2014 SKCC Consortium: Symposium and Poster Session

On October 1st, 2014 the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center Consortium held a Symposium and Poster Session. Senior Leadership presented overviews of the work being done across the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center Consortium. Also, progress reports were presented by the recipients of the 2013 SKCC Consortium Pilot Project Awards.  The afternoon portion of the event was composed primarily of a Poster Session from SKCC Consortium graduate students and post-doctoral fellows. Below, is list of the winners from the Poster Session:

Post-Doctoral Fellowship Poster Awards:
1st    Fernando Blanco, PhD
2nd   Edward Hartsough, PhD
3rd   Atul Goyal, PhD

Graduate Student Poster Awards:
1st    Debra Klopfenstein
2nd  Sergey Karakashev
3rd   Valerie Sodi

Below is a selection of photos from the day’s event and here is the days agenda.



Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson Tribute Dinner Hosted By Phialdelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field

2014 SKCC Tribute Dinner

2014 SKCC Tribute Dinner

The Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Thomas Jefferson University held its annual tribute Dinner on September 5th, 2014. The honorees of the annual event were he Philadelphia Eagles for their effort to fight Cancer. The event was held at Lincoln Financial Field. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Cancer Breakthrough Research Fund. For more about the event click here and here




Jefferon’s Kimmel Cancer Center Holds 5th Annual Men’s Event

Jefferson’s Kimmel Cancer Center hosted its 5th Annual Men’s Event to benefit prostate cancer research and awareness at the Prime Rib Restaurant on November 14.

Below are some photos of the night, award ceremony and entertainment provided by Comedy Central’s “100 Greatest Stand-Ups of All Time,” Jim Breuer of Saturday Night Live.


“Spirit of Caring” Awardee:

Wm. Kevin Kelly, D.O.

Professor, Medical Oncology and Urology,
Director, Division of Solid Tumor Oncology

The “Spirit of Caring Award” is presented to an individual to recognize outstanding leadership in cancer research and the hope they hold for improving the quality of life in every community.

“Spirit of Courage” Awardee:
Anthony DiPrimio, PhD

Author, Prostate Cancer: What Men Need to Know About this Disease and Its Treatment

The “Spirit of Courage 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.

“Spirit of Commitment” Awardee:
Neal Rodin

President, International Financial Company, LLC

The “Spirit of Commitment Award” is presented to an individual to recognize outstanding commitment to supporting the work of the Kimmel Cancer Center through personal and professional contributions dedicated to finding a cure.

“Spirit of Innovation” Awardee:
Dendreon:
The company applies its expertise in antigen identification, engineering and cell processing to produce active cellular immunotherapy (ACI) product candidates designed to stimulate an immune response. They pioneered a novel, first in class autologous immunotherapy first approved for the treatment of advanced prostate cancer. Dendreon is headquartered in Seattle with corporate operations based locally in the Delaware Valley and manufacturing plants in Georgia and California.

The “Spirit of Innovation” Award is presented to an organization whose innovation in cancer measurably improves business and/or clinical processes that impact product development, prevention programs, research, or patient care.



Researchers Find New Clues to Treat Rare and Aggressive Inflammatory Breast Cancer

Massimo Cristofanilli, M.D.

A study led by investigators from Thomas Jefferson University’s Kimmel Cancer Center has discovered molecular clues that may help physicians therapeutically target inflammatory breast cancer (IBC), a highly aggressive form of breast cancer.

Their study, reported in the June 21 online issue of Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, identified two molecules (ALK and FAK1) involved in the IBC cancer pathway. Drugs already exist that inhibit both of these two cancer-promoting proteins at the same time, which the researchers are now testing in animal preclinical studies.

“Women diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer are in great need of therapies that are tailored to this aggressive form of breast cancer. Survival rates are much lower than for other forms of breast cancer,” says the study’s lead author Sandra V. Fernandez, Ph.D., Assistant Professor in the Medical Oncology department at Jefferson.

IBC is a particularly aggressive and highly metastatic form of breast cancer characterized by very rapid onset of progression— weeks to a few months — and metastasis that spreads quickly to the brain, bones, and soft tissues. The three-year survival rate is 40 percent for IBC patients compared with 85 percent in other forms of breast cancer. Additionally, IBC patients are younger when diagnosed.

The disease is also difficult to diagnose because it appears as redness and swelling of the breast. There are no classic tumor masses.

