting observation that KLF4 controls major aspects of the mitochondrial biology." [more]

Venous Thromboembolism in Cancer Patients: CATCH Results

Treatment with low-molecular-weight heparin (LMWH) is as safe and effective as warfarin in cancer patients with acute symptomatic venous thromboembolism (VTE), according to new findings.

Compared with warfarin, the LMWH tinzaparin (Innohep, LEO Pharma) did not significantly reduce the composite primary outcome of recurrent VTE, and it was not associated with reductions in overall mortality or major bleeding.

However, the risk for clinically relevant nonmajor bleeding events was significantly lower with tinzaparin (49 of 449 patients) than with warfarin (69 of 451 patients); the hazard ratio (HR) was 0.58 (P = .004). Findings from the CATCH study, initially presented last year at the annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology, as reported by Medscape Medical News were published in the August 18 issue of JAMA. "We haven't had a larger confirmation until now," explained senior author Alok Khorana, MD, a medical oncologist at the Cleveland Clinic and member of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center. [more]

Tell-tale Biomarker Detects Early Breast Cancer in NIH-funded Study

Researchers have shown that magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can detect the earliest signs of breast cancer recurrence and fast-growing tumors. Their approach detects micrometastases, breakaway tumor cells with the potential to develop into dangerous secondary breast cancer tumors elsewhere in the body. The approach may offer an improved way to detect early recurrence of breast cancer in women and men. The work was completed at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU), Cleveland and was funded by the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB), part of the National Institutes of Health.

The study, published online in the Aug. 12, 2015, issue of Nature Communications, was led by Zheng-Rong Lu, PhD, CWRU M. Frank Rudy and Margaret Domiter Rudy Professor of biomedical engineering and an expert in molecular imaging for cancer and other diseases. More>

Cleveland Clinic Researcher Recipient of the National Cancer Institute's Prestigious Outstanding Investigator Award

Jeremy Rich, MD, Chair of the Department of Stem Cell Biology & Regenerative Medicine in Cleveland Clinic's Lerner Research Institute, has been awarded the National Cancer Institute's prestigious Outstanding Investigator Award and will receive $6.7 million over seven years for his research laboratory. The National Cancer Institute awards these select grants to established scientists who have exceptional records of accomplishment and whose research shows great promise for future medical breakthroughs.

"This is an amazing honor and opportunity," Dr. Rich said. "We are just now beginning to comprehend the unique biology of brain cancer stem cells, and this substantial award will push us years ahead in finding new treatments for glioblastoma." More>

New Approach to Decades Old Treatment Yields Increased Survival for Some Prostate Cancer Patients

Research coordinated by the ECOG-ACRIN Cancer Research Group, supported in part by the National Cancer Institute, and published in the current online version of The New England Journal of Medicine, examined the outcomes of giving the chemotherapy drug docetaxel at the start of ADT. Results showed an increased survival of 13.6 months for patients treated with ADT plus docetaxel than with ADT alone.
Authors on this study include Case Comprehensive Cancer Center members Drs. Matthew M. Cooney, University Hospitals Case Medical Center, Seidman Cancer Center, and Jorge A. Garcia, Cleveland Clinic Taussig Cancer Institute. More>

Charis Eng and Hannah Wang Receive Mentorship Grant from Doris Duke Charitable Foundation

Dr. Charis Eng, the Sondra J. and Stephen R. Hardis Endowed Chair of Cancer Genomic Medicine, and Hannah Wang, Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, are recipients of a Doris Duke Charitable Foundation Clinical Research Mentorships grant. This competitive award program supports the development of a mentoring relationship between a medical student interested in becoming a future researcher, and a clinical scientist previously funded through the foundation. More>

Activated T Cells Serve as Adoptive Immunotherapy in Melanoma Models

T cells from patients with melanoma can trigger a protective immune response against the disease according to a new study out of University Hospitals Case Medical Center Seidman Cancer Center and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. 

