February. 20, 2020:

In this month’s Across the Consortium, the Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium (Big Ten CRC) highlights new treatments and discoveries our members are making to bring us one step closer to defeating cancer. We also recognize those who have experienced cancer firsthand and are now dedicating their time and passion to fight for a cure.

University of Illinois Cancer Center

Lack of insurance coverage is a major cause of delayed breast cancer screening and treatment among minority women, which could lead to a decrease in a patient’s chance of survival. Nearly half of the disparity in later-stage diagnosis between non-Hispanic white women and black, Hispanic, and Asian/Pacific Islander women was mediated by being uninsured or underinsured, according to a new study conducted at the University of Illinois at Chicago and Boston Medical Center/Boston University School of Medicine.

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Cancer Center at Illinois

University of Illinois scientists have developed new drug compounds that thwart the pro-cancer activity of FOXM1, a transcription factor that regulates the activity of dozens of genes. The new compounds suppress tumor growth in human cells and in mouse models of several types of human breast cancer.

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Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center

More than $3 million from the National Institutes of Health will allow Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center researchers to improve understanding of the complex system of how hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) survive and sustain their function in the bone marrow.

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University of Iowa Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center

A Davenport, Iowa, woman with fast-developing cancer credits the groundbreaking new treatment offered at University of Iowa Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center with saving her life. Holden is the only center in Iowa to offer CAR T-cell therapy, which uses a patient’s own white blood cells to detect and kill cancer cells and is among the first sites in the nation to use the therapy to treat patients.

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University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center

The University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center has joined the Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium. The consortium’s membership now includes the cancer centers of all Big Ten universities.

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University of Michigan Rogel Cancer Center

How do a couple of universally expressed proteins in stem cells and developing embryos influence an individual cell’s ultimate fate – whether it ultimately becomes, for example, a retinal cell, a heart muscle cell, or a stomach lining cell? That’s the question that Rajesh C. Rao, MD, and his colleagues at the University of Michigan set out to answer.

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Michigan State University Breslin Cancer Center

Better treatments for a lethal form of liver cancer already might exist. The challenge is in finding the best treatment for each of the disease’s many variations. Highly advanced computer programs could sort through a massive amount of “big data” and match the genetic and molecular characteristics of each patient’s liver cancer with the most effective treatment among thousands of compounds, suggested a team of researchers led by Bin Chen, an assistant professor in the College of Human Medicine’s Departments of Pediatrics and Human Development, and Pharmacology and Toxicology.

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Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota

The closing of rural hospitals and specialty care units is causing many people, including breast cancer patients, to seek treatment far from home. A study from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health recently found that U.S. rural breast cancer patients typically travel three times farther than urban women for radiation therapy to treat their disease.

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Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center (University of Nebraska)

In a recent profile, University of Nebraska Medical Center researcher Rebecca (Becky) Oberley Deegan, PhD, shared about her research goal to reduce side effects caused by cancer treatment: “Radiation and chemotherapy are some of the most effective and common therapies used to treat cancer, but unfortunately, they also damage normal tissues during the process through the formation of free radicals. Our goal is to mitigate this damage to normal tissues while not interfering with the killing of cancer cells.”

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Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University

Treatments for glioblastoma, a deadly brain tumor, are often promising in early stages but lose effectiveness over time. According to a new study published in the journal Neuro-Oncology, that may be because current treatments are targeting the wrong place. The study, led by Craig Horbinski, MD, PhD, professor of pathology, found that glioblastoma commonly migrates within the brain, specifically from the upper part of the brain down to the brainstem. This migration occurs as the disease progresses and may explain why treatments sometimes stall out.

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

A new study led by researchers at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute reveals how a clotting protein and blood platelets can promote cancer progression and suppress immune responses to cancer.

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Penn State Cancer Institute

Colin Hayes is not your typical medical student. He’s known since before he arrived at Penn State College of Medicine that he wanted to go into pediatric oncology. He found his calling as a patient on the other side of campus at Penn State Children’s Hospital. Colin’s journey to becoming a doctor started with a diagnosis.

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Purdue University Center for Cancer Research

A pair of Purdue University students who have personal connections to cancer will help carry on the legacy of Tyler Trent, a Purdue graduate and superfan who died from a rare type of bone cancer. Anni Osborne and Evan Boudreaux have been appointed as student members of the Director’s Advancement Board for the Purdue University Center for Cancer Research. The students will work with the board and leadership from the center to raise awareness of the research and advancements being made at Purdue in the fight against cancer.

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Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey

Doctors at Rutgers University are developing biomedicine technology that aims to destroy cancerous tumors.

Assistant Professor of Bio-Medical Engineering Adam Gormley and doctoral student Matthew Tamasi have created 5,000 new polymers in the last two years. A polymer is the base from which plastics are made, and plastic is the most versatile material on Earth. These polymers have opened the door to new medical advances not possible just a few years ago.

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University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center

Scientists at the University of Wisconsin–Madison have developed a more efficient way to grow white blood cells that serve as front-line defenders against bacterial infections but are often depleted as a potentially deadly side effect of cancer treatment.

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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 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.