April 16, 2018:

Every month, we huddle for another edition of Across the Consortium to recap the progress of our member institutions. Here are this month’s hand-picked highlights from across the consortium! Be inspired as you catch all the action. 

University of Illinois Cancer Center

When a serious disease or illness arises, treating the condition is just one aspect of caring for the patient. By identifying and treating the psychosocial, social, and spiritual issues related to a disease — what is called “supportive care” — providers are able to better connect with patients and work to deliver better outcomes.

“Once I become aware of a patient’s concerns, it allows us to try to help them — whether it’s transportation, paying for medication, treating anxiety/depression, or something else,” Dr. Lawrence Feldman, a medical oncologist at UI Health, wrote in an article, “Supportive Oncology—A Collaborative & Multidisciplinary Approach,” recently published in Oncology Times.

Read more.

Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center

Enrollment has begun at the IU Simon Cancer Center for a phase I clinical study of a drug designed to have an anti-cancer affect while protecting against chemotherapy-induced peripheral nerve damage, a common side effect when patients are exposed to certain types of chemotherapy.

The clinical study of the orally-administered drug, APX3330, is the first to explore its use in patients with advanced cancer. Preclinical data indicates that APX3330 inhibits the cancer-promoting activity of a dual function protein called APE1/Ref-1 without interfering with the nerve cell protection activity of the protein.

Read more.

University of Iowa Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center

Sarcoma patients treated at high-volume medical centers may have higher survival rates than those treated at low-volume centers, according to a new analysis of cancer-treatment data by a team of University of Iowa researchers.

The study, published April 6 in the Journal of Surgical Oncology, used data from the National Cancer Database (NCDB) to examine the effects of volume—the number of sarcoma patients treated at a hospital—on the outcomes of patients treated for non-metastatic soft tissue sarcoma of the upper and lower extremity.

Read more.

University of Michigan Rogel Cancer Center

In the wrestling match with cancer, chemoimmunotherapy is the new strong arm, and it is building muscle with a nanodisc disguised as good cholesterol.

Researchers at the University of Michigan Rogel Cancer Center designed this new delivery system — a drug hidden in a nanodisc — to increase the number of patients who can be treated successfully with cancer immunotherapy drugs.

The nanodisc is made of a synthetic version of high density lipoprotein (HDL), also known as “good cholesterol.” Researchers attached doxorubicin, a widely used chemotherapy drug, to the nanodisc.

Read more.

Michigan State University Breslin Cancer Center

Michigan State University scientists are testing a promising drug that may stop a gene associated with obesity from triggering breast and lung cancer, as well as prevent these cancers from growing.

These findings are based on two studies featured in the latest issue of Cancer Prevention Research.

The first was a preclinical study, led by Karen Liby, an associate professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology. Results showed that the drug, I-BET-762, is showing signs of significantly delaying the development of existing breast and lung cancers by zeroing in on how a cancerous gene, called c-Myc, acts.

Read more.

Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota

In the Land of 10,000 Lakes, cancer—Minnesota’s leading cause of death—will affect half of us directly and the rest of us through people we know and love.

Minnesota Masonic Charities wants to change those odds by accelerating its support of promising research at the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota that explores precisely targeted approaches to cancer prevention and treatment.

Many advances in cancer research now require molecular techniques that have the potential to significantly improve how cancer is detected and treated. Genetic information may hold the keys to unlocking its many mysteries: its causes, its growth, and its persistence in certain people.

Read more.

Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center (University of Nebraska)

Most people know doctors recommend a colonoscopy at age 50 to screen for colorectal cancers. What they might not realize is that earlier screening may be necessary if they have a family history of colorectal cancer or other diseases.

Read more.

Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University

Distance wasn’t going to keep Donna Jones from this Omaha hospital bed. The Sundance, Wyoming, woman traveled 11-hours to be first in line to see the doctors.

“I could see the lymph nodes growing,” Donna told 6 News. “This is the last option.”

In a year, the Jones family ranch turns 101. Donna doesn’t turn 60 until June. So why have nurses wished her a happy birthday? Simply put, she’s a milestone.

Three weeks ago the medical team at Nebraska Medicine extracted her T-cells from her blood. The cells are re-engineered to identify the cancer cells and kill them. The process is called CAR T-Cell Therapy.

