From Ideas to Impact
Discoveries Made With Pelotonia Support
Pelotonia-supported research at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James) can lead to important discoveries that might change patient care. Here are three examples of work by OSUCCC – James researchers that received crucial support from Pelotonia and will likely lead to improved care for cancer patients.
Learning What Works From Women Coping With Chemotherapy
A Pelotonia idea grant awarded to OSUCCC – James researcher Kristen Carpenter, PhD, is supporting a clinical trial to identify strategies used by women who cope well with harsh chemotherapy side effects during treatment. The trial is expected to start this summer.
“Historically, health psychology focused on the bad things that happen to people during cancer treatment; variables that make their outcomes worse,” says Carpenter, who is an assistant professor clinical of Psychiatry, of Psychology and of Obstetrics and Gynecology. “We want to learn what helps the folks who do well during treatment.
“Results from several studies in Pelotonia-supported research at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James) can lead to important discoveries that might change patient care. Here are three examples of work by OSUCCC – James researchers that received crucial support from Pelotonia and will likely lead to improved care for cancer patients. breast cancer have suggested that optimistic patients do a bit better through treatment,” Carpenter says. “Our goal is to investigate the role of optimism and other dispositional variables to ascertain what kinds of things they do that might facilitate better outcomes.”
In addition, she and her collaborators hope to gain insight into whether coping strategies that work well for an optimistic person work as well for those who are less optimistic.
“What excites me about this study is that we have an opportunity to look at what patients do naturally to help them through treatment,” she says. “We will look for patterns that we hope will help us develop more individualized, targeted interventions down the line.”
The researchers will assess patients before they begin chemotherapy, and then several times during treatment to learn what symptoms they experienced and how they coped with them.
In one phase of the study, they will have participants complete a daily “diary” of their symptoms and the strategies they might be using to make themselves feel better, distract themselves, or otherwise offset the problem. “The closer we act to the time when something occurs, the more accurate patient reports are,” she says.
The study will assess participants’ personality, their tendency toward optimism and their general coping style, as well as the presence of depression, anxiety and stress, if any.
“We want to learn what strategies work best and for whom, and how we can develop an intervention that makes sense in the long run,” Carpenter says. “We want to translate that into something that will foster better treatment outcomes for patients.”
Androgen Receptor Activates Different Genes When Bound to Antihormone Drugs
A 2011 Pelotonia idea grant helped OSUCCC – James researcher Qianben Wang, PhD, associate professor of Molecular Virology, Immunology and Medical Genetics and a member of the Molecular Carcinogenesis and Chemoprevention Program, lead research that produced a surprising finding about a key receptor for testosterone, a hormone that drives prostate cancer development and progression.
That key molecule in prostate cancer cells is called the androgen receptor (AR). When testosterone activates that receptor, it causes the receptor to activate a particular set of genes.
However, the study published in 2015 by Wang and his colleagues showed for the first time that when the receptor binds with certain drugs used to treat prostate cancer (called bicalutamide and enzalutamide), it activates a completely different set of genes, including some that promote cancer.
The findings provide new insights into AR biology and suggest a novel strategy for treating prostate cancer, which is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in men. An estimated 220,800 new cases are expected in the United States in 2015, along with 27,540 deaths from the disease.
Although initially responsive to antiandrogen drugs (including bicalutamide and enzalutamide), prostate cancer ultimately progresses to a lethal, treatment-resistant state that is currently incurable.
“Our findings suggest that when antiandrogen drugs are used to treat prostate cancer, the treatment should also include agents that inhibit the cancer-causing genes activated by the antiandrogen,” Wang says.
Wang and first author Zhong Chen, a research scientist at the OSUCCC – James, developed most of the study’s scientific concepts.
An Immune Therapy for Multiple Myeloma
Multiple myeloma is an incurable cancer that forms in white blood cells that produce antibodies. It is expected to affect about 26,000 Americans in 2015, with more than 11,000 dying of the disease.
OSUCCC – James researcher Jianhua Yu, PhD, assistant professor of Medicine and a member of the OSUCCC – James Leukemia Research Program, and multiple myeloma specialist Craig Hofmeister, MD, assistant professor of Medicine and a member of the OSUCCC – James Translational Therapeutics Program, used a Pelotonia idea grant to help develop a way to harness the immune system for treating the disease.
“Despite current drugs and the use of bone marrow transplantation, almost all myeloma patients eventually relapse,” says Hofmeister. “Our work presents a novel strategy for treating multiple myeloma, and we hope to bring it to patients as part of a phase I clinical trial as soon as possible.”
The potential treatment involves altering cancer-killing immune cells called natural killer (NK) cells, and T lymphocytes, or T cells. The researchers modified the cells so that they homed in on a target molecule called CS1, which is found on nearly all myeloma cells. The modified NK and T cells then killed the myeloma cells in laboratory tests. When the researchers injected the modified cells into an animal model, they again killed human myeloma cells.
“Our study shows that we can modify these immune cells to target CS1, and that the modified cells efficiently destroy human myeloma cells,” Yu says.
An important potential advantage to this approach, Yu notes, is that if the therapeutic T cells replicate in the body, they might also prevent the tumor from recurring for a prolonged period.
The researchers published their findings in the journal Clinical Cancer Research.