Frontiers Summer 2013

Helping Ourselves

One of the most exciting projects recently launched and led by Ohio State’s cancer program is a statewide initiative to screen newly diagnosed colorectal cancer (CRC).

About 3 percent of CRC cases stem from Lynch syndrome (LS), which is characterized by inherited mutations in one of four genes for DNA-repair proteins. Each CRC patient with LS has, on average, three relatives with LS, heightening their risk for cancer. As you will read in “Going Statewide” in this issue of Frontiers, these screenings, embodied in the Ohio Colorectal Cancer Prevention Initiative (OCCPI), could save many lives by identifying those at risk so they can take precautionary measures.

Making this project even more extraordinary, it is supported in large part by funds from Pelotonia, an annual grassroots bicycle tour that raises millions of dollars for cancer research at Ohio State’s Comprehensive Cancer Center – James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James). In just four years, Pelotonia has become the nation’s largest single-event biking fundraiser as measured by the number of riders. Pelotonia 12 drew 6,212 riders from 43 states and three countries, as well as 3,141 virtual riders. Collectively these individuals, along with more than 80,000 donors, raised nearly $16.9 million, bringing the four-year total for this event to more than $42 million.

That’s the kind of financial firepower we need to help offset dwindling government allocations for cancer research so we can keep pursuing such innovative endeavors as the OCCPI – especially since the federal funding picture will likely remain dire for the near future.

Harold Varmus, MD, director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI), reported in May that the NCI budget for the current year will be about $4.78 billion, or $293 million less than in fiscal 2012 – a 5.8-percent reduction. He said this is attributable mainly to sequestration, the automatic across-the-board cuts in federal spending that began last March, along with further reductions mandated by the Department of Health and Human Services to support various Departmental obligations.

These cuts require us to do what we can to help ourselves. Pelotonia 13 will unfold from Aug. 9-11 in central Ohio, and I strongly encourage anyone who shares our vision of creating a cancer-free world to join us as a rider, virtual rider, donor or volunteer. More information is available at www.pelotonia.org. I hope to see you on the road.

A Game Changer: The Personal Cancer Genome and Precision Cancer Trials

Clinical trials traditionally have been designed to treat patients with a specific disease and to treat all patients on the trial the same way.

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Clinical Implications

A study led by researchers at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James) suggests an experimental drug can slow breast-cancer aggressiveness, reverse resistance to the drug fulvestrant and maybe improve efficacy of other breast-cancer drugs.

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Enzyme Inhibition

Researchers at the OSUCCC – James have identified an elusive anticancer property of vitamin E that has long been presumed to exist but difficult to find.

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Subset Signatures

A large-scale study of triple-negative breast cancer shows that small molecules called microRNAs can be used to define four subtypes of this aggressive malignancy.

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Re-Empowering P53

Researchers have designed a drug to block a newly discovered mechanism by which the human papillomavirus (HPV) causes head and neck cancer. Though more study is needed, they believe the new agent might offer a safer treatment for these tumors when combined with a tapered dose of standard chemotherapy.

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Molecular Might

OSUCCC – James researchers have identified molecules in the bloodstream that might accurately gauge the likelihood of radiation illness after exposure to ionizing radiation.

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Hematologic Malignancies Marker Unmasked

A study led by researchers at the OSUCCC – James has identified microRNA-155 as an independent prognostic marker and treatment target in patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) that has normal-looking chromosomes (i.e., cytogenetically normal AML, or CN-AML).

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Of Note

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

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The Most Deadly Skin Cancer

Melanoma is the most lethal form of skin cancer, and its incidence has been on the rise for three decades or more in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). And though it accounts for less than 5 percent of all skin-cancer cases, it is responsible for the vast majority of skin-cancer deaths.

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Going Statewide

For the past two years in August, Jenny and Ed Ostendorf have driven an hour and a half from Cincinnati to Columbus to rise early the next day and ride in Pelotonia, an annual cycling event to raise money for cancer research at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James).

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Synergistic Science

Women diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer face significant challenges. Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is characteristically more aggressive and has fewer treatment options than other types of breast cancer.

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Bench to Bedside: From the Laboratory to the Pharmacy

In multiple myeloma, one of the most effective therapies is the use of high-dose intravenous (IV) melphalan, which is given at either 140 or 200 mg/m2 as an IV bolus followed by autologous stem cell rescue 48 hours after infusion.

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Clinical Trials Office

The Clinical Trials Office (CTO) provides centralized administration of all clinical trials conducted within The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James).

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The New James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute

Patient care, education and research describe the three-part mission of any academic medical center. However, The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute combines these to achieve one goal: create a cancer-free world.

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Ohio State Cancer Leader Elected to AACR Board of Directors

Michael A. Caligiuri, MD, director of The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center and CEO of the James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James), is one of five scientists elected by members of the American Association for Cancer Research to serve on the AACR Board of Directors for the 2013 to 2016 term.

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