“Because of how this cancer looks, physicians often think it is dermatitis, or inflammation, or an infection, such as mastitis. I know of many patients who were misdiagnosed from the start, and by the time they were referred to an oncologist, their cancer had progressed,” says the study’s senior investigator, Massimo Cristofanilli, MD, FACP, Professor of Medical Oncology and Director of the Jefferson Breast Care Center.

“We need to improve both diagnosis and treatment of this cancer, which is on the rise for reasons that are not understood,” he says.

The advances reported in the study were possible because the research team developed a new animal model of IBC, derived from tumor  cells from a patient with metastatic triple negative (estrogen receptor-negative, progesterone receptor-negative, Her2-negative) inflammatory breast cancer under an IRB-approved study. At the present, there are few animal models to study this particular disease.

In addition to identifying some of the pathways involved in IBC, the researchers were able to characterize the pattern of spread of the disease, which moved quickly to organs and the brain. They found that clumps of the cancer — not tumor masses — obstruct lymphatic channels in the breast, causing the swelling of breast tissues.

“This animal model is a really important tool to use to study IBC progression and metastasis, and to test potentially beneficial drugs,” says Dr. Fernandez.

Researchers from the University of Texas M D Anderson Cancer Center and Fox Chase Cancer Center contributed to the research.

The study was supported by the American Airlines-Komen for the Cure Foundation Promise Grant KGO81287, NIH NCI 1R01 CA 138239, and the Inflammatory Breast Cancer Foundation.

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

For more information, contact Jackie Kozloski, 215-955-5296, jackie.kozloski@jefferson.edu.



KCC Ranked as One of Best Cancer Hospitals in US

Men’s Health magazine recently ranked the Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson among the best in the nation, calling out its success in treating prostate cancer, a leading cancer in men.

The American Cancer Society estimates there will be more than 1.5 million new cancer diagnoses in 2013.

Jefferson scientist, Matthew Schiewer, Ph.D., recently received the Prostate Cancer Benjamin Franklin Young Investigator Award, and will use the funds to help find treatments for advanced-stage prostate cancers.

Jefferson is home to top-of-the-line equipment and high-tech features like electron and photon-beam treatment and complete 3-D treatment planning.  We offer comprehensive diagnostic and treatment options for prostate cancer in addition to state-of-the-art prostate imaging and biopsy service.

When indicated, a prostatectomy can be performed either laparoscopically or via open surgery.  Jefferson physicians were the first in the Delaware Valley to remove the prostate laparoscopically, and have extensive experience with and numerous scientific publications on the use of the da Vinci® Surgical System.

“It is rewarding for our team to be recognized for excellence in cancer care,” says Richard G. Pestell, MD, PhD, MBBS, FRACP, MBA, Kimmel Cancer Center Director.  “We are one of only eight NCI-Designated cancer centers in the United States with a prostate program formally reviewed and endorsed by the National Cancer Institute. This program, led by Leonard Gomella, MD and Karen Knudsen, PhD, is a powerhouse of key advances in prostate cancer.  Our leading edge research and clinical care excellence across a wide spectrum of cancer specialties, including men’s health, enable us to deliver the best outcomes for our patients.”

Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson

The Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson is a National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated clinical cancer center for excellence in cancer care and research. U.S.News & World Report also recognizes Jefferson as one of the best hospitals in the nation for Cancer care. Taking into account your varied needs, our nationally renowned cancer experts bring together a team of specialists in a wide range of disciplines to work with you and your primary care or referring physician to devise a personalized treatment plan.

The physicians and scientists of the Kimmel Cancer Center have helped pioneer new approaches to cancer treatment by transforming scientific discoveries into improved patient care. Our physicians are experienced in using the most advanced treatment methods and technologies and are at the forefront of developing new therapies. As a result, you may have the opportunity to take part in one of the more than 120 clinical trials for promising new cancer treatments being conducted at Jefferson at any given time.

by Danielle Servetnick on Tuesday, July 16th, 2013 in Cancer CareIn The News.



Ladies of Port Richmond Featured in Inquirer

Mary Louise Leuters is a two-time breast cancer survivor and president of the Ladies of Port Richmond, a local group of breast cancer survivors who have raised over $400,000 for breast cancer research in the last nine years.Nearly 300,000 American women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year, and 40,000 will die from it, according to the American Cancer Society. There are nearly three million survivors.The Ladies of Port Richmond host a local walk each year along with many fundraising events including bake sales and church breakfasts.In an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer, Richard Pestell, MD, director of the Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson, explains that the money is especially valuable because it comes with no strings attached. Jefferson researchers have used it as seed money – almost impossible to find otherwise – to do preliminary research that has helped win National Cancer Institute grants worth millions. He adds, ”There’s been a tremendous return on their efforts.”

