Cancer Center News

2012 Cancer Center News

Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute Announces Award to Case Western Reserve University to Study How Applying Patient Strengths Can Improve their Health Care
December 27, 2012
Case Western Reserve University has been approved for a research award from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) to study ways that applying patients’ strengths can help enhance their health care and well-being. The project is part of a portfolio of patient-centered comparative clinical effectiveness research that addresses PCORI’s National Priorities for Research and Research Agenda.

Kurt C. Stange, MD, PhD, Professor of Family Medicine & Community Health at the School of Medicine will lead the research project, which departs from the typical care model focusing on patient challenges or weaknesses. Instead, researchers will explore how patient strengths can be integrated into assessment and treatment to improve patient outcomes. Strengths could include a patient's resilience or mindfulness, as well as relationships with family and friends and resources available within the community. [more]

Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine Researchers Discover New Molecule Linked to Late-Stage Breast Cancer
December 17, 2012
Researchers at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine have identified a molecule linked to more aggressive forms of breast cancer – a discovery that could point the way to potential cures.

Until this study, the ribonucleic acid (RNA) molecule called miR-181a had never before been tied to breast cancer metastasis. But when scientists found elevated levels of the molecule in late-stage breast cancer tissues, they in turn tested an inhibitor in mouse models. The approach not only prevented metastasis, but also extended the animals' lives. [more]

Dr. Neal Meropol Appointed to American Society of Clinical Oncology Board of Directors
December 10, 2012
The American Society of Clinical Oncology today announced the appointment of Neal J. Meropol, MD, to its 18-member Board of Directors. The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) is the world's leading professional organization representing physicians who care for people with cancer. [more]

Dr. Sanford Markowitz Recognized as a Top-Physician Scientist by Harrington Scholar-Innovator Grant
December 7, 2012
Dr. Sanford Markowitz was one of only ten recipients nation-wide of the inaugural Harrington Scholar-Innovator grants, given out by the Harrington Discovery Institute at UH Case Medical Center. This program is focused on supporting the nation's best physician-scientists and their efforts to accelerate promising drug discoveries into novel treatments for patients.

A competitive grant competition was held in May to identify the nation's most promising medical breakthroughs and to accelerate their entry into the clinic. Dr. Markowitz was selected for his research on Pulmonary HTN & Liver Regeneration: Discovery of a novel compound that increases tissue prostaglandins to treat multiple human diseases, including pulmonary hypertension, liver regeneration and cancer. [more]

Cleveland Clinic Study Shows Similar Quality-of-Life Outcomes After Robotic and Open Surgery to Treat Prostate Cancer
December 3, 2012
Cleveland Clinic researchers presented the results of a study at the Winter Meeting of the Society of Urologic Oncology. The study of more than 300 prostate cancer patients over a two-year period shows that urinary continence and sexual function scores are similar after robotic-assisted laparoscopic radical prostatectomy (RALRP) and open radical prostatectomy (ORP). Whether patients underwent RALRP or ORP at a high-volume hospital, they reported similar quality-of-life outcomes. [more]

Pathology’s David Wald honored with Ohio Cancer Research Associates award
December 3, 2012
Ohio Cancer Research Associates (OCRA) honored David Wald, an assistant professor in Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine’\'s Department of Pathology and a physician with University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center, with the 2012 "Seed Money Award" for his team's novel research in leukemia drug development. [more]

Jun Qin, PhD, recognized by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
November 29, 2012
Cleveland Clinic researcher Jun Qin, PhD, has been named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

As part of the Molecular Cardiology Department in the Lerner Research Institute, Qin was elected as an AAAS Fellow for exemplary contributions to the field of cell signaling. [more]

Stereotactic Radiosurgery Shows Promise for Kidney Cancer
October 31, 2012
A first-of-its-kind clinical trial conducted at University Hospitals (UH) Case Medical Center Seidman Cancer Center has shown encouraging results for the use of stereotactic radiosurgery to treat kidney cancer. This non-invasive treatment technique may represent a potential new non-surgical option for patients with this deadly disease who have limited treatment options. [more]

Cleveland Clinic Researchers Determine Role of Genetic Mutation in Development of Myelodysplastic Syndrome
October 18, 2012
Cleveland Clinic researchers have discovered the relationship between the SF3B1 gene and the formation of ring sideroblasts in the development of the blood cancer myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS).

