July 20, 2017:

Did you hear the latest news from across the Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium? While it may seem impossible to keep pace with the member institutions in their fight against cancer, you do not have to miss the action. From historic moments, to monumental studies, to game-changing discoveries, you can celebrate the latest wins every time you tune in for another monthly edition of Across the Consortium!

University of Illinois Cancer Center

More than 600 people packed a student center at the University of Illinois at Chicago Friday afternoon to see three generations of Henrietta Lacks’s family tell her story together for the first time.

Lacks, who has been called “the most important woman in medical history,” had cancer cells removed from her body without her consent in 1951. Those extraordinary cells paved the way for medical advances such as the polio vaccine and cancer research, though Lacks herself died soon after without any compensation, and it took decades for her family to learn of her contribution or get any recognition for it.

Read more.

Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center

A new study led by graduate student Darrelle Colinot at Indiana University School of Medicine and published in the journal The Prostate may have found yet another cause of inflammation in the prostate — the common parasite Toxoplasma gondii. Inflammation of the prostate is closely associated with benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH) and prostate cancer. BPH affects nearly half of men by age 50 and is the leading cause of lower urinary tract symptoms. How BPH develops and what determines its severity is not fully understood, but it has become clear that inflammation is tightly associated with BPH symptoms.

In experiments performed in mice, researchers found that Toxoplasma gondii, a common single-celled parasite, disseminates to the prostate within two weeks after infection. Once in the prostate, it remains in the form of latent tissue cysts for at least 60 days, and can persist for the rest of the host’s life. The presence of these parasitic cysts results in chronic inflammation in the prostate.

Read more.

University of Iowa Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center

Ben Miller, MD, University of Iowa assistant professor of orthopedics and rehabilitation, will direct an effort to establish a multi-institutional registry to track the outcomes of sarcoma patients after treatment.

Miller was awarded a $100,250 grant from the Orthopaedic Research and Education Foundation/Musculoskeletal Tumor Society that will fund the initial stage of the project. He will work with a team of orthopedic oncologists from across 12 institutions to develop the registry.

Read more.

University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center

A new study finds half of early stage breast cancer patients relied on three or more people to help them process treatment options.

When a woman walks into an oncologist’s office, she’s usually not alone. In fact, a new study finds that half of women have at least three people standing behind them, sitting next to them or waiting at home to help face cancer.

Read more.

Michigan State University Breslin Cancer Center

Tuberous sclerosis complex, or TSC, is considered a rare genetic disease, yet for the estimated 50,000 patients in the United States and almost 2 million individuals worldwide, dealing with its symptoms can be overwhelming.

“It’s a devastating disease,” said Jeff MacKeigan, an adjunct associate professor at Michigan State University and lead author of a study now published in Nature Communication.

Read more.

Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota

The Minnesota Rally For Research is happening on Saturday, August 5 from 1:00 to 2:30 pm at the Minnesota State Capitol in Saint Paul. It’s one of many that will be taking place across the country in August.

Federal funding for research is a bi-partisan issue. Cancer affects the families of both Democrats and Republicans, and without NIH support, cancer research won’t happen.

At the Rally for Research, scientists, patients who have benefited from medical research and their families will tell their stories to the legislators and public. Masonic Cancer Center will have a special presence at the podium, as two of our own will be addressing the crowd:

  • Masonic Cancer Center Director, Douglas Yee, MD, will be speaking on the fundamental need for NIH research funding
  • Masonic Cancer Center Community Advisory Board Chair, sarcoma survivor, and advocate, Ruth Bachman will be speaking about how she personally benefitted from federally-funded research 

Event details.

Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center (University of Nebraska)

A Food and Drug Administration panel this week endorsed what could be a groundbreaking cancer treatment. The panel of 10 voted unanimously to recommend CAR T-Cell therapy for children and young adults with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, or ALL.

In the next few months, the FDA could decide to approve the therapy, which would make it the first gene therapy available in the U.S. The therapy is already being used at Nebraska Medicine for clinical trials.

Read more.

Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University

Early phase Northwestern Medicine research published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has demonstrated a potential new therapeutic strategy for treating deadly glioblastoma brain tumors.

The strategy involves using lipid polymer-based nanoparticles to deliver molecules to the tumors, where the molecules shut down key cancer drivers called brain tumor-initiating cells (BTICs).

Read more.

Penn State Cancer Institute

Scientists may be able to minimize the failure rate of drugs for diseases linked to high-calorie diets, such as colon cancer and type 2 diabetes, if they test treatments using a pig model, according to an international team of researchers.

In a study, researchers found that pigs, which have gut bacterial profiles and immune systems similar to humans, also maintain two distinct colonic stem cell populations – ASCL-2 and BMI-1. Mice lack colonic BMI-1 stem cells that play a critical role in how colon cancer forms – or carcinogenesis – and how material passes through the cell lining of the intestinal wall – or gut permeability.

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Purdue University Center for Cancer Research

On Target Laboratories LLC, a company developing a unique fluorescent imaging technology that could help surgeons identify and remove more cancerous tissue, has received Special Protocol Assessment approval from the Food and Drug Administration for its Phase 3 ovarian cancer intraoperative imaging clinical trial.

The company anticipates beginning enrollment for the clinical trial in October, 2017. On Target previously received FDA designation for a fast track development program for the OTL38 compound in ovarian cancer patients.

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Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey

Janet Gordils-Perez, DNP, RN, ANP-BC, AOCNP, from Plainsboro Township, has been named Chief Nursing Officer at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey. She was recently promoted from her position as Director of Oncology Nursing. Dr. Gordils-Perez came to Rutgers Cancer Institute in 2004 from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, where she was an adult nurse practitioner and a clinical research nurse.

“Over the past 13 years, Dr. Gordils-Perez has had a tremendous impact on our clinical operations. She works tirelessly to assure that the nursing program at Rutgers Cancer Institute is exemplary and supports an efficient practice,” notes Rutgers Cancer Institute Chief Medical Officer Deborah Toppmeyer, MD, who is also a professor of medicine at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

Read more.

University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center

A new method for how viruses ensure their maintenance in dividing cells has been identified by researchers at the University of Wisconsin McArdle Laboratory for Cancer Research and Carbone Cancer Center.

The study compared two closely related herpesviruses, Kaposi’s Sarcoma Herpesvirus (KSHV) and Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV). It showed that despite their similarities, each virus has evolved different ways to ensure their retention in cells. The work suggests that more mechanisms of viral propagation have yet to be discovered, and has implications for treating viral-associated diseases.

Read more.

Information for this story was compiled from BTCRC 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.