Read the full “The fighting ladies of Port Richmond” story.

Learn more about the Jefferson Breast Care Center and treatment of breast cancer at Jefferson.

by Danielle Servetnick on Wednesday, July 17th, 2013 in Cancer CareIn The News.



Dr. Karen Knudsen and Dr. Renato Iozzo receive Distinguished Mentor Awards.

On Monday, June 11, 2012, at the Annual Jefferson Postdoctoral Research Symposium, Dr. Karen Knudsen and Dr. Renato Iozzo were honored with The Distinguished Mentor Award. The Distinguished Mentor Award was established to recognize Jefferson faculty members that excel in the mentoring of postdoctoral fellows. The award also serves to highlight the importance of positive and effective mentoring of postdoctoral fellows. A good mentor not only teaches his/her mentees but serves as an advocate, advisor and positive role model during the period of direct training and most often, in the following years. It is our hope that the Distinguished Mentor will serve as a model for the entire university and help to enhance the culture of mentoring at Jefferson.



Dr. Jeannie Hoffman-Censits leads Walk for Bladder Cancer

On Saturday, May 5, 2012 Jeannie Hoffman-Censits, M.D. led Team Jefferson from the Kimmel Cancer Center‘s Bluemle Life Sciences Building to Independence Hall. Dr. Hoffman-Censits teamed up with “the first national advocacy organization devoted to bladder cancer,” the Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network, to help raise public awareness of bladder cancer and much needed funding.

Team Jefferson will be walking again on May 4, 2013. For more information, please contact Jessica Soens at Jessica.Soens@JeffersonHospital.org or call 215-955-2054.



Kimmel Cancer Center Founding Directors Portrait Unveiled


Dr. Richard G. Pestell, Martha Mayer Erlebacher, Dr. Carlo M. Croce, Dr. Richard L. Davidson

A portrait of Dr. Carlo Croce, the founding Director of the Jefferson Kimmel Cancer Center, painted by Philadelphia artist Martha Erlebacher, was unveiled on Tuesday, April 10, 2012, at 4:00 PM in the Bluemle Life Sciences Building.

Martha Mayer Erlebacher has been recognized as one of the leading representational figurative and still-life artists in America who has shown her work nationally and internationally. A number of books and periodicals feature her work, much of which “examines the deep metaphorical and social themes of contemporary culture through her painterly and aesthetic images.”

Dr. Croce is world-renowned for his contributions involving the genes and genetic mechanisms implicated in the pathogenesis of human cancer. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and Institute of Medicine in the United States and the Accademia Nazionale delle Scienze detta deiXL in Italy. He has earned a plethora of awards in recognition of his hard work and dedication including two Outstanding Investigator awards from the National Cancer Institute and most recently, an Elected Membership to The American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Dr. Joesph S. Gonnella and Dr. Carlo M. Croce

Dr. Croce is a principal investigator on eleven federal research grants and has more than 950 peer-reviewed, published research papers. A native of Milan, Italy, Dr. Croce earned his medical degree, summa cum laude, in 1969 from the School of Medicine, University of Rome. He began his career in the United States the following year as an associate scientist at the Wistar Institute of Biology and Anatomy in Philadelphia. In 1980, he was named Wistar Professor of Genetics at the University of Pennsylvania and Institute Professor and Associate Director of the Wistar Institute, titles he held until 1988. From 1988-91, he was Director of the Fels Institute for Cancer Research and Molecular Biology at Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia.

In 1991 Dr. Croce was named Director of the Kimmel Cancer Institute at Thomas Jefferson University.  While here, Dr. Croce discovered the role of microRNAs in cancer pathogenesis and progression, implicating a new class of genes in cancer causation.  After thirteen years as Director of the Kimmel Cancer Center, Dr. Croce moved to Ohio State University in 2004.  Under his direction at OSU, faculty within the Human Cancer Genetics Program conduct both clinical and basic research.  Basic research projects focus on how genes are activated and inactivated, how cell-growth signals are transmitted and regulated within cells, and how cells interact with the immune system. Clinical research focuses on discovering genes linked to cancer and mutations that predispose people to cancer.