Researchers say their adoptive immunotherapy study ("T Cells Derived From Human Melanoma Draining Lymph Nodes Mediate Melanoma-specific Antitumor Responses In Vitro and In Vivo in Human Melanoma Xenograft Model"), published in the July/August issue of Journal of Immunotherapy, demonstrates that T cells derived from lymph nodes of patients with melanoma can be expanded in number and activated in the laboratory for intravenous administration in the treatment of patients. Led by Julian Kim, MD, chief medical officer at UH Seidman Cancer Center and member of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, the team has developed a technique to generate large numbers of activated T cells which can be transferred back into the same patient to stimulate the immune system to attack the cancer. More>

CWRU Researcher Awarded Grant to Help Make Biomedical Network Data More Accessible to Speed Health Discoveries

Case Western Reserve University researcher Mehmet Koyuturk, an associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science, was awarded a $1.3 million grant from NIH to help develop open-source software to store biomedical data and make this mountain range of information handy. His was one of 15 proposals to win grants under the NIH Big Data to Knowledge (BD2K) initiative. More>

Novel Algorithm Identifies DNA Copy-number Landscapes in African American Colon Cancers

‌An algorithm dubbed ENVE could be the Google for genetic aberrations -- and it comes from Case Western Reserve researchers Kishore Guda and Vinay Varadan.

Remember the World Wide Web before the famed search engine? The web offered extraordinary amounts of information, but no consistently reliable way to secure relevant results.

Cancer researchers at Case Western Reserve encountered a comparable conundrum when considering reams of data about the body that new technological advances provide -- how could they tell what parts of the information actually offer value. In this instance, the goal was to distinguish between distracting or even misleading material and evidence worthy of action.

Their answer -- as well as remarkable findings involving genetic characteristics of African Americans with colon cancer -- appears this week in the journal Genome Medicine.

Key Protein Controls Nutrient Availability in Mammals

Case Western Reserve researchers already demonstrated that a single protein plays a pivotal role in the use of nutrients by major organs that allow for the burning of fat during exercise or regulating the heart's contractile and electrical activity. Now they have found a new benefit of Kruppel-like Factor 15 (KLF15) -- keeping the body in metabolic balance.

The discovery, which highlights how KLF15 affects the availability of nutrients in the body, may also have significant implications for scientists' ability to understand ways that the body metabolizes different medications. The findings appeared last month in the journal Nature Communications.

"It's important to understand how nutrients are acquired, how they are made available to tissues, how they are used, and how disease alters the dynamics of the process," said Mukesh K. Jain, MD, Ellery Sedgwick Jr. Chair & Distinguished Scientist and director of the Case Cardiovascular Research Institute, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, and member of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center. More>

Researcher Discovers Metabolite of Prostate Cancer Drug More Effective at Treating Aggressive Tumors

‌Cleveland Clinic researchers have discovered for the first time that a metabolite of an FDA-approved drug for metastatic prostate cancer, abiraterone (Abi), has more anti-cancer properties than its precursor. The research was published online June 1 in Nature.

Nima Sharifi, MD, co-Leader of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center GU Malignancies Program, found that abiraterone, a steroid inhibitor, is converted into the more physiologically active D4A (Δ4-abiraterone) in both patients and animal models with prostate cancer who take the drug. Furthermore, they found that D4A is more effective than abiraterone at killing aggressive prostate cancer cells, suggesting that some patients may benefit from direct treatment with D4A. More>

Gene Assay Predicts Recurrence Following Nephrectomy in Renal Cell Carcinoma; Study Published in Lancet Oncology

Dr. Brian RiniExcerpt from Helio/HemOnc Today 

Recurrence scores based on a 16-gene assay accurately predicted clinical outcomes in patients with surgically treated clear cell renal cell carcinoma, according to study results.

 Surgery or ablation represent curative options for patients with stage I to III clear cell renal cell carcinoma, but about 30% of patients with localized disease will relapse, according to study background. Clinicians frequently use clinical and pathological parameters to determine the probability of recurrence. 