Several genetic mutations are known to be present in MDS – a group of diseases in which the bone marrow does not make enough healthy blood cells. One type of mutation in the SF3B1 gene is responsible for the formation of ring sideroblasts and contributes to the development of MDS, according to new research from Ramon V. Tiu, MD, associate staff physician in the department of Translational Hematology & Oncology Research at Taussig Cancer Institute. The paper was published today in Blood. [more]

Dr. Afshin Dowlati Receives Prestigious NCI Award Honoring His Leadership in Oncology Research
October 17, 2012
The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has awarded Dr. Afshin Dowlati the Michaele C. Christian Oncology Development Lectureship and Award for 2012. The prestigious award recognizes the contributions of individuals to the development of novel agents for cancer therapy. This award, established to honor the 20-year NCI career of Dr. Michaele C. Christian, recognized Dr. Dowlati for his scientific accomplishments, program-building, and mentorship of the next generation of clinical researchers in oncology. [more]

Exposing cancer’s lethal couriers: Nanochains mark micrometastases for early diagnosis, treatment
September 27, 2012
Malignant cells that leave a primary tumor, travel the bloodstream and grow out of control in new locations cause the vast majority of cancer deaths. New nanotechnology developed at Case Western Reserve University detects these metastases in mouse models of breast cancer far earlier than current methods, a step toward earlier, life-saving diagnosis and treatment.

A team of scientists, engineers and students across five disciplines built nanochains that home in on metastases before they’ve grown into new tissues, and, through magnetic resonance imaging, detect their locations. [more]

Case CCC American Cancer Society Institutional Research Grant Pilot Awards
September 20, 2012

  • Medhat Askar, MD, PhD: The Impact of MHC Class I Chain-Related Gene A (MICA) Donor-Recipient Mismatches and MICA-129 Polymorphism On Unrelated Donor Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplants (HSCT) for Hematological Malignancies
  • Paolo Caimi, MD: Finding new predictive and prognostic factors in Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia: High - resolution flow cytometry analysis of CLL samples from the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group Randomized Clinical Trial E2997
  • Hannah Gilmore, MD: Ex vivo expansion of cancer stem cells (CSCs) in breast malignancies using mammospheres
  • Justin D. Lathia, PhD: Interrogating cell communication in the Glioblastoma cellular hierarchy
  • Mary M. Step, PhD: Feasibility of a Team Approach for Discussing Prognosis and Treatment Goals (T-PAT) During Advanced Breast Cancer
  • Ramon V. Tiu, MD: In-vitro and In-vivo effects of spliceosome inhibitors/ modulators, hypomethylating agents, growth factors and immunomodulatory agents in SF3B1 mutant primary bone marrow cells and in mouse models of Sf3b1
  • Jennifer Yu, MD, PhD: Hyperthermia Sensitizes Glioblastoma Initiating Cells to Radiation Via Downregulation of AKT

Cleveland Clinic Study Shows Vitamin E May Decrease Cancer Risk in Cowden Syndrome Patients
September 15, 2012
Cleveland Clinic researchers have discovered that vitamin E may prevent cancer in patients with an under-recognized genetic disorder.

Several genetic mutations are known to be present in Cowden Syndrome (CS) – a disease that predisposes individuals to several types of cancers, including breast and thyroid cancers. One type of mutation in the succinate dehydrogenase (SDH) genes may be responsible for cancer development, according to research by Charis Eng, MD, PhD, Hardis Chair and Director of the Genomic Medicine Institute and Director of its Center for Personalized Genetic Healthcare at Lerner Research Institute, published today in Clinical Cancer Research. [more]

Case Western Reserve Medal Awarded to Dr. Gerson
September 14, 2012
Dean Pamela B. Davis presented Stanton L. Gerson, MD, with the Case Western Reserve Medal for excellence in health science innovation on Thursday, September 13, 2012.

The Case Western Reserve Medal, the highest honor bestowed by the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, acknowledges distinguished medical leaders whose contributions are truly moving the needle in research, cures and care. Case Western Reserve Medalists have a passion for people and inspire others to "go to the moon" as truly forward-thinking and collaborative visionaries in medicine. [more]

Cleveland Clinic Researchers Introduce One-Step Technique to Analyze Gene Activity
September 13, 2012
Researchers at Cleveland Clinic's Taussig Cancer Institute have developed a drug screening method that dramatically simplifies the analysis of gene activity, according to research published today in PLoS ONE.

While conventional techniques to analyze gene activity require extraction of the genomic material from cells and multiple experimental steps, this new method uses unprocessed cells and yields answers in three hours about the activity of an investigated gene with one experimental step. The new technique can be applied to screening thousands of small molecules for their ability to regulate the activity of genes important for cancer cells. [more]

Lack of Sleep Found to be a New Risk Factor for Aggressive Breast Cancers
August 24, 2012
Lack of sleep is linked to more aggressive breast cancers, according to new findings published in the August issue of Breast Cancer Research and Treatment by physician-scientists from University Hospitals Case Medical Center's Seidman Cancer Center and Case Comprehensive Cancer Center at Case Western Reserve University.

