Vitamin K and Sorafenib Combination Demonstrated Anti-Tumor Effects in Pancreas Cancer and Hepatocellular Carcinoma

Dr. Brian Carr

Dr. Brian Carr

A combination of Sorafenib and Vitamin K had an effect in vitro on both human pancreas cancer and hepatocellular carcinoma, according to researchers from the Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson. Data from the two studies were presented at the AACR 100th Annual Meeting 2009 in Denver. (Abstract #5470 and #5483)

Vitamin K1 or Vitamin K2, plus Sorafenib (Nexavar) each have shown activity against the growth of human cancer cells by inhibiting the extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) pathway according to Brian Carr, M.D., Ph.D., a professor of Medical Oncology at the Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University. ERK plays a major role in cell growth of cancers.

Although Sorafenib has demonstrated success at extending survival in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC, or primary liver cancer), hand-foot syndrome is a common adverse effect that affects approximately 20 percent of patients who receive the drug. It typically manifests as painful sores on the soles of patients’ feet that can prevent the patients from walking, Dr. Carr said. Profound tiredness and weight loss is also seen in at least 30 percent of patients.

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Jefferson Awarded Highest Honor for Nursing Excellence

Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, Center City Campus, has been granted MAGNET® recognition for nursing excellence from the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s (ANCC) MAGNET Recognition Program®. ANCC is a subsidiary of the American Nurses Association.

Less than five percent of the hospitals in the nation have achieved the sought-after MAGNET recognition which honors superior patient care, nursing excellence and innovations in professional nursing practice.

Highly regarded as the “gold standard” of nursing excellence, MAGNET recognition provides a benchmark by which consumers and patients can measure the quality of care they can expect to receive at a hospital.  Hospitals that achieve MAGNET recognition are associated with improved patient care outcomes as well as attracting top notch physicians, nurses and healthcare professionals.

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Therapeutic Effect of Imatinib Improved with Addition of Chloroquine

Dr. Bruno Calabretta

Dr. Bruno Calabretta

The therapeutic effects of the blockbuster leukemia drug imatinib may be enhanced when given along with a drug that inhibits a cell process called autophagy, researchers from the Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson reported in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

The cell-death effect of imatinib (Gleevec) was potentiated when chloroquine, an autophagy inhibitor, was given with imatinib for the in vitro treatment of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) cells including the CML stem cells, according to Bruno Calabretta, M.D., Ph.D., professor of Cancer Biology at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University.

Autophagy is a process that allows cells to adapt to environmental stresses, and enables drug-treated CML cells to escape cell death. Imatinib is a tyrosine kinase inhibitor that suppresses proliferation and induces death of the malignant cells that cause CML. However, additional effects of the drug have not been studied in detail, according to Dr. Calabretta.

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New Therapeutic Target for Melanoma Identified

Dr. Andrew Aplin

Dr. Andrew Aplin

A protein called Mcl-1 plays a critical role in melanoma cell resistance to a form of apoptosis called anoikis, according to research published this week in Molecular Cancer Research.

The presence of Mcl-1 causes cell resistance to anoikis. This resistance to anoikis enables the melanoma cells to metastasize and survive at sites distant from the primary tumor, according to Andrew Aplin, Ph.D., an associate professor of Cancer Biology at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University, and a member of the Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson. The research was conducted at Albany Medical College in New York by Dr. Aplin and colleagues.

Mcl-1 is part of the Bcl-2 protein family, and is regulated by B-RAF proteins, which are mutated in approximately 60 percent of all human melanomas.  The Bcl-2 family includes several prosurvival proteins that are associated with the resistance of cancer cells to apoptosis, or cell death. Dr. Aplin and colleagues analyzed three candidate Bcl-2 proteins: Mcl-1, Bcl-2 and Bcl-XL.

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Jefferson’s Kimmel Cancer Center Researchers Receive $6.7 million Grant from Susan G. Komen for the Cure

Dr. Hallgeir Rui

Dr. Hallgeir Rui

Researchers from the Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson were awarded a Susan G. Komen for the Cure Promise Grant of almost $6.7 million for five years for continued breast cancer research.

The project represents a multidisciplinary team of scientists from a consortium that also includes Walter Reed Army Medical Center and DecisionQ Inc. in Washington D.C., as well as the Windber Research Institute and MDR Global Inc. in Windber, Pa.