Stronger Intestinal Barrier May Prevent Cancer in the Rest of the Body, New Study Suggests

Scott Waldman, M.D., Ph.D., chair of the Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics at Jefferson and director of the Gastrointestinal Cancer Program at Jefferson’s Kimmel Cancer Center

A leaky gut may be the root of some cancers forming in the rest of the body, a new study published online Feb. 21 in PLoS ONE by Thomas Jefferson University researchers suggests.

It appears that the hormone receptor guanylyl cyclase C (GC-C)—a previously identified tumor suppressor that exists in the intestinal tract—plays a key role in strengthening the body’s intestinal barrier, which helps separate the gut world from the rest of the body, and possibly keeps cancer at bay. Without the receptor, that barrier weakens.

A team led by Scott Waldman, M.D., Ph.D., chair of the Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics at Jefferson and director of the Gastrointestinal Cancer Program at Jefferson’s Kimmel Cancer Center, discovered in a pre-clinical study that silencing GC-C in mice compromised the integrity of the intestinal barrier.  It allowed inflammation to occur and cancer-causing agents to seep out into the body, damaging DNA and forming cancer outside the intestine, including in the liver, lung and lymph nodes.

Conversely, stimulating GC-C in intestines in mice strengthened the intestinal barrier opposing these pathological changes.

A weakened intestinal barrier has been linked to many diseases, like inflammatory bowel disease, asthma and food allergies, but this study provides fresh evidence that GC-C plays a role in the integrity of the intestine.  Strengthening it, the team says, could potentially protect people against inflammation and cancer in the rest of the body.

“If the intestinal barrier breaks down, it becomes a portal for stuff in the outside world to leak into the inside world,” said Dr. Waldman. “When these worlds collide, it can cause many diseases, like inflammation and cancer.”

The role of GC-C outside the gut has remained largely elusive. Dr. Waldman and his team have previously shown its role as a tumor suppressor and biomarker that reveals occult metastases in lymph nodes. They’ve used to it better predict cancer risk, and have even shown a possible correlation with obesity.

Reporting in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, Dr. Waldman colleagues found that silencing GC-C affected appetite in mice, disrupting satiation and inducing obesity. Conversely, mice who expressed the hormone receptor knew when to call it quits at mealtime.

However, its role in intestinal barrier integrity, inflammation, and cancer outside the intestine is new territory in the field.

A new drug containing GC-C is now on the verge of hitting the market, but its intended prescribed purpose is to treat constipation.

This study helps lays the groundwork, Dr. Waldman said, for future pre-clinical and clinical studies investigating GC-C’s abilities beyond those treatments in humans, including prevention and treatment of inflammatory bowel disease and cancer.

“We’ve shown that when you pull away GC-C in animals, you disrupt the intestinal barrier, putting them at risk for getting inflammatory bowel disease and cancer.  And when you treat them with hormones that activate GC-C it helps strengthen the integrity of the intestinal barrier,” Dr. Waldman said.  “Now, if you want to prevent inflammation or cancer in humans, then we need to start thinking about feeding people hormones that activate GC-C to tighten up the barrier.”



Jefferson’s Kimmel Cancer Center Establishes Center to Eliminate Cancer Disparities

Dr. Edith Mitchell, director of newly-established Center to Eliminate Cancer Disparities, and Robin Evans, a patient.

PHILADELPHIA—In an effort to reduce and eventually eliminate cancer disparities among adults in the Philadelphia region, the Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson has established the Center to Eliminate Cancer Disparities.

Edith P. Mitchell, M.D., FACP, a medical oncologist at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and Clinical Professor of Medicine and Medical Oncology in the Department of Medical Oncology at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University, will serve as its Director.

Despite the decline in cancer incidence and mortality rates in the United States, disparities in cancer burdens continue to exist among certain population groups and the gap continues to widen.  The Philadelphia region in particular has a disproportionately high number of residents suffering from cancers, many of which are preventable and treatable.

Such disparities include differences in incidence, prevalence, mortality and burden of cancer and related adverse health conditions. Disparate population groups may be characterized by gender, age, race and ethnicity, income, social class, disability, geographic location or sexual orientation.

“I have dedicated my career to the treatment of cancer patients and have had the opportunity to experience, as a physician and as a researcher, the significance cancer disparities can have on the outcome of a patient’s treatment,” said Dr. Mitchell. “The first step in the elimination of these disparities is to raise awareness through public and professional education about what resources are available to groups in their fight against cancer.”

The Center aims to accomplish its mission through the facilitation of disparities-focused research, researcher and clinician education, training and teaching, and increased patient access to quality supportive services, such as palliative care, cancer screening and prevention, and survivorship programs.

