Jefferson’s Kimmel Cancer Center to Host Tribute Dinner Honoring Steve Sabol, President of NFL Films

Steve Sabol

Jefferson’s Kimmel Cancer Center will host a tribute dinner to honor legendary filmmaker Steve Sabol, President of NFL Films, with the Spirit of Courage Award at the Union League of Philadelphia on June 5.

The award is presented to an individual who has demonstrated great personal courage, strength and dignity while battling cancer and supporting others in their fight against cancer.

Since being diagnosed with brain cancer in March of 2011, Mr. Sabol, who is currently being treated at the Kimmel Cancer Center, has helped people understand the impact of this disease, all while acting as a role model of perseverance.

“It’s an honor to be recognized by the Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson with this award, and, more importantly, to be part of what will be a memorable event recognizing the importance of advancing clinical care and cancer research,” said Mr. Sabol. “Because of Jefferson’s treatment and Dr. Kevin Judy of the Jefferson Hospital for Neuroscience, I’ve been able to move forward through this battle. I thank everyone at the KCC for that and for the support of everyone attending the event.”

Sidney and Caroline Kimmel will be attending the event to honor Mr. Sabol, with Mrs. Kimmel giving some introductory remarks. Richard Pestell, M.D., Ph.D., FACP, Director of Jefferson’s Kimmel Cancer Center, will present the Spirit of Courage award.

Mr. Sabol is best known as President of Mt. Laurel-based NFL Films, which was founded by his father, Ed Sabol, who was recently inducted into the Football Hall of Fame.  Steve Sabol is recognized for having revolutionized not only how we watch football, but also the very nature of sports broadcasting. While NFL Films has won over 100 Emmys, Sabol himself has received 35 of those Emmys for writing, cinematography, editing, directing, and producing.

No one else in all of television has earned as many Emmys in as many different categories.

Mr. Sabol will also be donating one of his trademark pieces of art for the event for live auction.

His collage art is a natural outgrowth of his cinematic vision.  Mr. Sabol has spent his entire career thinking about football and the positive values the game represents.  In the process, football became a prism for looking at American society.  Using symbolic imagery from both the sports world and popular culture, Mr. Sabol has created a unique visual language that hearkens to times past and reminds us of the best in ourselves.

The auctioned artwork and event will benefit cancer research at Jefferson’s Kimmel Cancer Center.

“This is a very special award to the Kimmel Cancer Center because it honors those rare individuals whose courage and dignity have stood out,” said Dr. Pestell. “It’s with great pleasure to give the Spirit of Courage award to Mr. Sabol, who has no doubt inspired and empowered others—throughout his career and his fight against cancer.”

Chairpersons include Roberta Tanenbaum and Joseph Weiss, along with Honorary Co-Chairpersons Anne and Matt Hamilton.

Co-chairpersons include: Dorothy and David Binswanger, Linda Golden and Richard Davidson, Linda and Benjamin Frankel, Janis and Stephen Goodman, Caroline and Sidney Kimmel, Christina and Jeffery Lurie, Nataliia and Richard Pestell, Judy and Marvin Rounick, and Kathy and John Spagnola.

For more information, please contact Mika Harding, Associate Director for Development, Kimmel Cancer Center, 215-503-1195, Mika.Harding@KimmelCancerCenter.Org, or visit http://www.kimmelcancercenter.org/about/tribute-dinner.html



Ovarian, Glioblastoma & Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer: Jefferson Researchers Present at AACR

Several researchers from Jefferson’s Kimmel Cancer Center presented abstracts at the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting 2012 in Chicago. Some of those findings include:

HuR and Ovarian Cancer

Silencing HuR may be a promising therapeutic approach for the treatment of ovarian cancer, according to an abstract presented at AACR by researchers from Thomas Jefferson University, Lankenau Institute for Medical Research, the Geisinger Clinic and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

HuR is a RNA-binding protein that post-transcriptionally regulates genes involved in the normal cellular response to cancer-associated stressors, like DNA damage, nutrient depletion and therapeutic agents.  When triggered by stress, HuR translocates from the nucleus to the cytoplasm where it potently influences translation of key tumor promoting mRNAs by mRNA stabilization and direct facilitation of translation.

Previously, it has been shown that HuR expression is a prognostic marker in ovarian cancers. Thus, researchers tested the effects of manipulating HuR expression levels on ovarian tumor growth characteristics and tested the hypothesis that silencing HuR through delivery of an HuR siRNA would be effective in suppressing the growth of ovarian tumors.

Following treatment of ovarian cancer cells in culture with an adenovirus containing the HuR coding sequence, HuR expression was increased by about 40% above control cells.

In the patient cohort, researchers also detected HuR activation (i.e., cytoplasmic HuR positivity) in twenty-four of thirty four patients (71 percent), providing evidence that the majority of patients have activated HuR.

“These data provide evidence that silencing HuR, even as a monotherapeutic strategy, may be a promising therapeutic approach for the treatment of ovarian cancer,” wrote the authors.