The principal investigator, Hallgeir Rui, M.D., Ph.D., is a professor of Cancer Biology and Medical Oncology at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University. The co-principal investigator and leader of the clinical investigations associated with the project is Edith Mitchell, M.D., medical oncologist and clinical professor of Medicine and Medical Oncology at Thomas Jefferson University and Associate Director of Diversity Programs for the Kimmel Cancer Center.

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Cancer Programs Celebrate National Cancer Registrars Week,
April 13-17

National Cancer Registrars Week

Theme of “Cancer Registrars….Rock Solid” Emphasizes the Foundation Cancer Registrars Provide for Cancer Research, Awareness, Prevention and Quality Improvement

Cancer registrars around the world will join their colleagues and local community leaders to observe the annual National Cancer Registrars Week, April 13–17, 2009. The 2009 theme “Cancer Registrars…Rock Solid” reflects the dependable professionalism cancer registrars provide across the spectrum of cancer- related initiatives. Quality cancer data is central to the nation’s cancer fighting efforts and cancer registrars are the first link in capturing data on patients diagnosed with cancer.

Cancer registrars are data management experts in cancer treatment and research settings. They find, interpret and record a wide range of demographic and medical information on people with cancer. This information is submitted to state and national cancer registries for use in research, treatment and prevention initiatives. Cancer programs are thus able to accurately determine cancer patient populations, measure outcomes of treatment and survival, and formulate plans for quality improvement.

For more information, contact Fran Guiles at 215-955-0042 or Fran.Guiles@jeffersonhospital.org. The Oncology Data Services Department (Cancer Registry) is located at 1015 Chestnut Street, Suite 608.

pdf Governor Ed Rendell’s Proclomation



Jefferson Kimmel Cancer Center Administrator Appointed President-elect of Association of Cancer Executives

Joy Soleiman

Joy Soleiman

Joy Soleiman, MPA, the Clinical Administrator for the Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson, has been appointed president-elect of the Association of Cancer Executives.

The one-year appointment began in February at the association’s annual meeting. Ms. Soleiman will become president at the association’s annual meeting in 2010, to be held in San Diego. That is also a one-year appointment.

“It is an honor that my peers have elected me to this position,” Ms. Soleiman said. “The Association of Cancer Executives has been a valuable tool to me and many people. It strives to provide cancer executives with ample opportunities for personal education and development.

Ms. Soleiman has been a member of the Association of Cancer Executives for 15 years. She was halfway through serving a two-year term as secretary when she was appointed President-elect.

The secretary replacement is Patricia Dugan, RN, who is Administrative Director of the Jefferson Kimmel Cancer Center Network.



Jefferson Breast Cancer Researcher to Receive PA Income Tax Check-Off Grant

Dr. Hallgeir Rui

Dr. Hallgeir Rui

Hallgeir Rui, M.D., Ph.D, a professor of Cancer Biology at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson’s Kimmel Cancer Center, is one of three recipients of the Income Tax Check-Off for Breast & Cervical Cancer Research grants this year.

The $50,000 award will be used to conduct research to understand what causes the inactivation of STAT5, which is a protein that plays a role in breast cancer. According to Dr. Rui, women with inactive STAT5 protein have a seven times higher risk of death from breast cancer.

“We are truly excited to have been selected to receive this grant, especially since obtaining funding can be difficult even in the best economic times,” Dr. Rui said “STAT5 has significant clinical relevance and our laboratory has been studying its role for some time. These funds will allow us to complete the next phase of our research.”

The Income Tax Check-Off for Breast & Cervical Cancer Research is a program created by the Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition that enables Pennsylvania residents to donate their state tax refunds to breast or cervical cancer research. The legislation for the program was signed in 1997. It has since raised more than $2 million for breast and cervical cancer research.

Taxpayers can donate their refunds to breast and cervical cancer research by checking line 35 on their PA 40 form.



Proepithelin Encourages Cell Growth and Migration in Prostate Cancer

Dr. Andrea Morrione

Dr. Andrea Morrione

Researchers from Thomas Jefferson University have identified a protein that appears to play a significant role in the growth and migration of prostate cancer cells, especially androgen-independent prostate cancer cells. The study was published in the American Journal of Pathology.