Dr. Mitchell and her fellow clinicians and researchers at Jefferson are dedicated to the ongoing study of cancer and other health disparities among patients of diverse ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds. They have created strategic priorities for eliminating such disparities through innovative research, education and training, advocacy, community outreach, and quality medical care.

The need for research into cancer, and other health care disparities, has become increasingly evident in recent years as doctors and scientists learn more about how slight variations in genetic makeup can have drastic effects on the way cancer invades an individual’s body.  Knowing that these disparities exist can improve how screening processes are established and help doctors understand which treatments will and will not be effective.

Dr. Mitchell has spent her medical career helping individuals in medically underserved areas to realize that simple changes in lifestyle can have a dramatic impact on cancer care. Through her work, Dr. Mitchell has demonstrated the importance of community service and outreach especially to those individuals who may not have the means to seek out more conventional medical advice.

She holds board certifications in both Internal Medicine and Medical Oncology and is a Fellow in the American College of Physicians. She has also served as the Program Leader in gastrointestinal oncology for more than 15 years and has a focused research effort in aggressive breast cancers.

“We want all researchers and clinicians to be aware of the disparities that exist in cancer diagnoses among diverse ethnic groups so that they can incorporate these important factors into their research efforts and clinical practice,” said Dr. Mitchell.

“The Center will also provide patients with contact information for cancer advocacy and support groups both locally and nationally that serve the needs of their demographic background. We are proud to host and sponsor several annual events where patients can come together to share their stories and plan for a future free of cancer disparities,” she said.



2011 Men’s Event Benefiting Prostate Cancer Research and patient care at Jefferson’s Kimmel Cancer Center

On Tuesday, November, 17th 2011, the Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson held the Third Annual Men’s Event benefiting prostate cancer research and patient care at the Prime Rib Restaurant in Philadelphia. The Men’s Event was emceed by Philadelphia Eagles Longsnapper, motivational speaker and magician, Jon Dorenbos.

Receiving the Symbol of Courage was John Beuhler, prostate cancer survivor and grateful patient of Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.  The Symbol of Caring was presented to Kenneth Boone, board member of Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.

Special guests included Amber-Joi Watkins, Miss USA Pennsylvania and Julianna White, Miss USA New Jersey. Guests enjoyed a dinner, silent and live auction, and casino.

The Lead Sponsor was Bill Frankel of Frankel Enterprises. Kimmel Cancer Center would also like to thank the following sponsors:

Sponsor Company / Group Silent Auction/ Company
AP Executive Management Algar Ferrari of Philadelphia
Barry Bressler, Esq. and Betty Gross Eisenberg American Male Salon
BlankRome Annie-Prue
Boone Properties, LLC Atlantic City Country Club
Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia Bistrot La Minette
Charles Pike Construction Blackfish Restaurant
Citi Blue Horizons Dive Center
Commonwealth Agency, Inc. Boyds
Dann, Dorfman, Herrell & Skillman, PC Chadds Ford
David Yurman Jewelers Chelsea Hotel
DBA The Wyndon Group City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program
Deitz & Watson Cooperage Wine and Whiskey Bar
Department of Medical Oncology Cross Winds Flight School
Dilworth Paxson D’Angelo’s Restaurant
Drs. Gomella and Family David Yurman
Electronic Ink Dock’s Oyster House/Knife & Fork Atlantic City
Firstrust Drexel University Men’s Basketball
Frankel Enterprises Electronic Ink
Heffler, Radetich & Saitta Fencing Academy of Philadelphia
Hi Fi House Fogo de Chao
Koegle Family Four Seasons Hotel
M&T Bank Kenneth Freeling and Sue Cimbricz
McCullough Models From My Harp – Cheryl Kripke Cohen
PREIT Gomella Family
Rodin IFC Henry A. Davidsen
Stradley Ronon Hidden Creek Golf Club
TD Bank Holt’s Cigar Company
Unique Products Hortman Aviation Services
US Bank J. Lohr
Jacques Ferber
Joseph Anthony Spa
Jump NEA
Kramer Portraits New York
La Prairie
Lacoste
Lacroix
Le Castagne
Lehigh Valley
Limoncello
Lord & Taylor, Bala Cywyd
Lucky Strikes
Manito Equestrian Center
May’s Landing Golf Club
McCullough’s Emerald Golf Links
Merion Country Club
Mid-Atlantic Restaurant
Milkboy
Monsu
Nangellini
Nicole Miller
Pennsylvania Paragliding
Philadelphia Sports Club
Piper Memorial Airport
Quaker State Light Sport Flight Academy, LLC.
Ralph Lauren
Ristorante Panorama
Saks Fifth Avenue, Bala Cynwyd
Salon Ziza
Segway Tours
Skirmish
St. Joe’s University Men’s Basketball
Target Masters Gold Membership
The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia
The Little Tuna
The Prime Rib
The Union Trust
The Vesper Club
Thomas J Duffy, Esq.
Tiffany’s
Time Restaurant
Twin Pines Stables and Unique Industries
Twisted Tail
Ultimate Shave
Union League of Philadelphia
Villanova University Men’s Basketball
Villanova University Football
Victory Brewing Co.
Vintage Wine Bar
West Avenue Grille
Whitewater Challengers




