Frontiers Spring 2012

Beating Cancer

The ultimate solution to beating cancer would be to avoid it altogether. We can do that to a large degree through lifestyle changes, by minimizing environmental risks and through research that enables us to devise evidence-based interventions.

At The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James), we have a strong group of cancer prevention and control investigators who are developing innovative ways to help more people guard against primary and recurrent cancer.

“The Power of Prevention” in this issue of Frontiers highlights some of our efforts to halt the progression of precancerous lesions in the mouth, prevent or slow prostate-cancer recurrence, and reduce obesity and cancer risk through diet and lifestyle changes.

Of course, people can still develop cancer even when they do all they can to reduce their risk, so we must keep searching for more effective therapies and surgical procedures to help patients overcome their illness and regain an acceptable quality of life – especially when cancer occurs in anatomic sites that are difficult to treat, such as bone.

This issue’s cover story, titled “Saving Life And Limb,” details complex surgeries performed at the OSUCCC – James by one of the most skilled sarcoma teams in the nation, a team that regularly accepts supremely difficult cases.

You can also read in this issue about our collaborative work with in silico drug design, a discipline that uses computers and computation to discover and optimize targeted anticancer agents, sometimes atom by atom.

As science and technology advance, so do our approaches to preventing and treating cancer. This new issue of Frontiers offers a glimpse of how progress against cancer is unfolding at Ohio State. I think you will find it interesting… and hopeful.

Radiation Therapy for Breast Cancer

By 2003, gene expression and profile studies were showing that breast cancer – previously regarded as a single disease – had four or five subtypes.

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Cellular Collaboration

Researchers at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James) have discovered how normal cells within tumors can fuel tumor growth.

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Viral Analysis

Research at the OSUCCC – James shows that men are three times more likely to have an oral human papillomavirus (HPV) infection than women – findings that help explain why HPV-related oral cancers are three times more common in men than women.

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Traveling Genes

The many short pieces of mobile DNA that exist in the genome can contribute to significant biological differences between lineages of mice, a study at the OSUCCC – James has shown.

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Sensible Antisense

Hepatocellular carcinoma, or liver cancer, kills an estimated 549,000 people annually worldwide. Recent findings by researchers at the OSUCCC – James and the Mayo Clinic show that it is possible to target and block a microRNA that is important in the disease, perhaps offering a new therapy for the malignancy.

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Menacing Marker

Older patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and normal-looking chromosomes in their cancer cells have a higher risk of recurrence if they have mutations in the ASXL1 gene, according to a study by OSUCCC – James researchers.

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Beyond the Thymus

T lymphocytes (T cells) have been thought to develop only in the thymus, but a study led by OSUCCC – James researchers suggests they can also develop in human tonsils.

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Of Note

A listing of the recent recognitions of OSUCCC – James physicians and researchers.

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Saving Life and Limb

When orthopaedic oncologist Joel Mayerson, MD, and a team of surgeons resected the softball-sized chondrosarcoma – a tumor of cartilage that does not respond to any known cancer treatment other than surgical removal “en bloc” – it left a gaping hole where the patient’s lower spine and left leg connected to his pelvis.

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The Power of Prevention

“You are the answer to cancer,” says Electra Paskett, PhD, MSPH, a cancer prevention and control expert at The Ohio State University. A newly released federal report on cancer status in the United States supports her contention.

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Drug Design in silico

The enzyme PRMT5 is a key regulator of cell growth and proliferation during embryonic development. When the gene’s assigned task is over, the cell reduces its expression, and the enzyme’s levels become barely detectable.

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Bench to Bedside: From the Laboratory to the Pharmacy

CLL, the most common leukemia diagnosed in Western countries, is characterized by an accumulation of leukemic cells that occurs in part because the cells receive survival signals from various receptors activated by ligands.

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When Behavior Matters

The Behavioral Measurement Shared Resource (BMSR) provides OSUCCC – James investigators with a continuum of services that includes planning and developing research proposals and projects, data collection and behavioral data interpretation to help them integrate behavioral research into their studies.

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Experimental Therapeutics Program Has Space to Call Its Own

The burgeoning OSUCCC – James efforts in drug discovery and design took a significant step forward in May when investigators in the cancer center’s Experimental Therapeutics Program began occupying new space on the fourth floor of the 12th Avenue Biomedical Research Tower.

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Need to Know

Maura L. Gillison, MD, PhD, professor of Medicine, of Epidemiology and of Otolaryngology at the OSUCCC – James, has received the 36th Annual AACR Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Memorial Award from the American Association for Cancer Research.

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