Cancer Research Blog

Bringing You the Latest in the Search For a Cure

Month: July 2015

NCI Launches Competition to Spur Research on Breast Cancer Genomics, Disease Risk

Last month, NCI launched a competition to spur research in an area of great public health interest: the genomic basis of breast cancer and breast cancer risk.

Researchers and research groups that participate in the competition, called “Up for A Challenge (U4C)—Stimulating Innovation in Breast Cancer Genetic Epidemiology,” can earn up to $50,000 in prizes. Participants must use data from genome-wide association studies (GWAS), and prizes will be awarded for producing research findings that help to identify novel molecular pathways involved in breast cancer susceptibility.

Cancer Currents Now Available in Spanish

For many, the word “cancer” requires no translation. A diagnosis—regardless of what language carries the message—can be devastating and the need for accurate information immediate.

As a Latina who has worked in cancer communications for more than 25 years—with colleagues, journalists, researchers, and health care professionals around the world—I know first-hand the importance of providing accurate information about cancer and cancer research in Spanish. After all, it is the predominant language in more than 36 million American homes, and over 400 million people around the world count Spanish as their first language.  

Fostering Cooperation in Cancer Research

A significant step toward strengthening US-India relations was taken on Thursday, June 25, 2015 when a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between our governments to foster cooperation in cancer research.  This MoU was signed between the US National Cancer Institute and three agencies of the Indian government – the Department of Biotechnology, the Indian Council of Medical Research and the Indian National Cancer Institute, a part of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences. Representatives from these various agencies were the signatories from the Government of India and US envoy to India, Ambassador R.K. Verma, signed on behalf of the US government.

This signing is a key milestone in the Center for Global Health’s (CGH) engagement with partners in in cancer research in India.  Since the India office of CGH was opened in 2011, under the leadership of Dr. Preetha Rajaraman, we have established partnerships with several agencies of the Indian government engaged in cancer research, conducted joint workshops, and published collaborative papers on cancer control and implementation.  

Healthy Border 2020 Embassy Launch

The United States-México border region constitutes an area defined as 62 miles north and south of the United States-México border, approximately 2000 miles in length, and is considered the largest border region in the world. It includes 80 towns (municipios) in six Mexican states and 48 counties in four U.S. states. It is also a very challenging place when it comes to global health needs, as it  includes both non-communicable (particularly breast & cervical cancer, diabetes, etc) and infectious diseases, as well as mental, child, and reproductive health issues and a high incidence of trauma deaths and violence. In an attempt to address these pressing bilateral health issues, the U.S.-Mexico Border Health Commission launched the Healthy Border 2020 at the Mexican Embassy in the United States on June 24, 2015. This new initiative aims to strengthening what was accomplished on the previous plan of action entitled Healthy Border 2010.

The launch of Healthy Border 2020 was held at the Embassy of Mexico in Washington DC and was attended, among many others, by Ambassador Jimmy Kolker, Assistant Secretary for Global Affairs at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), the Mexican Ambassador to the U.S., the Secretary of Health from New Mexico, Secretaries of Health from four Mexican states, as well as other HHS senior officers and senior representatives from the Mexican Secretariat of Health.  During the launch of Healthy Border 2020, the objectives, plan of action, and priorities for the Healthy Border 2020 were described, including a roadmap for its implementation in both countries.

Next Round of Grant Solicitations for Provocative Questions Announced

NCI recently issued a new solicitation for research proposals under the Provocative Questions (PQ) Initiative, a program aimed at promoting cancer-related research on important yet understudied areas or research questions that have proven difficult to address.

The most recent PQ Requests for Applications (RFAs)—RFA-CA-15-008 and RFA-CA-15-009—include 12 questions. Over the next 2 years, NCI will dedicate up to approximately $40 million as part of the initiative to support up to 40 R01 grants and up to 20 R21 grants that address these new questions.

Test May Identify Poor Prognosis for Some Patients with Lung Cancer

A panel of three genetic markers may help to identify patients with early-stage lung cancer who have a very strong likelihood of their disease returning after surgery, according to findings from a study by NCI researchers.

In the retrospective study, patients with stage I lung cancer (adenocarcinoma) whose tumors expressed all three markers were far more likely to die from their cancer or to have a recurrence than patients whose tumors did not express these markers.

Pancreatic Cancer Study Finds Possible Diagnostic Marker in Blood

Researchers have identified a potential biological marker for detecting pancreatic cancer in its early stages—a protein attached to vesicles that circulate in blood. The findings appeared June 24 in Nature.

All cells—including cancer cells—release extracellular vesicles, or exosomes, which contain proteins, DNA, and RNA. These nano-sized sacs may enter the bloodstream and travel around the body, interacting with other cells.

Setting the Course: Genomics Workshop on Childhood Cancers Identifies Research Opportunities

Our understanding of the genetic changes underlying cancers in children has increased tremendously in the past decade, but there are still critical gaps in our knowledge. Recognizing the importance of closing these knowledge gaps to improve the care of young patients with cancer, NCI recently convened a workshop to discuss the status of genomic characterization for childhood cancers and to identify opportunities for future research.

The meeting, held February 4-5, 2015, brought together several dozen experts, including researchers and clinicians, members of regulatory agencies, and advocates for research on childhood cancers. Over the course of two days, we identified a number of areas for which more research is needed and also identified opportunities to use genomic approaches to gain new insights into childhood cancers.

Oncolytic Virus Therapy Shows Benefit in Patients with Melanoma

In a phase III clinical trial, an investigational virus-based immunotherapy, talimogene laherparepvec (T-VEC), significantly increased the durable response rate in patients with metastatic melanoma compared with granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF).

The treatment appears to work by directly killing cancer cells and stimulating an immune response against tumors, the trial investigators believe. Findings from the trial were published May 26 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Program Spotlight: 2015 Scientific Poster Winners at CRCHD Professional Development Workshop

As part of its 2015 Professional Development Workshop, CRCHD invited CURE scholars, trainees, and investigators to participate in a competitive, interactive poster session – providing participants with an opportunity to present their research findings and plans for future research. Poster session participants used the opportunity to highlight their research, and also, to network with their peers and CRCHD staff, including the poster judges.

Third place winner, Dr. Whitney Robinson said, “One of the best parts of the poster competition was talking to other presenters about their on-going work. In addition, the poster judges and other attendees made insightful observations reinforcing the next steps of my research.”

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