"The current methods we use to assess recurrence can certainly be improved," Brian Rini, MD, associate professor of medicine in the department of urology at the Cleveland Clinic and a HemOnc Today Editorial Board member, told HemOnc Today. "Researchers have utilized a similar testing method to predict breast cancer recurrence."  Dr. Rini is co-leader of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center GU Malignancies Program. More>

New Approach to Classifying Brain Tumors Could Lead to Significant Improvements in Diagnosis, Treatment

Dr. Andrew Sloan Andrew Sloan, MD, a Case Comprehensive Cancer Center brain surgeon and neurosurgery professor at CWRU is among the primary authors of a new approach to classifying tumors that could lead to significant improvements in their diagnosis and treatment. The research and recommendations appear online June 10 in The New England Journal of Medicine. 

Dr. Sloan, Director of the Brain Tumor and Neuro-Oncology Center at University Hospitals Case Medical Center, said the new classification system has the potential to provide far more accurate assessments of brain tumors known as low and intermediate grade gliomas (LGGs) - which in turn could enhance patients' outcomes. 

Scientists and physicians from Cleveland and 43 other federally designated cancer centers used molecular and genetic analysis to develop an approach that reduces the role of individual observers' assessments of the tumors' appearance. Co-authors on the study include Cancer Center members Drs. Gene Barnett and Jill Barnholtz-SloanMore >

New Drug Stimulates Tissue Regeneration, Catalyzing Faster Regrowth and Healing of Damaged Tissues

Researchers at Case Western Reserve and UT Southwestern Medical Center this week announced that they have taken significant steps toward turning this once-improbable idea into a vivid reality. In a study published in the June 12 edition of Science, they detail how a new drug repaired damage to the colon, liver and bone marrow in animal models - even going so far as to save the lives of mice who otherwise would have died in a bone marrow transplantation model. 

"We are very excited," said Sanford Markowitz, MD, PhD, the Ingalls Professor of Cancer Genetics at the university's School of Medicine, medical oncologist at University Hospitals Case Medical Center's Seidman Cancer Center, and co-leader of the Cancer Genetics Program at the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center. "We have developed a drug that acts like a vitamin for tissue stem cells, stimulating their ability to repair tissues more quickly. The drug heals damage in multiple tissues, which suggests to us that it may have applications in treating many diseases." 

The study was truly a collaborative effort with research being performed by many Cancer Center members, including Case CCC Director Dr. Stan Gerson, Drs. Fabio Cominelli, Mark Chance and Stephen Fink and former Case CCC Director Dr. James K.V. Willson, now director of the UT Southwestern Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center. More >

Ahmad M. Khalil, PhD Identified Key Genes and Molecules that Spur Aggressive Activity

In this study, Ahmad M. Khalil, PhD, a member of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, and colleagues chose an innovative approach. He and colleagues compared gene expression differences among HER2+ breast cancer tissues of uncontrolled HER2 activity with those having greatly diminished HER2 activity. Ultimately their work revealed 35 genes and three long intervening noncoding RNA (lincRNAs) molecules were most associated with the active HER2+ cells. [more]

Robert C. Elston, PhD 2015 Frank and Dorothy Humel Hovorka Prize

Robert C. Elston, PhD Case Comprehensive Cancer Center Member, the Amasa B. Ford, MD, Professor of Geriatric Medicine and Distinguished University Professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine,  has received the 2015 Frank and Dorothy Humel Hovorka Prize.