Authors of the paper include Janet A. Sawicki and Yu-Hung Huang, of Lankenau Institute for Medical Research, Charles J. Yeo, Agnieszka K. Witkiewicz, Jonathan R. Brody, of Thomas Jefferson University, Radhika P. Gogoi, of Geisinger Clinic, Danville, Pa., and Kevin Love and Daniel G. Anderson, of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass.

This work was supported by the Marsha Rivkin Center for Ovarian Cancer Research.

Radiotherapy and Glioblastoma

Radiotherapy’s effect on glioblastoma (GBM) is enhanced in the presence of a heat shock protein and a P13K inhibitor, researchers from the Department of Radiation Oncology reported at AACR.

Glioblastoma tumors frequently contain mutations in the tumor suppressor gene, PTEN, leading to loss of PTEN activity, which causes overactivation of the PI3K pathway, inducing inhibition of apoptosis and radioresistance.

Heat-shock protein 90 (HSP90) is a molecular chaperone that is over-expressed in GBM and that has among its client proteins, PI3K and Akt.

It was hypothesized that dual inhibition of HSP90 and PI3K signaling would additively or synergistically radiosensitize GBM through inhibition of radiation-induced PI3K/Akt signaling, leading to enhanced apoptosis.

Confirming their theory, the researchers found that the response of glioblastoma to radiotherapy was enhanced in the presence of BKM120 and HSP990. Enhanced apoptosis also contributed to the mechanism of cell death.

Authors of the study include Phyllis Rachelle Wachsberger, Yi Liu, Barbara Andersen, and Adam P. Dicker, of the Department of Radiation Oncology at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and Richard Y. Lawrence, of Jefferson and the Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer, Israel.

This work was supported by a grant from Novartis Pharmaceuticals.

Non-Small Lung Cancer and DACH1

Researchers from the Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson have identified a protein relationship that may be an ideal treatment target for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).  They presented their findings at AACR.

DACH1, a cell fate determination factor protein, appears to be a binding partner to p53, a known tumor suppressor, which inhibits NSCLC cellular proliferation.

As cancer develops and becomes more invasive, the expression of DACH1 decreases. Clinical studies have demonstrated a reduced expression of the DACH1 in breast, prostate and endometrial cancer.

In a previous study of more than 2,000 breast cancer patients, Jefferson researchers found that a lack of DACH1 expression was associated with a poor prognosis in breast cancer patients. Patients who did express DACH1 lived an average of 40 months longer.

Genetic studies have identified several oncogenes activated in lung cancer, including K-Ras and EGFR. Given the importance of the EGFR in human lung cancer, researchers examined the role of DACH1 in lung cancer cellular growth, migration and DNA damage response.

For this study, endogenous DACH1 was reduced in human NSCLC, with expression levels of DACH1 correlating inversely with clinical stage and pathological grade.

Re-expression of DACH1 also  reduced lung cancer cell colony formation and cellular migration. Cell cycle analyses demonstrated that G2/M block by ectopic expression of DACH1 occurs synergistically with p53.

Fluorescent microscopy demonstrated co-localization of DACH1 with p53, and immunoprecipitation and western blot assay showed DACH1 association with p53.

“DACH1 enhanced the cytotoxcity of cisplatin and doxorubicin, two commonly used drugs for NSCLC,” the authors write in the abstract. “Together, our studies demonstrate that p53 is a DACH1 binding partner that inhibits NSCLC cellular proliferation.”

Authors of the study include Ke Chen, Kongming Wu, Wei Zhang, Jie Zhou, Timothy Stanek, Zhiping Li, Chenguang Wang, L. Andrew Shirley, Hallgeir Rui, Steven McMahon, Richard G. Pestell, of  Thomas Jefferson University, Kimmel Cancer Center and Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China.



KCC’s Brain Tumor Center’s New Immunotherapy Clinical Trial Featured in Several News Outlets

Led by Dr. David Andrews, co-director of the Brain Tumor Center of the Kimmel Cancer Center, a new immunotherapy clinical trial at Jefferson will harvest cells from brain tumors for use in treatment.

In an interview with KYW Newsradio, Dr. Andrews explains that the first step of the trial will be a surgical procedure to take cells from the brain tumor. He adds, ”We then take the tumor cells and treat them with a drug that will induce cell death. The drug itself actually interacts with the immune system.”

Afterwards, the cells are placed in the stomach to work with the immune system to attack the malignant tumor.

Learn more by reading “In Battle Against Cancer, New Trial Fights Fire with Fire“ from KYW Newsradio and ”Immunotherapy Tested on Brain Tumors” from the Philadelphia Tribune.

Information about this upcoming trial was also mentioned on CBS 3.



Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson Celebrates 20 Years of Patient Care and Cancer Discovery

October 2011 marks 20 years of exceptional cancer care and research at KCC

From October forward, the Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson (KCC), a National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center, is celebrating 20 years of service to the community and the groundbreaking cancer research from the scientists and physicians who’ve provided an invaluable contribution to medical science and healthcare.

“This is truly a milestone for the Kimmel Cancer Center—it’s two decades of caring and collaborating to beat cancer,” says Richard Pestell, M.D., Ph.D., director of the KCC and Chair of the Department of Cancer Biology at Thomas Jefferson University.

