March 20, 2016:

A game-plan is strategy in motion – the key to a winning plan is insightful strategy. The team-research culture of the Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium fosters such insight, and BTCRC member institutions are positioned to win. In this month’s edition of Across the Consortium, we take note of crucial plays made possible by the members’ plan to rapidly drive from ideas to new approaches to cancer treatment.

University of Illinois Cancer Center

Certain cancer drugs now in clinical trials may actually increase the risk for liver cancer, according to a new study by University of Illinois at Chicago researchers published in the journal Cancer Cell.

The drugs target a family of molecules called Akt proteins that are known to drive the uncontrolled growth, division, and immortality of cancer cells. Akt proteins exist in three known variations, called isoforms – Akt1, Akt2 and Akt3 – and are activated in almost every cancer.

A handful of new drugs that target the Akt proteins are already in clinical trials, but researchers don’t know what to expect about their potential for side effects – especially if two or all three Akt proteins are suppressed simultaneously.

Read more.

Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center

An Indiana University cancer researcher has been invited to speak on Capitol Hill during a congressional briefing on stigma and its impact on public health.

Lisa Carter-Harris, PhD, assistant professor at the Indiana University School of Nursing and a researcher at the IU Simon Cancer Center, will open “The Impact of Stigma on Public Health and Public Health Policy” briefing on March 2. The briefing is coordinated by Lung Cancer Alliance, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy organization.

Read more.

University of Iowa Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center

A solar cell no larger than your fingernail is showing great promise as a testing method for certain cancers.

The chip, covered with millions of nanowires and the antibodies for a specific cancer, can quickly and inexpensively determine if a person has the disease. All that’s needed is a drop of blood and a high-powered laser to view the nanowires—which are 1,000 times smaller than a hair on your head and not even visible with an optical microscope.

Read more.

University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center

Screening for cancer has many obvious benefits – you’re preventing cancer or catching it early. But each screening tool also comes with potential harms or risks.

A new study finds most cancer screening guidelines do not clearly spell out the benefits and harms of the recommended actions.

Researchers from the University of Michigan Health System examined 55 professional guideline recommendations for cancer screening or prevention. They found 69 percent did not quantify and present benefits and harms in comparable terms.

Read more.

Michigan State University Breslin Cancer Center

An MSU professor’s smart laser will change the way doctors detect skin cancer.

This laser has been in the making for years and Jim Geyer went over to MSUs chemistry building to check out exactly how it works.

Read more and watch the interview.

Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota

Ovarian cancer is the most lethal gynecologic malignancy. While there are treatment options, the survival rate of women with epithelial ovarian cancer has changed little in the last 30 years.

Now, a National Institute of Health (NIH) grant awarded to University of Minnesota experts will aid a study for a new immunotherapy that could potentially treat the deadly cancer. The project will be led by Bruce Walcheck, Ph.D., professor in the University of Minnesota Veterinary and Biomedical Services Department at the College of Veterinary Medicine, Jimmy Wu, Ph.D. associate professor in the University of Minnesota Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences Department at the College of Veterinary Medicine, and Dan Kaufman, M.D., Ph.D., director of the cell therapy program at the University of California- San Diego.

Read more.

Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center (University of Nebraska)

Thanks to improvements in prevention, early detection and treatment, more than a million people in the U.S. are survivors of colon or rectum cancer. Knowing the facts can help you take the steps you need to avoid this deadly disease. Colon and rectal surgeon Sean Langenfeld, MD, answers important questions about colon cancer.

How common is colorectal cancer? Colorectal cancer is the third most common type of cancer in the United States and the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths among both men and women. Approximately 5 percent of people in the United States will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer during their lifetime.

Read more.

Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University

Cancer cells are smart – and eventually some figure out a way to dodge even the most powerful medications. That’s why finding ways to overcome drug resistance is a critical component in breast cancer research.

It’s a frightening scenario for many patients fighting breast cancer. When cancer cells grow resistant to the most common and effective treatments available – then what?

Researchers at Northwestern Medicine tested a combination therapy – a common and powerful drug that targets a specific type of breast cancer cell, plus an experimental pill they hoped would make the standard treatment work even better.

Read more.

Penn State Cancer Institute

Dr. Edward Gunther is on a mission to help find the cure for breast cancer. On Thursday, The Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition recognized Dr. Gunther for his work.

The PBCC presented him with a $50,000 research grant during a ceremony at the Penn State Hershey medical Center.

Dr. Gunther is working on breakthrough research in finding the link between cancer and relapse.

Read more.

Purdue University Center for Cancer Research

Researchers involved in a national effort to develop cancer treatments that harness nanotechnology are recommending pivotal changes in the field because experiments with laboratory animals and efforts based on current assumptions about drug delivery have largely failed to translate into successful clinical results.

The assessment was advanced in a perspective piece that appeared in the National Cancer Institute’s Cancer Nanotechnology Plan 2015, a 10-year roadmap concerning the use of nanotechnology to attack cancer.

Read more.

Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey

Research from an investigator at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey and colleagues from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and other facilities, shows differences in a certain type of small protein vary by race and may contribute differently to the development of lung cancer in African Americans and European Americans. Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey researcher Sharon R. Pine, PhD, assistant professor of medicine at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, is the co-lead author of the work to be published in the March 4 issue of “Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention”.

Read more.

University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center

For multiple myeloma patients who have relapsed, determining how to proceed with treatment is done on a trial and error basis. With an emphasis on personalized medicine, UW Carbone Cancer Center researchers are working toward new methods that may help predict the best course of treatment for individual patients.

Shigeki Miyamoto, PhD, professor of oncology at the Carbone Cancer Center, and a team of collaborators are developing new testing tools which greatly improve the ability to predict chemotherapy sensitivities and push diagnostic research for multiple myeloma forward.

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.