Given to those who have made extraordinary contributions to their academic field and to Case Western Reserve, the award is considered one of the highest forms of recognition a faculty member can receive. Elston received the award during commencement ceremonies on Sunday, May 17. [more]

Neetu Gupta, PhD Lab Publishes research in Ezrin in B cell Lymphoma

Neetu Gupta, PhD's lab investigates protective and pathogenic mechanisms of B lymphocyte activation. We recently published new research (in the journal Leukemia 2015 Mar 24. doi: 10.1038/leu.2015.86) showing that the function of Ezrin, an innocuous protein that tethers the cell membrane to the actin cytoskeleton, is hijacked in cancerous B cells. Genetic and pharmacological inhibition of Ezrin's function induces death of cancer cell lines derived from lymphoma patients in cell culture and in mouse studies. This work provides the foundation for developing and testing new anti-cancer agents targeting Ezrin in B cell lymphomas. [more]

Novel Phase I Clinical Trial of Adoptive T Cell Therapy in Patients with Advanced Melanoma Open at Seidman

UH Seidman Cancer Center is now accruing patients to a novel  Phase I clinical trial of a novel form of adoptive T cell therapy in patients with advanced melanoma.  This first-in-human study will use a proprietary method of activating human lymph node T cells in culture which was developed at UH and Case.  The patient's own T cells derived from a lymph node are activated in the laboratory over 14 days and subsequently administered i.v. as a method of boosting the immune system to fight cancer.  UH will be one of only a few centers nationwide that possess the expertise and resources to administer T cell therapy for cancer patients.  T cell cultures will be performed within the National Center for Regenerative Medicine.  The study will be led by members of the Case CCC, Dr. Julian Kim, Surgical Oncology, and Drs. Henry Koon and Hillard Lazarus, Medical Oncology.  The study is funded by UH, the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center-NIH and the Immunogene Therapy Fund.

Madabhushi awarded NCI grant to study ductal carcinoma in situ

Anant Madabhushi, PhD,  professor of biomedical engineering, and his team have been awarded a $387,000 grant from the National Cancer Institute to develop image-based methods to predict aggression in ductal carcinoma in situ, a precursor of breast cancer. [more]

Nima Sharifi, MD Published on

Nima Sharifi, MD published in Nature Reviews Urology on for Prostate cancer: CYP17A1 inhibitor failure-lessons for future drug development. The ELM-PC 5 phase III randomized, double blind, multicentre trial comparing treatment with orteronel plus prednisone with placebo plus prednisone failed to show an overall survival benefit for orteronel therapy. Several possible reasons exist for the lack of a positive result in this study. [more]

Depression Symptoms of African-American Cancer Patients May be Under-recognized, Study Finds

Case Western Reserve University nurse scientist Amy Zhang, PhD who has long examined quality-of-life issues in cancer patients, wondered whether depression in African-American cancer patients has been under-recognized for treatment.

Accurately assessing depression in cancer patients is difficult in general because the physical symptoms of cancer and depression-low energy, lack of sleep and loss of appetite-are so similar.

“African-American cancer patients are often sicker and have more severe physical symptoms,” said Zhang, an associate professor at Case Western Reserve’s Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing. “So I wanted to see if something was missing in how and what we were asking patients.” More>


Dr Li Li - Anti-Diabetic Drug Metformin and Vitamin D3 Show Impressive Promise in Preventing Colorectal Cancer

Case Western Reserve Scientists Collaborate with China's Lanzhou University Investigators in Exploring the Dual Compound Strategy.

The concept was simple: If two compounds each individually show promise in preventing colon cancer, surely it's worth trying the two together to see if even greater impact is possible.

In this instance, Case Western Reserve cancer researcher Li Li, MD, PhD, could not have been more prescient.

Not only did the combination of the two improve outcomes in animal studies, but the dual-compound effect was dramatically better than either option alone. Even better, these impressive results required only modest amounts of metformin and Vitamin D3, making concerns about side effects from mega-dosing entirely moot. Their piece served as the cover feature February's edition of Cancer Prevention Research.

The results are so promising, in fact, that Li, the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center's associate director for prevention research, already has three options in mind for clinical trials - outright primary prevention, prevention of colon adenoma recurrence, and enhancement of chances for survival for those who have colorectal cancers. 


Dr. Halle Moore Published in NEJM for Research on Goserelin for Ovarian Protection During Breast-Cancer Adjuvant Chemotherapy

Dr. Halle MooreNew England Journal of Medicine - Mar 5, 2015
The POEMS/S0230 impressive results were published in NEJM this past week.