Led by Cheryl Thompson, PhD, the study is the first-of-its-kind to show an association between insufficient sleep and biologically more aggressive tumors as well as likelihood of cancer recurrence. The research team analyzed medical records and survey responses from 412 post-menopausal breast cancer patients treated at UH Case Medical Center with Oncotype DX, a widely utilized test to guide treatment in early stage breast cancer by predicting likelihood of recurrence. [more]

New Oncogene Identified For Breast Cancer: Findings Have the Potential for New Therapies in Cancer Treatment
August 13, 2012
A team of researchers at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, led by Dr. Mark W. Jackson, have developed a novel method to identify genes that, when overexpressed, make normal cells behave like cancer cells. Using this method, the Jackson laboratory has identified a new oncogene, which is a gene that contributes to the development of cancer, named FAM83B.

"We made our discovery in a model of breast cancer," said Mark W. Jackson, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Pathology, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Case Comprehensive Cancer Center. "Using an unbiased screening approach, we let the biology of cancer formation tell us what genes are important and FAM83B was one of the genes that came out of our screen. When FAM83B was overproduced in normal breast cells, it transformed the normal cells, causing them to behave like breast cancer," stated Jackson. [more]

Cleveland Clinic Study Shows Prostate Cancer Screening Reduces Risk of Developing Advanced Cancer
August 2, 2012
A new Cleveland Clinic study suggests prostate cancer screening decreases a patient’s risk of developing metastatic disease, cancer that spreads beyond the prostate. Patients treated before routine prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screening was advocated had a 10-year metastases-free survival of 74 percent while those treated after routine PSA screening was advocated had an 82 percent 15-year metastases-free survival, according to the study published today in Urology. [more]

Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine Researchers Discover Gene that Permanently Stops Cancer Cell Proliferation
August 1, 2012
Researchers at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine have discovered a mutant form of the gene, Chk1, that when expressed in cancer cells, permanently stopped their proliferation and caused cell death without the addition of any chemotherapeutic drugs. This study illustrates an unprecedented finding, that artificially activating Chk1 alone is sufficient to kill cancer cells.

"We have identified a new direction for cancer therapy and the new direction is leading us to a reduction in toxicity in cancer therapy, compared with chemotherapy or radiation therapy,” said Dr. Zhang, assistant professor, Department of Pharmacology at the School of Medicine, and member of the university’s Case Comprehensive Cancer Center. “With this discovery, scientists could stop the proliferation of cancer cells, allowing physicians time to fix cells and genetic errors." [more]

Mukesh K. Jain, MD, to Lead the American Society for Clinical Investigation
July 20, 2012
Nationally renowned researcher Mukesh K. Jain, MD, of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine has been elected to serve as vice president of the American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI). In the subsequent two years he will serve as president elect and ultimately president, for one of the country’s oldest and most prestigious physician-scientist societies. [more]

Pediatrics Faculty Alex Huang Earns $200,000 Grant to Examine Brain Tumors
July 5, 2012
Alex Huang, associate professor of pediatrics, has been awarded a $200,000 grant from Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to finding cures for children with cancer.

The foundation awarded 48 grants totaling more than $4 million to doctors, researchers and medical and graduate students across the country. The awards were given in four types of grants: innovation, epidemiology, young investigator and pediatric oncology student training. [more]

Researchers Discover New Combination of Two Previously Approved FDA Drugs to Treat Lung Cancer
June 1, 2012
A team of researchers led by Dr. Goutham Narla at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in collaboration with scientists at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, have discovered a previously unrecognized signaling network disrupted in lung cancer that can be turned back on by a novel combination of two previously approved FDA drugs. The drug combination targets a pathway to treat advanced/late stage lung cancer. The work highlights how understanding the basic mechanisms regulating cancer development and progression can lead to new uses for existing FDA approved drugs in the treatment of cancer. [more]

Surgical Oncologist Presents Promising Data for Novel Pancreatic Cancer Vaccine
May 22, 2012
A novel pancreatic cancer vaccine shows promise in improving survival and represents a potential breakthrough in the treatment of this deadly disease. Jeffrey Hardacre, MD, of University Hospitals Case Medical Center’s Seidman Cancer Center and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine presented results of a Phase 2 clinical trial in patients with pancreatic cancer testing the Algenpantucel-L vaccine today at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Surgery of the Alimentary Tract, part of Digestive Disease Week in San Diego. [more]

Rom Leidner Receives Career Development Award
May 10, 2012
Rom Leidner, MD received a Career Development Award from the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the Conquer Cancer Foundation for his proposal, Molecular Cytology in Barrett's Esophagus. In this project Dr. Leidner is studying a novel, non-invasive method for detecting molecular changes associated with Barrett's esophagus and progression to cancer. Congratulations to Dr. Leidner and his mentor team, Drs. Sanford Markowitz, Amitabh Chak, Nathan Berger and Neal Meropol. [more]

Good Vibrations in Fight Against Cancer: Magnetic nanochain detonates chemo barrage inside tumors
April 18, 2012
Medicine-toting nanochains slip into tumors and explode a chemotherapy drug into hard-to-reach cores of cancer, engineers and scientists at Case Western Reserve University report.

