June 20, 2017:

Summer is officially here and so is the hottest news in cancer research – at your fingertips in this month’s edition of Across the Consortium. Get up to date on the latest discoveries, game-changing breakthroughs, and big-time funding achievements. Don’t miss the inspirational moments that go down in history, from the dedication of the “Search” Tower to a discussion with family of Henrietta Lacks – source of the HeLa cell line.  All this and more as we take you Across the Consortium!

University of Illinois Cancer Center

In this new era of precision medicine in which researchers, health care providers, and patients work together to develop individualized care to fight life-threatening diseases, the ability to establish trust between patients and medical researchers is more critical than ever.

Join UI Health Cancer Center experts, a cancer survivor, and family members of Henrietta Lacks, an African American woman whose cancer cells became the most important cell lines in medical history, to discuss the impact of her important legacy on medical research, efforts to safeguard public trust and the Cancer Center’s participation in the National Institutes of Health All of Us Research Program, a historic effort to gather data from one million or more people living in the United States to accelerate research and improve health.

Event details.

Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center

The 25th anniversary of the Vera Bradley Classic – which will come next summer – was already poised to be a festive event of golf, tennis, food, friendship and, most importantly, raising money and awareness for the fight against breast cancer.

But after the good news of Monday night, at the conclusion of this year’s Classic, organizers could look forward to the milestone year of 2018 with a new level of vigor.

The Vera Bradley Foundation announced it raised $1,100,065, an all-time high, through its tennis events at Wildwood Racquet Club, golf at Sycamore Hills Golf Club and Fort Wayne Country Club and endeavors like the Pink Ribbon and Turn the Town Pink campaigns.

Read more.

University of Iowa Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center

Evidence is growing that adding high-dose, intravenous vitamin C in combination with standard chemotherapy and radiation treatment is a safe, relatively inexpensive approach that may improve outcomes for patients with a wide range of cancers.

In a new study published online March 30 in the journal Cancer Cell, researchers with Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Iowa report promising results from a phase 1 clinical trial testing high-dose vitamin C therapy in patients with the brain cancer glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) and preliminary findings from a phase 2 trial in stage 4 non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

Read more.

University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center

A new study sheds light on the risk of blood clots at all stages of ovarian cancer and the potential need for preventive blood thinners during pre-surgery chemotherapy.

More than 25 percent of patients undergoing chemotherapy before and after surgery for ovarian cancer develop blood clots, according to a new retrospective cohort study from researchers at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The findings were published in Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Read more.

Michigan State University Breslin Cancer Center

Michigan State University College of Human Medicine researchers are conducting three promising studies that could lead to new treatments for skin cancer, including melanoma, the deadliest form.

But without money raised by MSU’s annual Gran Fondo cycling event, none of the three studies would be going forward.

“To make a long story short, I wouldn’t be working on this if it wasn’t for the MSU Gran Fondo,” said researcher Fredric Manfredsson, an assistant professor in the Department of Translational Science & Molecular Medicine.

Read more.

Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota

A research study led by University of Minnesota engineers gives new insight into how cancer cells move based on their ability to sense their environment. The discovery could have a major impact on therapies to prevent the spread of cancer.

The research is published in Nature Communications, a leading research journal.

The researchers found that cells have the ability to sense the stiffness of their environment and their ability to move is dependent upon that environment. These environments range from stiff (bone tissue) to soft (fatty tissue) with a medium stiffness (muscle tissue).

Read more.

Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center (University of Nebraska)

An 82-foot lighted glass tower designed by Omaha artist Jun Kaneko was dedicated during a lighting ceremony on Wednesday near the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center on the UNMC/Nebraska Medicine campus.

The tower, which Kaneko has called “Search,” was given by an anonymous donor in honor of Ken Cowan, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center. Dr. Cowan has served as the cancer center director at UNMC/Nebraska Medicine since 1999.

“The ‘Search’ Tower is a cornerstone of the Healing Arts Program at the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center,” Dr. Cowan said. “It will serve as a true guiding light for patients. It fits perfectly into the importance of art and healing.”

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Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University

New Northwestern Medicine research published in Nature Cell Biology has shown that mitochondria, traditionally known for their role creating energy in cells, also play an important role in hematopoiesis, the body’s process for creating new blood cells.

“Historically, mitochondria are viewed as ATP — energy — producing organelles,” explained principal investigator Navdeep Chandel, PhD, the David W. Cugell Professor of Medicine in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine. “Previously, my laboratory provided evidence that mitochondria can dictate cell function or fate independent of ATP production. We established the idea that mitochondria are signaling organelles.”

Read more.

Penn State Cancer Institute

Compounds from grapes may kill colon cancer stem cells both in a petri dish and in mice, according to a team of researchers.

The compounds — resveratrol —which are found in grape skins and seeds, could also eventually lead to treatments to help prevent colon cancer, said Jairam K.P. Vanamala, associate professor of food sciences, Penn State. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the U.S., according to the American Cancer Society.

Read more.

Purdue University Center for Cancer Research

The acting director of the National Cancer Institute will visit the Purdue Center for Cancer Research on June 29 to meet with university research leaders and participate in a series of presentations.

Dr. Douglas R. Lowy has been the NCI’s acting director since 2015. He leads the primary federal institute that funds cancer research. President Donald Trump’s administration recently named Norman Sharpless to succeed Lowy as a permanent director, but it is not yet clear when he will officially take this position.

During the visit, Lowy will meet with Timothy Ratliff, the Robert Wallace Miller Director of the Purdue University Center for Cancer Research, and Suresh Garimella, vice president for research and partnerships, about studies taking place on campus. The Purdue Center for Cancer Research is an NCI-designated facility where studies are ongoing on cancers from inside the cell where they start. The center develops new medicines and advanced treatment and detection methods by utilizing interdisciplinary teams. This is the first time an NCI director has visited the center.

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Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey

Can use of hair products have an impact on breast cancer risk for women? That is a question explored by Rutgers University investigators – and colleagues from Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Massachusetts General Hospital and Moffitt Cancer Center.  Lead author of the work Adana A.M. Llanos, PhD, MPH of Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey and Rutgers School of Public Health along with author Elisa V. Bandera, MD, PhD of Rutgers Cancer Institute, Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and Rutgers School of Public Health share more about the work which examined use of hair dyes, hair relaxers and cholesterol-based hair products in African-American and Caucasian women.

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University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center

The function of a protein associated with breast cancer development and metastasis is now better understood, based on a new study by University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center (UWCCC) researchers.

The study identified how the protein, CARM1, recognizes its target proteins, and should lead to a better understanding of how the cancer develops as well as the discovery of targeted drug therapies.

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.