As PI on the SWOG randomized study of 257 premenopausal women with operable hormone-receptor-negative breast cancer receiving standard chemotherapy with or without the GnRH agonist goserelin, Dr Halle Moore was able to demonstrate improved protection against ovarian failure and therefore improved prospects for fertility.

The impact of this research was articulated by Dr Stan Gerson; " I think more than anything is to remember how rare out work changes the practice of medicine and this will do so."

Study Links New Genetic Anomalies to Breast Cancer in African American Families

A team of researchers at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) assisted in a study that uncovered previously unknown segments of DNA shared by African American family members who have breast cancer. The study was led by Dr. Heather Ochs-Balcom from the University of Buffalo, a former postdoc of Dr. Robert Elston.

African American women have different incidence of breast cancer as compared to European American women, in particular the distribution of the known subtypes of breast cancer are different between these groups. Treatment decisions and clinical outcomes are tightly coupled with breast cancer subtype designation.

For the study, Dr. Ochs-Balcom recruited African American women with breast cancer and their family members. Sophisticated statistical analysis was conducted by the team at CWRU and the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, including Xiangqing Sun, Yanwen Chen, Jill Barnholtz-Sloan and Robert Elston. Using this analysis, Dr. Ochs-Balcom was able to find novel genetic variants for these families not previously described in European American families with breast cancer. More>

Madabhushi Named Associate Member of NCI Quantitative Imaging Network

Dr. Anant MadabhushiAnant Madabhushi, PhD of the CWRU Department of Biomedical Engineering, Center for Computational Imaging and Personalized Diagnostics, and Case Comprehensive Cancer Center has been unanimously elected to the National Cancer Institute's Quantitative Imaging Network (QIN) on account of his ongoing NCI funded grant R01CA136535-01, Software to facilitate multimode, multi-scale fused data for Pathology and Radiology.

The Quantitative Imaging Network (QIN) grows from the NCI program announcement "Quantitative Imaging for Evaluation of Responses to Cancer Therapies". The network is designed to promote research and development of quantitative imaging methods for the measurement of tumor response to therapies in clinical trial settings, with the overall goal of facilitating clinical decision making. Projects include the appropriate development and adaptation/implementation of quantitative imaging methods, imaging protocols, and software solutions/tools (using existing commercial imaging platforms and instrumentation) and application of these methods in current and planned clinical therapy trials. The projects are focusing on imaging-derived quantitative measurements of responses to drugs and/or radiation therapy, and/or image-guided interventions (IGI).

As an Associate member of the QIN, Dr. Madabhushi will attend quarterly meetings in Washington, DC and will be contributing his expertise and tools being developed in computational imaging and radiology-pathology data fusion as part of R01CA136535-01 to the consortium.

Madabhushi to Serve on Computer Science Journal Editorial Board

Dr. Anant MadabhushiDr. Anant Madabhushi, Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Director of the Center for Computational Imaging and Personalized Diagnostics at Case Western Reserve University, has been invited to serve as associate editor for the Journal of Medical Image Analysis (MedIA), one of the top international journals in computer science. Dr. Madabhushi is also a member of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Groundbreaking Study Sheds Light on Treating Blood Cancers

Dr. Yogen SaunthararajahIn a new study, researchers explored ways to treat life-threatening blood cancers in a less toxic way. They worked to wipe out cancer cells in the blood without destroying healthy surrounding cells. Yogen Saunthararajah, MD, who treats cancer patients at Cleveland Clinic, led the study. Dr. Saunthararajah, Co-leader of the Developmental Therapeutics Program and Professor, Hematologic Oncology and Blood Disorders, explains how the new approach works by comparing it to a popular arcade game.

"The way the medicine works is like the game Whac-a-Mole™. You have a mallet and you're only getting the moles that happen to be in a particular phase of their growth cycle. You don't want a huge mallet because you're just going to damage the golf green. You want a little mallet and you want to keep on whacking regularly," Dr. Saunthararajah says.

