The message about pancreatic cancer is changing, says renowned surgeon Charles J. Yeo, M.D.
New imaging techniques, improved early detection and screening of high-risk groups, and new therapies on the horizon have begun to change the way pancreatic cancer is viewed. “There’s been a shift in the way we treat and think about this disease,” says Dr. Yeo, the Samuel D. Gross Professor and Chair of Surgery at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and the Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson in Philadelphia. “We’re actually making great progress when it comes to pancreatic cancer.”
It’s against this background that Jefferson, Jefferson’s Kimmel Cancer Center and the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN), a national advocacy organization, are sponsoring a pancreatic cancer symposium on Saturday, April 5, 2008 on the Thomas Jefferson University campus. The program will be held in the Dorrance H. Hamilton Building, 1001 Locust Street, beginning at 9 a.m. It is free to the public.
The Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson in Philadelphia is holding a program on Wednesday, April 2, 2008 for patients, families and caregivers whose lives have been touched by cancer.
“Life After A Cancer Diagnosis” will feature speakers addressing topics ranging from exercise and cancer fatigue to caregiver issues to questions about fertility and sexuality after diagnosis and treatment. The session on sexuality and cancer is particularly focused on young adults ages 18 to 45 with cancer – a group, notes Kimmel Cancer Center clinical administrator Joy Soleiman, MPA, whose needs are sometimes overlooked.
Dr. Michael Lisanti
Renowned cell biologist Michael P. Lisanti, M.D., Ph.D., the Margaret Q. Landenberger Professor in Breast Cancer Research at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University and the Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson in Philadelphia, has been named Editor-in-Chief of The American Journal of Pathology (AJP). His term begins in July.
Dr. Lisanti, who serves as director of the newly established Jefferson Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine Center, is also professor of Cancer Biology at Jefferson Medical College.
Dr. Michael Lisanti
Thomas Jefferson University has established a new center to study the biology, behavior and the potential medical uses of adult stem cells in a variety of diseases, including neurological disease and cancer.
The Jefferson Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine Center will be directed by renowned cell biologist Michael P. Lisanti, M.D., Ph.D., professor of Cancer Biology at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia and the Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson.
According to Dr. Lisanti, who is also the Margaret Q. Landenberger Professor of Breast Cancer Research at Jefferson, one center focus will be on the uses of adult stem cells for tissue regeneration in a variety of injuries and disease conditions, such as brain injury after stroke, Parkinson’s disease and the damaged heart and cardiovascular system after heart attack.
Dr. Marja Nevalainen
Researchers at Jefferson’s Kimmel Cancer Center in Philadelphia have shown that they can effectively kill prostate cancer cells in both the laboratory and in experimental animal models by blocking a signaling protein that is key to the cancer’s growth. The work proves that the protein, Stat5, is both vital to prostate cancer cell maintenance and that it is a viable target for drug therapy.
The scientists, led by Marja Nevalainen, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of Cancer Biology at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University, wanted to prove that Stat5 was indeed necessary for prostate cancer cells to be viable. They blocked the protein’s expression and function in several ways, including siRNA inhibition, antisense inhibition and adenoviral gene delivery of an inhibitory form of Stat5. All of these techniques killed the prostate cancer cells in cell culture. The researchers also showed when they transplanted such cancerous tissue into mice and blocked Stat5 expression, prostate tumors failed to grow.
Dr. Brian Carr
Liver cancer specialists at Jefferson’s Kimmel Cancer Center in Philadelphia are beginning an 18-month study of a new treatment for liver cancer. The therapy entails injecting tiny beads that emit small amounts of radiation into the liver’s main artery while also blocking the blood supply feeding the cancer’s growth.
The technique, called radioembolization, has been approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration for use in inoperable liver cancer. This is the first time that the particular technology, called SIR-Spheres microspheres, which is FDA-approved for treating colon cancer that has spread to the liver, is being studied in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma, or primary liver cancer (cancer that originates in the liver). The trial, which is led by Brian Carr, M.D., FRCP, Ph.D., professor of Medical Oncology at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University, includes patients from the University of Texas’ M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and the University of Pittsburgh.
Joy Soleiman, MPA, Clinical Administrator of the Kimmel Cancer Center, was elected to a two year term as Secretary of the Association of Cancer Executives (ACE). It was officially announced at their annual meeting in San Francisco February 16 to 19, 2008. ACE is a leading cancer administrator networking organization for over a decade with over 350 members in 44 states.. It is a national organization whose focus is to promote the advancement of its members’ professional standing and personal achievement through continuing education in oncology management, research, strategic planning, and program development. Patricia Dugan, RN, Administrative Director of Kimmel Cancer Center Network, serves on the Board of Directors of ACE.
Dr. Steven McMahon
Scientists at Jefferson’s Kimmel Cancer Center in Philadelphia have made an extraordinary advance in the understanding of the function of a gene previously shown to be part of an 11-gene “signature” that can predict which tumors will be aggressive and likely to spread. The gene, USP22, encodes an enzyme that appears to be crucial for controlling large scale changes in gene expression, one of the hallmarks of cancer cells.
As a result, USP22 immediately becomes a potential target for new anti-cancer drugs, says Steven McMahon, Ph.D., associate professor of Cancer Biology at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University, who led the work. And it solves a bit of a biological mystery.
Dr. Jonathan Brody
A protein that helps prevent a woman’s body from rejecting a fetus may also play an important role in enabling pancreatic cancer cells to evade detection by the immune system, allowing them to spread in the body.
Researchers at Jefferson’s Kimmel Cancer Center in Philadelphia found that the metastatic cancer cells in the lymph nodes of patients with pancreatic cancer produce enough of the protein, IDO, to essentially wall-off the immune system’s T-cells and recruit cells that suppress the immune system’s response to the tumor. The findings might mean not only a better way to detect pancreatic cancer spreading to lymph nodes, but also could enhance tumor immune therapy strategies against the fast-moving, deadly disease.
Dr. Marja Nevalainen
Scientists at Jefferson’s Kimmel Cancer Center in Philadelphia have found that a signaling protein that is key to prostate cancer cell growth is turned on in nearly all recurrent prostate cancers that are resistant to hormone therapy. If the findings hold up, the protein, called Stat5, may be a specific drug target against an extremely difficult-to-treat cancer.
In addition, the researchers, led by Marja Nevalainen, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of Cancer Biology at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University, also showed that the convergence of two biological pathways could be responsible for making such hormone-resistant prostate cancers especially dangerous. They have found that a synergy between Stat5 and hormone receptors in recurrent prostate cancer cells helps each maintain its activity. Dr. Nevalainen and her co-workers report their findings January 1, 2008 in the journal Cancer Research.
Dr. Daniel Monti
Scientists at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and Jefferson’s Kimmel Cancer Center have received approval for a first-of-its kind study on the effect high dose vitamin C has on non-Hodgkin lymphoma patients. Researchers from the Jefferson-Myrna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine and Kimmel Cancer Center in conjunction with the National Institutes of Health will study whether high doses of vitamin C can slow the progression of the deadly disease.
“This is a very unique study for a set of patients who have really run out of options,” said Daniel Monti, M.D., director of the Myrna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine, and primary investigator of the study. “Vitamin C administered intravenously has shown great promise in the laboratory and there has been some anecdotal data in cancer patients, but no one has really ever run a detailed study on humans. Vitamin C doesn’t cost much and is very low in toxicity, making it a particularly desirable agent for further study.”