The Third Annual Men’s Event would not have been possible without the tremendous work and support of our Committee members:

Barry Bressler Rose Cunningham
Robert DeBolt Marc Feller
Marc Franzoni Peter Gistelinck
Bruce Goldman Tricia Gomella
Niels Haun Mark Juliano
Erik Knudsen Bryan Koegel
John LeVine Bill McCullough
Meredith Seigle Roger Vander Klock
Thomas Walls



Special thanks to Gerard Tomko Wedding Photography for donating his services in-kind.



Drugs targeting chromosomal instability may fight a particular breast cancer subtype

Richard Pestell, M.D., Ph.D, Director of the KCC

Another layer in breast cancer genetics has been peeled back.

A team of researchers at Jefferson’s Kimmel Cancer Center (KCC) led by Richard G. Pestell, M.D., PhD., FACP, Director of the KCC and Chair of the Department of Cancer Biology, have shown in a study published online Feb. 6 in the Journal of Clinical Investigation that the oncogene cyclin D1 may promote a genetic breakdown known as chromosomal instability (CIN). CIN is a known, yet poorly understood culprit in tumor progression.

The researchers used various in vitro and in vivo model systems to show that elevated levels of cyclin D1 promotes CIN and correlate with CIN in the luminal B breast cancer subtype. Cyclin D1 protein is elevated in breast, prostate, lung and gastrointestinal malignancies.

The findings suggest that shifting towards drugs targeting CIN may improve outcomes for patients diagnosed with luminal B subtype. Luminal B breast cancer has high proliferation rates and is considered a high grade malignancy.

Estrogen or progesterone receptor positive and HER2 positive cancers indicate luminal B, and about 10 percent of patients are diagnosed with it every year, though many do not respond well to treatment. The identification of CIN in luminal B provides a new therapeutic opportunity for these patients.

“Cyclin D1 has a well defined role in cell proliferation through promoting DNA replication,” says Dr. Pestell. “My team was the first to discover that cyclin D1 also has alternate functions, which include regulating gene transcription at the level of DNA. We were interested in discovering the function of DNA associated cyclin D1.”

To help answer this, the researchers, including lead author Mathew C. Casimiro, Ph.D., of the Department of Cancer Biology at Thomas Jefferson University, first needed to directly access cyclin D1′s role in gene regulation.

They applied an analysis known as ChIP sequencing to study the protein’s interactions with genes that comprise the entire mouse genome, and found it occupied the regulatory region of genes governing chromosomal stability with high incidence.

They went on to show cyclin D1 promoted aneuploidy and chromosomal rearrangements typically found in cancers.

Faulty chromosomes—either too many or too few, or even ones that are the wrong shape or size—have been shown to be the crux of many cancers. However, a major question of cancer genetics is the mechanisms of CIN. What causes the breakdown in chromosomal stability?

As cyclin D1 expression is increased in the early phases of tumorigenesis, cyclin D1 may be an important inducer of CIN in tumors.

To analyze the association between CIN and cyclin D1 expression in the context of breast cancer, the team aligned an expression of a 70-gene set with the highest CIN score against over 2,000 breast cancer samples. They stratified the samples based on previously described subtypes and aligned them with cyclin D1 expression profiled across the dataset.

A significant correlation among CIN, cyclin D1 and the luminal B subtype was identified, and it was apparent that the relationship between these levels was subtype specific.

“Interestingly, previous studies have presented contradictory results,” Dr. Pestell says. “Many studies have suggested a positive correlation between cyclin D1 expression and outcomes, while others have shown reduced survival. Here, we’ve dug deep, using a genome-wide analysis, and found that overexpression of the protein appears to be directly associated with the genes involved in CIN and this correlates with the luminal B subtype.”