Read more.

Penn State Cancer Institute

Most people know doctors recommend a colonoscopy at age 50 to screen for colorectal cancers. What they might not realize is that earlier screening may be necessary if they have a family history of colorectal cancer or other diseases.

“A significant portion of the population does have those risk factors,” said Dr. Walter Koltun, chief of colon and rectal surgery at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. “And their risk goes up significantly depending on who has been affected.”

Those who have a first-degree relative – parent, sibling or child – who has had colon or rectal cancer are most at risk for developing the disease themselves. If more than one family member has had colorectal cancer, the risk increases to between three and 12 times that of the average person.

Read more.

Purdue University Center for Cancer Research

The 11th annual Purdue Challenge 5K run/walk, which benefits the Purdue University Center for Cancer Research, will begin at 8:30 a.m. on April 14.

The race, which is open to the public, begins at the north end of Ross-Ade Stadium and ends in the south end zone of the football field. Registration is $30. Participants may register online or in person at the north end of Ross-Ade from 4-6:30 p.m. April 13, or from 7-8 a.m. April 14, the day of the race. Participants also may opt to “Sleep-in for The Challenge,” or be a team member and create a personalized fundraising page without running in the race.

The Challenge attracts more than 800 participants annually. Since 2008, it has raised more than $715,000 toward cancer research and affords the opportunity to present Purdue researchers with a grant that allows them to make an impact through innovation and discovery.

Read more.

Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey

With an aim to propel precision medicine and other cutting-edge research to better inform treatment decisions for the youngest of patients, nationally distinguished pediatric hematology/oncology leader Peter D. Cole, MD, has been named the Chief of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey and Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and the proposed Embrace Kids Foundation Chair in Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, which was officially established at today’s Rutgers Board of Governors meeting. 

Dr. Cole was recently named as professor and chief of the Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. He is currently an associate professor of pediatrics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, The Children’s Hospital at Montefiore in New York. Long supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute and other philanthropic entities, Cole is an active clinical researcher having developed pediatric cancer clinical trial protocols in conjunction with the national cooperative organization Children’s Oncology Group and other collaborators.

Read more.

University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center

Have you ever wondered how a doctor decides which chemotherapy drugs to give to a cancer patient? Mark Burkard, MD, PhD, has an answer:

“There’s usually a list of drugs that have worked for that type of cancer in the past and the doctor chooses the one that is likely most effective and safest for the patient,” said Burkard, a medical oncologist and researcher at the UW Carbone Cancer Center. “Often, patients will get multiple drugs from that list, one after another, until the doctor finds one that works.”

This process can be tedious, time-consuming, and cause unnecessary side effects in patients.

Burkard and his colleagues are working hard to improve this process. With funding from Garding Against Cancer, Burkard is conducting a clinical trial to find better ways to predict which drugs will work best for which patients.

Read more.

Information for this story was compiled from Big Ten CRC member websites, news releases, and social media.

About the Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium: The Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium was created in 2013 to transform the conduct of cancer research through collaborative, hypothesis-driven, highly translational oncology trials that leverage the scientific and clinical expertise of Big Ten universities. The goal of the Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium is to create a unique team-research culture to drive science rapidly from ideas to new approaches to cancer treatment. Within this innovative environment, today’s research leaders collaborate with and mentor the research leaders of tomorrow with the unified goal of improving the lives of all patients with cancer.

About the Big Ten Conference: The Big Ten Conference is an association of world-class universities whose member institutions share a common mission of research, graduate, professional and undergraduate teaching and public service. Founded in 1896, the Big Ten has sustained a comprehensive set of shared practices and policies that enforce the priority of academics in the lives of students competing in intercollegiate athletics and emphasize the values of integrity, fairness and competitiveness. The broad-based programs of the 14 Big Ten institutions will provide over $200 million in direct financial support to almost 9,500 students for more than 11,000 participation opportunities on 350 teams in 42 different sports. The Big Ten sponsors 28 official conference sports, 14 for men and 14 for women, including the addition of men’s ice hockey and men’s and women’s lacrosse since 2013. For more information, visit www.bigten.org.