Cancer Research Blog

Bringing You the Latest in the Search For a Cure

Month: March 2016

The CTD2 Dashboard: A Platform to Explore Evidence-based Observations

The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), TARGET, and other large-scale sequencing projects such as the International Cancer Genome Consortium (ICGC), have catalogued a vast number of genetic abnormalities in cancer. However, identifying these abnormalities is just one part of the puzzle.

Next, cancer researchers need to determine which changes drive cancer development, metastasis, and drug resistance, and how this information can be used to improve cancer care and early detection. To help researchers translate genomics into therapies, The Cancer Target Discovery and Development (CTD2) Network functionally validates genomic research and displays the resulting evidence-based conclusions on the CTD2 Dashboard, an interactive web interface for exploring cancer biology.

Fueling Basic Discovery: NCI’s Cooperative Human Tissue Network

Human biospecimens, as any cancer researcher will tell you, are a foundational resource in basic and clinical cancer research. And with the launch last year of President Obama’s Precision Medicine Initiative and his announcement in January about the launch of the National Cancer Moonshot Initiative, NCI-supported biospecimen programs have taken on renewed importance.

Quality biospecimens are critical to achieving the type of progress envisioned by both of these initiatives, whether it’s for conducting genomic analyses that will allow us to better understand cancer progression, discovering and validating biomarkers that can predict prognosis or response to therapy, or identifying new targets for therapy.

HPV Infections Targeted by Vaccine Decrease in U.S.

Infection with human papillomavirus  (HPV) types targeted by the quadrivalent HPV vaccine has declined by nearly two-thirds among teenage girls since HPV vaccination was recommended in the United States, according to new study results. The study also is the first to show a reduction in national prevalence of these four HPV types among U.S. women in their early twenties since the vaccine was introduced.

In the United States, routine vaccination against HPV, which causes virtually all cervical cancers and is transmitted through sexual contact, has been recommended since mid-2006 for 11- to 12-year old girls and for females up to age 26 who have not previously been vaccinated. HPV vaccination has been recommended for males since 2011.

Novel Strategy Isolates Immune Cells in the Blood that Recognize Melanoma

Patients with metastatic melanoma have experienced dramatic tumor regressions in early clinical trials of adoptive cell transfer—a technique in which immune cells are collected from patients, expanded in the laboratory, and infused back into patients to attack the cancer. However, to date, these immune cells have been harvested only from solid tumor tissue, a process that requires invasive surgery and is not always possible.

Now, scientists in NCI’s Center for Cancer Research (CCR) have developed a novel strategy for identifying tumor-reactive and mutation-specific immune cells circulating in the blood of patients with melanoma.

Keeping Pace: How New Data Can Affect Ongoing Clinical Trials

Phase III cancer clinical trials almost always compare a new treatment with the existing standard of care. With science moving so rapidly, research results sometimes outrace a trial’s design and the trial has to be recalibrated to include newer treatments.

One current example of this need for trial redesign is a recently opened NCI-sponsored clinical trial led by the ECOG-ACRIN Cancer Research Group, called EA1131, for women with triple-negative breast cancer, a subtype of breast cancer that is notoriously difficult to treat. Women in the trial must have had chemotherapy before surgery—known as neoadjuvant chemotherapy—but still have some evidence of cancer in their breast or lymph nodes at the time of surgery (residual disease). Under the trial’s initial design, after surgery, patients were to be randomly assigned to receive either adjuvant therapy with a platinum chemotherapy drug or no additional therapy, which was the standard of care when the trial opened in May 2015.

High-Magnification Microscopy Visualizes Tumor Blood Vessels in Real Time

Researchers have adapted a high-magnification technique for viewing body structures at the cellular level so that they can visualize blood vessels in human tumors in real time.

Using the technique, called intravital microscopy (IVM), they found that approximately half of blood vessels in tumors in patients with melanoma had no blood flow and that tumor blood vessels were much larger than would have been anticipated from prior studies.

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