Drugs targeting chromosomal instability for cancer therapy have been explored, but a sub-stratification rationale for the luminal B subtype has not been established. The research presented in this study suggests such a target is worthy of further investigation.

“There is a big drive towards using targeting therapies for stratified breast cancers,” says Dr. Casimiro. “What we are thinking is that there are a growing number of drugs that target aneuploidy, like AICAR and 17-AAG, that may be used as an adjuvant therapy in patients with luminal B breast cancer.”



KCC To Host Melanoma Research Foundation Symposium

Melanoma Research Foundation

http://www.melanoma.org

CURE OM has announced the inaugural Eyes on a Cure: Patient and Caregiver Symposium to be held on June 16th and 17th, 2012.  The meeting will be held one month after the first CURE OM Scientific Meeting (for physicians and researchers) with the goal of bringing the latest news from the ocular melanoma scientific community directly to patients and their loved ones.  Eyes on a Cure will bring patients, caregivers and researchers from around the world together to offer educational sessions, support groups led by oncology social workers, sessions on complementary therapies, as well as informal time for networking.

This first patient and caregiver symposium will be held in Philadelphia at the Kimmel Cancer Center of Thomas Jefferson University.  Confirmed speakers include: Carol Shields, Takami Sato, David Eschelman, Carin Gonsalves, and James Pingpank.

For more information about the symposium go to the MRF Symposium Announcement



Gordon Schwartz, M.D., Nominated to National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers Board

Gordon F. Schwartz, MD, MBA, FACS, director of the Jefferson Breast Care Center

Gordon F. Schwartz, MD, MBA, FACS, director of the Jefferson Breast Care Center, will represent the American Society of Breast Disease on the board of the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC).

The NAPBC is a consortium of national, professional organizations dedicated to the improvement of the quality of care and the monitoring of outcomes for patients with diseases of the breast.

Dr. Schwartz attended his first meeting as a member of the board in San Francisco the week of October 24 during the 2011 Clinical Congress of the American College of Surgeons.

Dr. Schwartz is an internationally renowned expert in breast diseases and a professor of surgery and medical oncology at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.  His practice has been dedicated to treating breast diseases, both benign and malignant, for more than 30 years.

In 2009, Dr. Schwartz became director of the Jefferson Breast Care Center—one of the first Academic Medical Institutions receiving full accreditation by NAPBC.



New Half-Match Bone Marrow Transplant Procedure Featured in Philadelphia Inquirer

Neal Flomenberg, M.D., chair of the Department of Medical Oncology at Jefferson and Dolores Grosso, DNP, co-principal investigator of the study, have developed a way to make stem-cell transplants work, even when only half the immune markers are matched.

Featured in the “Check Up” section of The Philadelphia Inquirer, this research has major implications. Half-match transplants would triple the pool of suitable donors, giving new hope to patients with terminal leukemia, lymphoma, sickle-cell anemia and other blood diseases. “You could help almost everybody,” said Grosso.

Learn more by reading “Check Up: Innovation in stem-cell donation.”



KCC Holds Annual “Celebration of Life” Event

On June 8th, 2011, The Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson honored our cancer survivors. The Celebration of Life was held in the Bluemle Life Sciences Building’s first floor area. We had great artwork, excellent entertainment, inspirational speakers, which included Jefferson’s PhD candidate and Susan Conley, a cancer survivor and author of “The Foremost Good Fortune” one of Oprah’s best reads for the month of February this year



Director of KCC, Dr. Richard Pestell, in July issue of Runner’s World

July 2011 Issue of Runner's World

Dr. Richard Pestell, director of the Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson and former national-class distance runner, was featured in the July issue of Runner’s World.

Dr. Pestell spoke with the magazine for the cover story titled “Outrunning Cancer”–which focused on the running community’s ability to raise million of dollars each year to fight cancer.

“When the story of cancer meets a runner’s story, the combination can be quite powerful,” said Dr. Pestell.

Read the full feature story here: “Outrunning Cancer: Team Effort” by John Brant.

Dr. John Wagner, of the medical oncology department and also a runner, was mentioned in the article, as well.



Melanoma Awereness Night At The Philles Organized By Kelly Kroll and the “Bonnie Kroll Melanoma Memorial Fund”


May is Melanoma Awareness Month. Kelly Kroll of Ambler PA has set up the “Bonnie Kroll Melanoma Memorial Fund” in honor of her mother who died in 2001 from uveal melanoma. The fund has raised over $150,000 to support research at the the Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and the Kimmel Cancer Center of Thomas Jefferson University. Kelly marked the 10th anniversary of the fund by organizing a special Melanoma Awareness night with the Philadelphia Phillies. Jefferson Doctors participated in the attached video and also were present to throw out the first pitch.

