April 22, 2020:

In this month’s Across the Consortium, the Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium (Big Ten CRC) highlights the tireless work of researchers to develop new therapies to kill cancer. Despite the difficult times our world is facing, we are grateful that our member institutions are finding creative ways to continue the fight against cancer.

University of Illinois Cancer Center

Ajay Maker, MD, has received the prestigious R37 MERIT (Method to Extend Research in Time) award from the National Cancer Institute to develop new immunotherapies that can be used to treat colon cancer and colorectal liver metastases, the second leading cancer killer in the United States.
Read more.

Cancer Center at Illinois

Graphene-based biosensors could usher in an era of liquid biopsy, detecting DNA cancer markers circulating in a patient’s blood or serum. But current designs need a lot of DNA. In a new study, crumpling graphene makes it more than ten thousand times more sensitive to DNA by creating electrical “hot spots,” researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found.
Read more.

Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center

At Indiana University School of Medicine, scientists are searching for ways to halt cancer in its tracks. Whether finding new targets for treatment, discovering pathways to prevention or testing new therapeutics, three researchers at the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Herman B Wells Center for Pediatric Research are on the hunt for improved approaches to the most common type of cancer in children: leukemia.
Read more.

University of Iowa Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center

Did you know that the University of Iowa Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center is the only NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center in Iowa? Holden provides Iowans with access to a range of cancer treatment opportunities that few other U.S. cancer centers can offer, including a vast array of clinical trials of some of the newest therapies.
Read more.

University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center

Using a combination of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to target and sample suspicious prostate tissue, along with a standard prostate biopsy, is significantly more likely to detect the most aggressive prostate cancers than standard biopsy alone. This finding, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, could allow a higher percentage of prostate cancer patients to avoid unnecessary treatment for slow-growing prostate cancers that are not likely to spread. The new study was conducted by National Cancer Institute (NCI) researchers including one who is now at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM).
Read more.

University of Michigan Rogel Cancer Center

A new study published in the journal Science suggests a compound in development for a rare kidney stone disease may have potential against pancreatic cancer. The compound starves tumors of an amino acid, cysteine, which was found to be critical to the survival of pancreatic cancer cells.
Read more.

Michigan State University Breslin Cancer Center

The foundation for one of the most successful modern treatments of cancer was first discovered in a Michigan State University lab in the mid-1960s. As lab supervisor, MSU microbiologist and researcher Loretta VanCamp played a critical role in the breakthrough development of the world’s leading anti-cancer drugs cisplatin and carboplatin alongside MSU biophysicist Barnett Rosenberg and then-graduate student Thomas Krigas.
Read more.

Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota

Jenny Poynter, MPH, PhD, and Daniel Harki, PhD, have been appointed to the leadership team of the Twin Cities’ only National Cancer Institute (NCI) designated comprehensive cancer center. Dr. Poynter will serve as the Masonic Cancer Center’s first Associate Director for Community Outreach and Engagement. Dr. Harki will become co-leader of the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota’s Cellular Mechanisms Program.
Read more.

Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center (University of Nebraska)

Babu Guda, PhD, professor and vice chair for bioinformatics research and training in the UNMC Department of Genetics, Cell Biology and Anatomy in the College of Medicine, has been appointed assistant dean for research development. In this capacity he will facilitate the integration of genomic data in research leading to applications in clinical practice; link to other UNMC, Nebraska Medicine and national efforts to develop workable integrated platforms; and identify UNMC College of Medicine needs for precision medicine and other bioinformatic and computational research areas.
Read more.

Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University

A new Northwestern Medicine study has found that cells with high numbers of centrioles migrate more quickly through layers of tissue, a process known as radial intercalation. Many late-stage metastatic cancers have cells with abnormally high centriole counts, which means this process may represent an adaptation on the part of cancers in order to better proliferate, according to Brian Mitchell, PhD, associate professor of cell and developmental biology and senior author of the study published in Current Biology.
Read more.

The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute

Few cancer patients have access to registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs), despite an estimated 80% of patients becoming malnourished at some point during cancer therapy. Cancer nutrition experts at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James) say this represents a significant barrier to treatment tolerance, effectiveness, progression and overall survival that prompts a need for urgent action to better integrate medical nutrition therapy into standard-of-care guidelines for cancer patients.
Read more.

Penn State Cancer Institute

For more than 40 years, scientists have hypothesized the existence of enzyme clusters, or “metabolons,” in facilitating various processes within cells. Using a novel imaging technology combined with mass spectrometry, researchers at Penn State, for the first time, have directly observed functional metabolons involved in generating purines, the most abundant cellular metabolites. The findings could lead to the development of novel therapeutic strategies that disrupt the progression of cancer.
Read more.

Purdue University Center for Cancer Research

A new tool for medical professionals may help shed more light on tumors in the body and how the brain operates. Purdue University researchers created technology that uses optical imaging to better help surgeons map out tumors in the body and help them understand how certain diseases affect activity in the brain. The work is published in the journal IEEE Transactions on Medical Imaging.
Read more.

Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey

Research from investigators at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey shows that a cellular process known as autophagy promotes survival in mouse models by suppressing oxidative stress and a tumor suppressor known as p53. Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey Deputy Director, Chief Scientific Officer, and Associate Director for Basic Research Eileen P. White, PhD, who is a distinguished professor of molecular biology and biochemistry in the School of Arts and Sciences at Rutgers University, is the senior author of the work published March 19 online ahead of print in Genes & Development (DOI: 10.1101/gad.335570.119). She shares more about the research.
Read more.

University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center

There’s never a great time to be dealing with cancer. Add an active pandemic to the mix, and things get even tougher. COVID-19 has upended the way that medical facilities and hospitals operate, with many being forced to put new restrictions in place to prevent the spread of the virus. That’s especially true of cancer clinics, as patients are at a higher-risk for COVID-19 infection, because their immune systems are often weakened by cancer and its treatments. The emotional impact this has had on patients has not gone unnoticed by staff.
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 more than 9,800 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.