In the same way, the new treatment involves using an existing drug but in a more targeted, repetitive way. The idea is to use more and smaller doses, as though the drug were the mallet you use to strike the cancer cells. More>

Sharifi Receives Prostate Cancer Center Foundation Challenge Award

Dr. Nima SharifiDr. Nima Sharifi, Associate Professor of Cancer Biology at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of CWRU and Co-Leader of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center GU Malignancies Program, is one of six people to receive a Challenge Award from the Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF). These multi-year awards support cross-disciplinary teams of research scientists to advance the treatment of lethal prostate cancer.

According to a PCF press release, Dr. Sharifi's project will develop an FDA-approved prognostic test to identify patients with genetic mutations that predispose them to treatment resistance. An inherited mutation in 3βHSD1 increases the body's production of male hormones, leading to poor clinical outcomes when patients are treated with androgen deprivation therapy. Dr. Sharifi's work will be translated into a new diagnostic test, which may also predict the efficacy of abiraterone (Zytiga®) as an alternative treatment for these high-risk patients. This is Dr. Sharifi's third PCF award; he was named a PCF Young Investigator in 2008, and a co-investigator on a previous Challenge Award. More>

Tesar Recognized with International Stem Cell Award

Dr. Paul TesarThe International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) has named Paul Tesar, PhD of Case Western Reserve University and the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center the Outstanding Young Investigator for 2015. The award "recognizes the exceptional achievements of an investigator in the early part of his or her independent career in stem cell research who will be honored with the award at the ISSCR Annual Meeting in Stockholm, Sweden in June 2015." More>

ASCO's Cancer.Net Provides Free Educational Videos About Clinical Trials

ASCO’s Cancer.Net is providing free access to a new educational program to help patients and their caregivers learn about clinical trials and address barriers to participation.

The video-based program, Preparatory Education About Clinical Trials (PRE-ACT), is designed to improve patients’ general knowledge and attitudes about clinical trials, and prepare them for considering participation if this option is available. The program was tested with more than 1,200 patients in a phase III randomized clinical trial. 

Cancer.Net licensed the program from the Case Western Reserve University, in Cleveland, Ohio, where the program was developed by ASCO member Neal J. Meropol, MD, of the Seidman Cancer Center at University Hospitals Case Medical Center, through a grant from the National Cancer Institute. Dr. Meropol began designing PRE-ACT with a team of colleagues when he was a faculty member at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, PA. More> 

Researchers Identify New Gene Mutations Linked to Colorectal Cancer in African American Patients

‌Case Comprehensive Cancer Center researchers have identified new gene mutations unique to colon cancers in African Americans the population with the highest incidence and death rates of any group for this disease.

This discovery – namely, that colorectal cancers appear different on a molecular level in African Americans – offers new hope for these patients. With this groundbreaking knowledge, scientists now will seek to develop treatments that target the distinct nature of the disease in African Americans – and, they hope, begin to reduce the devastation disproportionately wrought on this population.

The findings, published in the Jan. 12 edition of PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences), only became possible because of technological advances in gene sequencing and computational analysis. The study that revealed this invaluable information ultimately involved review of 1.5 billion bits of data. More>

Distelhorst Named 2015 Harrington Scholar-Innovator

Dr. Clark DistelhorstClark Distelhorst, MD, PhD, Professor in the Division of Hematology/Oncology at CWRU and University Hospitals Case Medical Center (UHCMC), was recently named a 2015 Harrington Scholar-Innovator by the Harrington Discovery Institute (HDI) at UHCMC. Dr. Distelhorst is one of 11 outstanding physician-scientists in the nation to receive the award, which provides funding and drug development to help bring their research from basic discovery to clinical introduction.