Below are some photos of the event at Citizens Bank Park and the check presentation prior to the game. The photos from Citizens Bank Park were provided by photo: Sarah F Wimberley / www.flickfoto.com



Jefferson Researchers Unlock Key to Personalized Cancer Medicine Using Tumor Metabolism

Identifying gene mutations in cancer patients to predict clinical outcome has been the cornerstone of cancer research for nearly three decades, but now researchers at the Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson have invented a new approach that instead links cancer cell metabolism with poor clinical outcome. This approach can now be applied to virtually any type of human cancer cell.

Michael P. Lisanti, M.D., Ph.D., Professor and Chair of Stem Cell Biology & Regenerative Medicine at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University, Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson

The researchers demonstrate that recurrence, metastasis, and poor clinical outcome in breast cancer patients can be identified by simply gene profiling cancer cells that are using ketones and lactate as a food supply.

These findings are reported in the April 15th online issue of Cell Cycle. The investigators are calling this new approach to personalized cancer medicine “Metabolo-Genomics.”

High-energy metabolites have long been suspected to “fuel” aggressive tumor cell behavior. The researchers used this premise to generate a gene expression signature from genetically identical cancer cells, but one cell group was fed a diet of high-energy metabolites. These lactate- and ketone-induced “gene signatures” then predicted recurrence, metastasis, and poor survival.

So, it appears that what cancer cells are eating determines clinical outcome, not necessarily new gene mutations.

Michael P. Lisanti, M.D., Ph.D., Professor and Chair of Stem Cell Biology & Regenerative Medicine at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University and a member of the Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson, together with other researchers,  found that treatment of human breast cancer cells with high-energy metabolites increases the expression of genes associated with normal stem cells,  including genes upregulated in embryonic and neural stem cells.

What’s more, lactate and ketones were found to promote the growth of normal stem cells, which has critical applications for stem cell transplantation and for a host of different human diseases.  It appears that these metabolites increase “stemness” in cancer cells, which drives poorer outcomes.

“Tumors that are using the body’s own nutrients (lactate and ketones) as “fuel” have a poorer outcome for patient survival, a behavior that now can be used to predict if a patient is at a high-risk for recurrence or metastasis,” Dr. Lisanti said. “This is getting to the heart of personalized cancer medicine. Now, we have identified a panel of biomarkers that directly links cancer metabolism with targeted cancer therapy.”

These findings suggest, according to the authors, that high-risk cancer patients (those whose cancer cells use high-energy metabolites) can be treated with new therapeutics that target oxidative mitochondrial metabolism, such as the antioxidant metformin, a drug that is also used to treat diabetes.

“Knowing the gene signatures of patients whose cancer cells are “eating” these metabolites for fuel is a pivotal piece of new information that we can use to diagnose and treat cancer patients,” said Martinez-Outschoorn, M.D., of the department of Medical Oncology at Thomas Jefferson University, and the lead author of the paper. “It’s not just that we know those patients will have poor survival; we know that those patients are using mitochondrial metabolism, which is the type of energy metabolism that we should be targeting with new anti-cancer drugs.”

The researchers propose that this new approach to diagnosis and subsequent treatment be called “Metabolo-Genomics” since it incorporates both cell metabolism and gene transcriptional profiling. This strategy could now be used to direct which patients receive a particular “tailored” anti-metabolic therapy.

Genetic markers, like expression of the mutationally activated HER2 gene, provide biomarkers that can be used to identify breast cancer patients at high-risk for recurrence or metastasis, and to modify their subsequent treatment with targeted therapies (i.e., herceptin, a drug used in aggressive breast cancers).  But with “Metabolo-Genomics,” it is now about using “global” cancer cell metabolism for these predictions.

“Just by feeding cancer cells a particular energy-rich diet, it changes their character, without introducing mutations or altering their genetic profile,” Dr. Lisanti said.  “We’ve only fed them high energy nutrients that help them to use their mitochondria, and this changes their transcriptional profile.  It’s a new biomarker for “lethal” cancers that we can now treat with the right drugs, such as the antioxidant metformin.

Dr. Lisanti and his colleagues believe that tumor metabolism is the new big picture for understanding how cancers undergo recurrence and metastasis.