Feb. 28, 2018:

Transforming the conduct of cancer research is not just a goal of Big Ten CRC members; it is reality. From zebrafish to cell phones, and from nanomedicine to “supportive oncology,”  the Big Ten CRC’s unique team-research culture is driving science rapidly from ideas to new approaches to cancer treatment. See for yourself in a quick trip Across the Consortium!

University of Illinois Cancer Center

Greg Calip knows the medical histories of thousands of patients but he’s never treated any.

A biostatistician and epidemiologist, Calip, a member of the University of Illinois Cancer Center and assistant professor of pharmacy systems, outcomes and policy in the UIC College of Pharmacy, is conducting research on how to prevent venous thromboembolism in patients suffering from multiple myeloma.

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Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center

When a person is diagnosed with cancer, his or her doctor often focuses on the cancer itself and curing or at least knocking back the disease. But a cancer diagnosis can lead to many other challenges, from dealing with side effects of the therapy to paying medical bills to handling the emotional and psychological toll of the disease.

A $14 million gift from the Walther Cancer Foundation will allow the Indiana University School of Medicine to establish a program in so-called supportive oncology, to help patients navigate these challenges and more. The gift is thought to be the largest in the country to support such a program.

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University of Iowa Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center

University of Iowa investigators are beginning a yearlong study to better understand why HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine coverage in rural areas of the state lags behind other adolescent immunizations.

The study, funded by the National Cancer Institute through the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center, will be led by a team from Holden. Natoshia Askelson, assistant professor of community and behavioral health in the UI College of Public Health, is the project director. Other partners include the Iowa Primary Care Association, Iowa Department of Public Health, American Cancer Society, Iowa Cancer Consortium, and local public health agencies.

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University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center

Customized dosing of a cancer-preventive agent can significantly reduce a compound known to trigger colon cancer, a new study shows.

Using blood tests, researchers demonstrated that a fish oil supplement could lower prostaglandin E2 by 50 percent in normal-weight individuals. But those protective benefits were significantly reduced in study participants who have overweight or obesity — even though they received higher doses of the omega-3 supplement.

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Michigan State University Breslin Cancer Center

A new Michigan State University study is helping to answer a pressing question among scientists of just how close mice are to people when it comes to cancer.

The findings, now published in PLOS Genetics, reveal how mice can actually mimic human breast cancer tissue and its genes, even more so than previously thought, as well as other cancers including lung, oral and esophagus.

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Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota

Over the past few decades, several studies have been conducted to determine whether those phones are associated with an increased risk of cancer.

Scientists have been split on their opinions on the significance of the risks.

So, who can we believe? Do cell phones cause cancer? Good Question.

“That’s actually a pretty difficult question to answer,” said Dr. Matthew Hunt, a neurosurgeon with University of Minnesota Health. “It’s a really hard thing to study because you’re looking at something everyone uses and they use a lot.”

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Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center (University of Nebraska)

A promising therapy for people with recurring non-Hodgkin lymphoma and pediatric/young adult acute lymphoblastic leukemia was recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is now available for commercial use at Nebraska Medicine.

“This is a big home run for patients who have failed every other type of cancer treatment,” says Julie Vose, MD, chief of Hematology/Oncology at Nebraska Medicine.

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Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University

They are among the most challenging prostate cancer patients to treat: about 150,000 men worldwide each year whose cancer is aggressive enough to defy standard hormonal therapy, but has not yet spread to the point where it can be seen on scans.

These patients enter a tense limbo which often ends too quickly with the cancer metastasizing to their bones, lymph nodes or other organs — sometimes causing intense pain.

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Penn State Cancer Institute

A recent Penn State College of Medicine physician’s study review suggests that shorter courses of radiation are preferable to longer ones for older patients receiving treatment for slow-growing skin cancers.

Skin basal and squamous cell cancers are common among patients over 60 years old and are rarely fatal. These cancers—which look like moles, freckles or skin tags—can be removed surgically but in some cases radiation therapy is preferred. Doctors often recommend radiation when these cancers appear in areas such as near the eyes, ears, nose or lips, or in patients on blood thinners or with other health problems that rule out surgery.

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Purdue University Center for Cancer Research

A microRNA that regulates inflammation shows promise as a treatment for inflammatory diseases such as asthma and cancer, according to research published in Cell Reports.

The microRNA, known as miR-223, is highly expressed in blood cells that cause inflammation (neutrophils). When they’re working correctly, those blood cells help protect the human body against infections, but sometimes they damage host tissue instead of microbes, causing chronic inflammation and disease.

To uncover the link between miR-223 and inflammation, a Purdue University research team created a zebrafish totally deficient of miR-223. Then they cut off a small chunk of its fin.

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Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey

While cancer treatment advances are being made in the areas of precision medicine and immunotherapy, a unique combination of traditional therapies can also provide some cancer patients a treatment option that may provide significant benefit.  For instance a lesser-known treatment combining cytoreductive surgery (CRS) and hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) is being increasingly used to treat cancers that have spread to the abdominal cavity – a condition known as peritoneal metastases. This treatment strategy involves the surgical removal of metastatic cancer deposits followed by heated chemotherapy given within the abdominal cavity designed to obliterate the remaining invisible cancer cells that may be present in the tissues.

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University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center

Attacking cancer cells with anti-cancer drugs is one of the best tools in the fight against cancer. However, many promising anti-cancer treatments – from chemotherapy to gene therapy – have not been pursued clinically due to their low treatment efficacy and high systemic toxicity.

Engineering professor and UW Carbone Cancer Center member Shaoqin Sarah Gong, PhD, has thus focused her research on the field of nanomedicine, in which she is working to more safely deliver a variety of drugs to treat cancer, heart disease and even blindness.

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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.