As a recipient of this award, Dr. Distelhorst will receive up to $700,000 over two years to support his research on blood cancer. In addition, he along with his fellow Scholar-Innovators will be given access to HDI's Innovation Support Center, which includes a renowned group of industry experts charged with helping guide drug development. More>

Vinayak Honored as Master Clinician

Dr. Shaveta VinayakShaveta Vinayak, MD, Assistant Professor in the Division of Hematology/Oncology at CWRU and UHCMC, was honored as the inaugural Becky Hennessy Endowed Master Clinician in Breast Cancer Genomics. This endowment recognizes Dr. Vinayak's excellence in patient care and accomplishments, dedication, and clinical research focus on genomic approaches to breast cancer treatment.

First Gene Associated with Familial Glioma Identified

A study conducted by the Gliogene Consortium, an international consortium of researchers, has identified for the first time a gene associated with familial glioma,providing new support that certain people may be genetically predisposed to the disease. Study authors found an increased risk of cancer associated with mutations in the POT1 gene. The findings were published last week in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

"This discovery is tremendously exciting, as we have known for years that a small subset of families have multiple people with gliomas, yet we have not understood the potential causes," commented study collaborator, Dr. Jill Barnholtz-Sloan. "This new paper sheds light on a potential cause for some of these families." Dr. Barnholtz-Sloan, Associate Director for Bioinformatics at the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center and Associate Professor in the Division of General Medical Sciences (Oncology) at CWRU, recruited families to the study and is the Ohio Principal Investigator for the Gliogene Consortium. More>

Huiping Liu, MD, PhD

Liu Named Mt. Sinai Health Care Foundation Scholar

Huiping Liu, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Pathology at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, was named a Mt. Sinai Health Care Foundation Scholar. The Mt. Sinai Health Care Foundation Scholars Program has assisted the CWRU School of Medicine in attracting young, highly promising research stars in order to build its basic science departments.

Dr. Liu came to CWRU from the University of Chicago, where she worked on microRNAs in human breast cancer in their Transitional Chicago Fellows Program. Currently, she is the primary investigator on a Case Comprehensive Cancer Center pilot genomics study on RNA sequencing of breast cancer stem cells.
More >

Justin Lathia, PhD

Lathia Receives Award for Brain Cancer Research

Justin Lathia, PhD, of the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine at Cleveland Clinic's Lerner Research Institute and member of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, was recently honored with a Distinguished Scientist Award from the Sontag Foundation. The award is given to young scientists whose research is likely to improve the quality of life of patients with brain cancer. It includes a $600,000 award over four years for a brain-cancer-related research project. Dr. Lathia will use the funds to study how cancer stem cells, a population of cells that drive tumor growth and resistance to therapy, interact with the immune system in glioblastoma, the deadliest type of brain tumor.
More >

Ahmed Khalil, PhD

Khalil Selected to Present at Chinese-American Kavli Frontiers of Science Symposium

Ahmad Khalil, PhD, Assistant Professor of Genetics and Genome Sciences at the CWRU School of Medicine and member of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, was selected to speak at the 16th Chinese-American Kavli Frontiers of Science symposium. The symposium, co-sponsored by the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, was held in Beijing October 11-13.

Analisa DiFeo, PhD

Member Spotlight: Analisa DiFeo

Analisa DiFeo, PhD, studies epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC), one of the most lethal gynecological malignancies. Her research focuses on identifying genetic aberrations critical to the development of drug resistance and ovarian cancer progression. The genetic changes she finds will serve as novel biomarkers of ovarian cancer therapeutic response and/or innovative targeted molecular therapies that can work alone or in conjunction with current treatment options.
Member Spotlight: Analisa DiFeo

Afshin Dowlati, MD

Dowlati Helps Lead Study on Potential Treatment Approaches that Could Extend Life of Mesothelioma Patients

A common Asian spice and cancer-hampering molecules show promise in slowing the progression of mesothelioma, a cancer of the lung's lining often linked to asbestos. Scientists from Case Western Reserve University and the Georg-Speyer-Haus in Frankfurt, Germany, demonstrate that application of curcumin, a derivative of the spice turmeric, and cancer-inhibiting peptides increase levels of a protein inhibitor known to combat the progression of this cancer. Their findings appeared in the August 14 online edition Clinical Cancer Research; the print version of the article appeared October 1. "Mesothelioma is a disease that continues to have a significant burden worldwide, and the treatment option is really suboptimal. We must find better ways to treat it," said senior author Afshin Dowlati, MD, Professor of Medicine – Hematology/Oncology, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, and member of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center. "We now understand the mechanisms that drive cell proliferation and growth in malignant mesothelioma."