In tests on rats and mice, the technology took out far more cancer cells, inhibited tumor growth better and extended life longer than traditional chemotherapy delivery. [more]

Breakthrough Discovery Unveils "Master Switches" in Colon Cancer
April 12, 2012
A team of researchers at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine have identified a new mechanism by which colon cancer develops. By focusing on segments of DNA located between genes, or so-called "junk DNA," the team has discovered a set of master switches, i.e., gene enhancer elements, that turn "on and off" key genes whose altered expression is defining for colon cancers. They have coined the term Variant Enhancer Loci or "VELs," to describe these master switches. [more]

Dr. Lyndsay Harris Appointed Co-Leader of the Breast Cancer Research Program in Development and Medical Director of the Breast Cancer Program at Seidman Cancer Center
March 19, 2012
Lyndsay Harris, MD, has been appointed Co-Leader of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center Breast Cancer Research Program in Development and Medical Director of the Breast Cancer Program at University Hospitals (UH) Case Medical Center Seidman Cancer Center. She is proposed for primary appointment as Professor of Medicine in the Division of Hematology and Oncology at UH Case Medical Center and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. [more]

University Hospitals Case Medical Center Cancer Researcher Helps Identify Genes Improving Survival with Higher Doses of Chemo in Leukemia Patients
March 15, 2012
New research published in the March 15 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine (embargoed 5 pm ET March 14) identifies gene mutations associated with improved overall survival with higher doses of chemotherapy for patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML).

According to one of the authors, Hillard M. Lazarus, MD, Director of Novel Cell Therapy at Seidman Cancer Center at University Hospitals Case Medical Center and Professor of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, the findings explain why some AML patients are more likely to benefit from higher does of the chemotherapy drug daunorubicin. [more]

Researchers Develop First "Theranostic" Treatment for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL)
March 7, 2012
A team of researchers at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine has developed the first "theranostic" agent for the treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). ALL is the most common type of childhood cancer diagnosed in approximately 5,000 new cases each year in the United States. The findings provide insight into pediatric oncology that specifically focuses on the development of "theranostic" agents– a treatment platform that combines a selective diagnostic test with targeted therapy based on the test results. [more]

Cellular Molecular Imaging of Cancer: Cancer Microenvironment Pilot Awards
February 20, 2012
The Case CCC awarded seed funding to three investigative interdisciplinary teams on the topic of Cellular Molecular Imaging of Cancer: Cancer Microenvironment.

Drug Quickly Reverses Alzheimer’s Symptoms in Mice
February 10, 2012
Neuroscientists at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine have made a dramatic breakthrough in their efforts to find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers’ findings, published in the journal Science, show that use of a drug in mice appears to quickly reverse the pathological, cognitive and memory deficits caused by the onset of Alzheimer’s. The results point to the significant potential that the medication, bexarotene, has to help the roughly 5.4 million Americans suffering from the progressive brain disease. [more]

Investigation Examined Toxicity for Three Treatments over 16-Year Period
January 31, 2012
Cleveland Clinic researchers today released a comprehensive analysis of more than 100,000 prostate cancer patients over a 16-year period that shows brachytherapy or prostatectomy are the least toxic among the three most commonly used methods to treat prostate cancer. The analysis indicates that patients who had brachytherapy or prostatectomy had lower long-term toxicities and treatment-related costs than external beam radiation therapy (EBRT). [more]

Cooke Honored with Professorship
January 18, 2012
Dr. Kenneth R. Cooke was recently honored as the Ohio Eminent Scholar for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine and the Dr. Leonard C. Hanna Professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. Dr. Cooke was recruited as the Ohio Eminent Scholar for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine in 2007 for his expertise in stem cell transplantation and the two most frequent and severe complications following this procedure: graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) and a frequently fatal form of lung disease known as idiopathic pneumonia syndrome (IPS). Dr Cooke also brings outstanding leadership to the University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital blood and marrow transplant (BMT) program.

UH Case Medical Center Publishes Study on Novel Treatment for Skin Lymphoma
January 16, 2012
Promising findings on a novel combination treatment approach for a chronic type of skin lymphoma are being published today (embargoed for 4 pm) in JAMA’s Archives of Dermatology by clinical researchers from Seidman Cancer Center at University Hospitals (UH) Case Medical Center and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.

The article outlines findings from a first-of-its-kind study showing that O6-benzylguanine is successful in treating cutaneous T-Cell lymphoma by enhancing the efficacy of topical chemotherapy (carmustine). [more]