“With our multidisciplinary approach, KCC’s team of clinicians and researchers has continued to put their best feet forward to provide excellent, stand-out personalized care for cancer patients in the Philadelphia region and beyond and uncover new pathways to better prevent, diagnose and treat the disease,” he added.

Today, the KCC offers up an experienced team of medical and radiation oncologists, surgeons, pathologists, urologists, neurosurgeons, nurses and other specialists for patients as they fight against cancer. With the Jefferson Breast Care Center, the Bodine Center for Radiation Therapy, the Myrna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine, and Jefferson Pancreatic, Biliary Tract and Related Cancer Center, to name a few, patients have access to the best facilities, providers and technologies for cancer screening and treatment.

It was October 1991 when the Jefferson Cancer Institute opened, with the dedication of the Bluemle Life Science Building on the Thomas Jefferson University campus. Four years later, with the awarding of a Cancer Center Support Grant, the National Institutes of Health National Cancer Institute (NCI) officially recognized it as one of only 54 NCI-designated cancer centers in the U.S. at the time. The institute took its current name in 1996 when businessman and philanthropist Sidney Kimmel made a generous donation to the institute to expand its research activities.

The donation to Jefferson is not a “gift,” but “an investment for humanity,” Mr. Kimmel told the Philadelphia Inquirer in 1996. “I really believe we’re going to have a breakthrough” in cancer research.

Living up to his expectations, KCC cancer researchers have made significant contributions over the last two decades, including better care in prostate cancer (Leonard Gomella, M.D.); new targets and diagnostics for prostate and breast cancer (Hallgeir Rui, M.D., Ph.D., Dr. Pestell); discoveries in colon cancer (Scott Waldman, M.D., Ph.D); pioneering discoveries in cancer metabolism and stem cells (Michael Lisanti, M.D. Ph.D., Dr. Pestell); better bone marrow transplants (Neal Flomenberg, M.D.); more selective radiation treatment (Adam Dicker, M.D.); and new areas of the human genome to treat (Isidore Rigoutsos, Ph.D., and  Paolo M. Fortina, M.D., Ph.D.).

Dr. Pestell, who became director in 2005, has made significant contributions to understanding cell cycle regulation and the aberrations that can lead to cells turning cancerous. His work identified new molecular markers, and new targets for cancer treatment. An internationally renowned expert in oncology and endocrinology, Dr. Pestell’s record of research funding is outstanding, securing substantial National Institutes of Health grants for the KCC.

Today, KCC’s well-funded basic science programs include cell biology, immunology and structural biology, developmental therapeutics, melanoma, leukemia/lymphoma, prostate and breast cancers, and gastrointestinal and genitourinary cancers. KCC also conducts numerous cancer clinical trials each year aimed at prevention and treatment of cancer.

Two recent clinical trials have resulted in the addition of new procedures at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.  For example, in the Department of Urology, under chairman Leonard Gomella, M.D, a bladder cancer diagnostic tool using an imaging agent and blue light technology is now helping physicians better detect tumors along the bladder lining. Also, a new, two-step approach to half-match bone marrow transplants (where a patient can use a sibling or parent as a donor) developed by Chair of Medical Oncology Neal Flomenberg, M.D., is proving to be a success for blood cancer patients whose options were otherwise limited.  Jefferson is the only hospital in the region performing half-match procedures.

Since being appointed as chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology in 2010, Adam Dicker, M.D., Ph.D., has led extensive clinic renovations and the ongoing addition of new technologies. That includes Bodine’s recently acquired radiation therapy equipment for head and neck and prostate cancer patients and an upcoming radiosurgey instrument designed to deliver higher doses of radiation to smaller areas. Bodine’s state-of-the-art brachytherapy suite is also set to open in early 2012.

Last year, Charles J. Yeo, M.D., Chair of Surgery, performed his 1,000th Whipple procedure.  The Whipple procedure is a major surgical operation involving removal of portions of the pancreas, bile duct and duodenum, and is typically performed to treat malignant tumors involving the pancreas, common bile duct or duodenum.  Jefferson’s surgery department treats more pancreatic cases than anywhere in the region.

Thomas Jefferson University Hospital is consistently ranked in the top 50 best hospitals for treating cancer in America (#31 in 2011) in U.S. News and World Report. What’s more, the hospital has moved up more than 20 places in the past five years for cancer.



Hypofractionated Stereotactic Radiotherapy Beneficial as Salvage Therapy for Recurrent Low-Grade Glioma

Hypofractionated stereotactic radiotherapy was well-tolerated and improved symptoms in patients with recurrent low-grade glioma, according to researchers from the Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson. The data were presented at the AACR 100th Annual Meeting 2009. (Abstract #3617)

In a subgroup of patients who also received chemotherapy with their hypofractionated sterotactic radiotherapy (H-SRT) the median survival time was more than three times longer than patients who only received H-SRT alone according to Shannon Fogh, M.D., a resident in Radiation Oncology at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.

The study included 22 patients with evidence of glioma recurrence. All patients were given H-SRT as salvage therapy, and nine of the patients also received chemotherapy. The most common regimen was temozolomide (Temodar).

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