More >

Mark Griswold, PhD

Radiology's Mark Griswold Earns Medical School's Top Honor

Last week, Mark Griswold, PhD, Professor of Radiology, was awarded the CWRU School of Medicine Medal for Excellence in Health Science Innovation, one of its highest honors, to recognize his extraordinary dedication and accomplishments.

More >

Dr. Michael Vogelbaum

Vogelbaum Appointed to NCI Brain Malignancy Steering Committee

Michael A. Vogelbaum MD, PhD has been appointed to the Brain Malignancy Steering Committee of the National Cancer Institute. This committee functions to review and prioritize adult and pediatric phase II and phase III clinical trials submitted for NCI funding. Dr. Vogelbaum also currently serves as the Co-Chair of the Brain Site Committee and Chair of the Neurosurgery Subcommittee at NRG Oncology, one of four adult clinical trials groups in the NCI's National Clinical Trials Network (NCTN).

Jill Barnholtz-Sloan, PhD

Barnholtz-Sloan Joins Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation Research Advisory Network

Dr. Jill Barnholtz-Sloan, Associate Professor of General Medical Sciences (Oncology) at CWRU and Associate Director for Bioinformatics at the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, has been invited to serve as a member of the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation Research Advisory Network (RAN). As a member of RAN, Dr. Barnholtz-Sloan joins a group of North American leaders in pediatric brain tumor research and clinical care.
More >

Hillard Lazarus, MD

Lazarus Receives July 2014 CTSC Core Utilization Pilot Award

Dr. Hillard Lazarus, Professor in the Division of Hematology/Oncology at CWRU and University Hospitals Case Medical Center, received a July 2014 CTSC Core Utilization Pilot Award for his project, Pre-Clinical Model Using Pluristem Administration For Delayed Engraftment After Hematopoietic Cell Transplant. Clinical and Translational Science Collaborative (CTSC) of Case Western Reserve University Core Utilization pilot program

Arnold Caplan receives Lifetime Achievement Award

Arnold I. Caplan, PhD, professor of Biology, director of the Skeletal Research Center at Case Western Reserve University, and member of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center,received the MSC Lifetime Achievement Award last month at the National Center for Regenerative Medicine's Mesenchymal Stem Cell conference, MSC 2015. Dr. Caplan is the founding director of the conference, which began in 2007 and has since drawn thousands of national and international leaders in translational adult stem cell research and regenerative medicine.

"I am truly honored by this recognition and indebted to all of my collaborating colleagues for assisting in the research that lead to this award," Caplan said. "Dr. Caplan has developed, moved and excited the field of cell therapy beyond his peers and inspired a world wide effort," said 

"Dr. Caplan has developed, moved and excited the field of cell therapy beyond his peers and inspired a world wide effort," said Stanton Gerson, MD, director of the National Center for Regenerative Medicine and Case Comprehensive Cancer Center. "We are proud to recognize his years of service and leadership, creative spirit and commitment to fostering scientific collaboration, excellence and advancement in Mesenchymal Stem Cell research," said Gerson.

Case Western Reserve University Receives $6 Million to Continue Research on Barrett's Esophagus

The National Cancer Institute recently awarded a $6 million grant to the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine to continue research on Barrett's Esophagus, a potentially fatal condition associated with long-term gastroesophageal reflux. Tissue lining the esophagus transforms into tissue similar to that found in the intestine, significantly increasing esophageal cancer risk. more>