They also found that prostate cancer cells express more of the protein when compared to normal prostate cells, according to Andrea Morrione, Ph.D., an associate professor and director of Urology Research for the Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson.

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Pre-emptive Treatment Helped Curtail Skin Toxicity with Panitumumab

Dr. Edith Mitchell

Dr. Edith Mitchell

With a pre-emptive, prophylactic skin regimen, patients who receive panitumumab for treatment of metastatic colorectal cancer may be able to avoid some of the skin-associated toxicities, according to data presented at the 2009 American Society of Clinical Oncology Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium in San Francisco.

Edith Mitchell, M.D., a clinical professor in the Department of Medical Oncology at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University, presented data from the study, which was the first prospective study to compare pre-emptive and reactive skin treatment for skin toxicities related to panitumumab. The study was co-led by Dr. Mitchell and Mario Lacouture, M.D., an assistant professor of Dermatology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.

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Jefferson Scientists Discover a Key Protein Regulator of Inflammation and Cell Death

Reporting in the journal Nature, researchers led by Emad Alnemri, Ph.D., professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in the Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson, discovered a key protein component involved in inflammation.

The protein, AIM2 (absent in melanoma 2), is involved in the detection and reaction to dangerous cytoplasmic DNA that is produced by infection with viral or microbial pathogens, or by tissue damage. AIM2 also appears to be a tumor suppressor, and its inactivation may play a role in the development of cancer, according to Dr. Alnemri.

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African-Americans Have Worse Prognosis Compared to Caucasians When Diagnosed With Colorectal Cancer

Dr. Edith Mitchell

Dr. Edith Mitchell

African-American patients with colorectal were more likely to present with worse pathological features at diagnosis and to have a worse five-year survival rate compared to Caucasian patients, according to a study conducted by researchers at Thomas Jefferson University.

The results are being presented at the 2009 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium. The study was led by Edith Mitchell, M.D., a clinical professor in the Department of Medical Oncology at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University. Dr. Mitchell is also associate director of Diversity Programs for the Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson.

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A Place for Me

The Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson hosted “A Place for Me” in Bluemle Life Science Building on Saturday, November 10, 2007. A family program, “A Place for Me” supports and educates children whose parents or grandparents have cancer. The November program featured art, games, and storytelling to help children understand the disease process, and to cope with fears about losing a loved one. Separate groups were held for teens and younger children (aged 5-12). A third group, held concurrently, highlighted communication strategies for adults wanting to talk to children about serious illness, treatment side-effects and end-of-life issues.



Navigating the New Normal

Cartoon Boot Camp

Tongue cancer survivor Christian “Patch” Patchell lead a “Cartoon Boot Camp” for young adult survivors on October 25, 2008. This innovative program, held in Hamilton Building, focused on using art as a tool to manage difficult feelings associated with cancer treatment and survivorship. A graphic artist and art instructor at University of the Arts, Patch shared a personal sketchbook that he developed over the course of his own radiation therapy. With help from Patch and volunteers from the Philadelphia Cartoonists Society, program attendees used their newly-acquired skills to create “artists’ trading cards,” which they swapped with one another at the end of the day. This event was held as part of Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson‘s “Navigating the New Normal” program, which addresses the needs of young adult survivors between the ages of 18-45.



Therapy May Block Expansion of Breast Cancer Cells

Dr. Richard Pestell

Dr. Richard Pestell

Breast cancer stem cells are known to be involved in therapy resistance and the recurrence of cancerous tumors. A new study appearing in Clinical and Translational Science shows the mechanisms governing stem cell expansion in breast cancer (called Notch activity), and finds that therapy targeting a protein called cyclin D1 may block the expansion of cancerous stem cells.

The study, conducted by Dr. Richard Pestell and colleagues at Thomas Jefferson University was the first to show that cyclin d1 is required for breast cancer growth in mice. As cyclin d1 is known to be over-expressed in human breast cancer, the findings may explain how cyclin d1 contributes to breast tumor growth, and provide the rationale for targeted therapies at cancerous stem cells in humans.

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Dr. Edith Mitchell Receives ‘Tree of Life’ Award

Dr. Edith Mitchell

Dr. Edith Mitchell

Edith P. Mitchell, M.D., clinical professor, Department of Medical Oncology at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University and associate director of Diversity Programs for the Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson, was recently honored with a ‘Tree of Life’ award from The Wellness of You, a local nonprofit health education and resource organization.

The ‘Tree of Life’ award recognizes health professionals who are committed to making a difference in community health. Recipients of this coveted award have made extraordinary contributions to health management in both the local and global community. Recipients include educators, physicians, authors, community activists, and masters of various disciplines such as martial arts and feng shui.

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Nobel Laureate Barry Marshall to Receive the Lennox K. Black International Prize for Excellence in Biomedical Research

Two-day Symposium at Jefferson Will Focus on Transformational Discoveries in Cancer Research

Barry Marshall, A.C., an Australian physician and researcher, was convinced that stomach ulcers developed from a bacterial infection and not from stress as commonly believed. In 1984, when working at the Royal Perth Hospital, he tested his theory on himself by drinking a petri dish of the bacteria Helicobacter Pylori (H. pylori). He developed the classic signs of gastritis, and treated himself with antibiotics. Soon after, other researchers confirmed the connection not only between ulcers and H. pylori, but also between gastric cancer and H. pylori.

Thomas Jefferson University is honoring Dr. Marshall, who is a Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of Western Australia, with the Lennox K. Black International Prize for Excellence in Biomedical Research. Dr. Marshall will receive the award during a two-day symposium, Transformational Discoveries in Cancer, from personal friend and Chair of the Symposium and Kimmel Cancer Center Director Dr. Rick Pestell and Vice President for International Affairs Dr. James Keen. The symposium will be held November 10 and 11, and take place on the Jefferson campus at the Bluemle Life Sciences Building, 233 S. 10th Street.

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Dr. Baserga presents latest findings at the 7th International Symposium on Translational Research in Oncology

Translational scientists from around the globe will assemble in Huntington Beach this October for the 7th International Symposium on Translational Research in Oncology. The program, developed by co-chairs Dennis J. Slamon M.D., Ph.D., and John Crown M.D., M.P.H., includes discussions on the latest translational research developments, to improve the clinical outcomes for cancer patients.

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Thomas Jefferson University Hospital Cancer Program Recognized by U.S. News & World Report

The trusted U.S. News & World Report, in its 2008 ratings of America’s Best Hospitals, ranked the Thomas Jefferson University Hospital cancer program among the 50 best in the country. Ranked at number 28, the TJUH cancer program surpassed those of many prestigious institutions. The rankings include over 5,000 hospitals nationally, of which “only 170 scored high enough to appear in any of the specialty rankings.” The ratings are related to the hospital’s NCI designation of its cancer center (Jefferson’s Kimmel Cancer Center recently renewed its designation with NCI to 2013), the ability to deal with unusual medical cases, the availability of key new cancer technologies, the hospital’s patient survival rate, its reputation and name recognition, and the quality of cancer center research and support programs. These rankings are highly regarded by health care professionals, academic researchers, and patients alike.

Dr. Richard Pestell, M.D., Ph.D., Vice President for Oncology Services at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and Director of the Kimmel Cancer Center commented on this score by stating that “This is not only a victory for the exceptional physicians, nurses, staff, and scientists working hard at Jefferson’s Kimmel Cancer Center, but it is a success for the people of Philadelphia. We are proud to offer our patients the latest cancer treatment, and look forward to opening our new Oncology Infusion Center that has been designed specifically with the holistic comprehensive care of our patients in mind.”



Jefferson Researchers Show Antibody to Breast Cancer- Secreted Protein Blocks Metastasis

Dr. Richard Pestell

Dr. Richard Pestell

Scientists at the Kimmel Cancer Center at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia have made a key discovery about the mechanism of breast cancer metastasis, the process by which cancer spreads. Focusing on a gene dubbed “Dachshund,” or DACH1, they are beginning to pinpoint new therapeutic targets to halt the spread of cancer.

Reporting their findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers led by Richard Pestell, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson and professor and chair of Cancer Biology at Jefferson Medical College, showed that breast cancer cells secrete a common inflammatory protein, IL-8. When the scientists blocked the protein in mice with an antibody, they found that it completely halted the spread of breast cancer to the lungs.

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