Philanthropy is critical to the mission of the University of Colorado Cancer Center. Donors who are able to make gifts of any amount help CU Cancer Center members contribute to breakthrough research and improved patient outcomes.
Intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasms (IPMNs) are cystic lesions that can form by the ducts of the pancreas. They generally are asymptomatic and discovered in the course of testing for other conditions.
Cancer is a disease of ripples – from symptoms that precede a diagnosis to treatment, side effects, and goals for long-term survival. It can impact every facet of life, for the person who receives the diagnosis as well as the person who is their caregiver.
A unique treatment combining radiation and immunotherapy can eradicate pancreatic tumors while stopping the cancer from spreading, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Colorado Cancer Center.
For 30% to 40% oflymphomapatients who receive CAR T therapy, the treatment is a godsend. Typically given to lymphoma patients for whom other treatments have proven ineffective, CAR T therapy involves removing immune cells from the body via a blood draw, reengineering them to become better cancer fighters, then reintroducing them to the bloodstream, where they seek out and destroy cancer cells.
For many pediatric cancer patients and their families, “scanxiety” is a very real and very scary feeling – the worry that can precede scans before treatment, and the uncertainty stemming from scans after treatment is completed.
Whole-brain radiation therapy used to treat brain metastases is a significant cancer treatment that, while generally well-tolerated, can have serious long-term side effects, including dementia. Neither clinicians nor patients undertake it lightly.
There’s a growing body of research supporting the satisfactions of gardening, from its positive impact as a mental health intervention to its association with improvement in cognitive function and reduction in stress, anger, and fatigue.
Squamous cell head and neck cancers — cancers that develop in the outer layers of tissue in the oral cavity, throat, larynx, and sinonasal cavity — are the sixth most prevalent cancer worldwide. The five-year survival rate for this type of cancer is 40% to 50%, with a worse prognosis for patients with advanced disease.
Channing E. Tate, PhD, MPH, University of Colorado Cancer Center Rising Star, has seen through her personal and professional experiences how aging populations and communities of color often fall through the cracks of health care, especially at the end of life.
Over the past decade, human papillomavirus (HPV) has increasingly been identified as a significant cause of certain head and neck cancers – for example, evidence suggests it causes 70% of oropharyngeal cancers in the United States.
Already regarded as one of the country’s leaders in CAR T-cell therapy, University of Colorado Cancer Center member M. Eric Kohler, MD, PhD, has received a $150,000 Scholar Award from the American Society of Hematology (ASH) to investigate a method to make CAR T cells function even better.
Four early career researchers from the University of Colorado Cancer Center have received Institutional Research Grants (IRGs) from the American Cancer Society (ACS) for 2023 through the parent grant awarded to the CU Cancer Center. IRGs are intended to support junior faculty members to obtain preliminary results that will enable them to compete successfully for federal research grants.
For many people who receive a cancer diagnosis, one of the first things they want is information – about the cancer itself, about treatment options, about side effects they may experience, about what it all means.
Cancer is a disease driven by gene mutations. These mutated genes in cancer fall into two major categories: tumor suppressors and oncogenes. Mutations in tumor suppressor genes can allow tumors to grow unchecked – a case of no brakes – while mutations in oncogenes can activate cell proliferation, pushing the gas pedal all the way to the floor.
A project co-created by University of Colorado Cancer Center leader Jamie Studts, PhD, to boost lung cancer screening rates in Kentucky has proven so successful that Studts has received a grant from the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation (BMSF) to create an enhanced version of the program that will roll out in two more states in the coming years.
When his mom fell off a ladder on New Year’s Eve a number of years ago, after deciding that was as good a night as any to clean the leaves from her gutters, one of the first things Ross Camidge, MD, PhD, did after she got home from the hospital was take her pulse.
When it comes to treating cancer, doctors have many tools in their arsenal. For decades, cancer was treated with surgery, chemotherapy and radiation — broad tools that affect healthy cells along with the cancer cells they are meant to eradicate.
As growing numbers of people diagnosed with cancer receive testing to have their cancer genetically sequenced, researchers and clinicians are learning volumes more about specific mutations and genetic alterations that can occur in each type of cancer.
2022 was an impressive year for the University of Colorado Cancer Center, and we were able to share more than 125 stories highlighting our research, patient care, education, and community partnerships.
Jane Hart is a lot of things: extremely proud mom of Shelby, daughter extraordinaire and apple of Jane’s eye. Dog mom to (deservedly spoiled) Maizy, Taco, Winnie, and Walter. Collector of Talavera pottery. Unabashed “Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” fan. A surprising 71, because she looks at least 10 years younger.
Cancer survivor – stage 4 laryngeal cancer that necessitated a tracheostomy and laryngectomy, that forced her to relearn how to breathe and talk.
Today, the University of Colorado Cancer Center released new research that showcases chemotherapy treatment before and after surgery for pancreatic cancer as the most effective combination for patients.
New research from the University of Colorado (CU) Cancer Center highlights the need for additional data collection for women hoping to have successful pregnancies while undergoing treatment for lung cancer. Specifically, they focus on the diagnosis of advanced oncogene-driven non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) that disproportionately affects women of reproductive age.
Xander Bradeen began his undergraduate studies at the University of Colorado Boulder planning to major in neuroscience as a pre-med student, the first in his family to pursue a college education. Then he learned about prairie voles.
Amanda Vegter did not have time for whatever it was that she felt on the side of her left breast.
She was six weeks into her fourth year of veterinary school, she had backpacking trips to go on with her boyfriend, walks to go on with her two dogs, plus plans for a summer externship in South Africa. She was busy and happy and it was probably nothing.
But that firm spot she first felt on her breast in January 2021 while working out at her boyfriend’s house didn’t just go away. Now she can look back and shake her head – of course it was breast cancer.
A team of scientists and University of Colorado Cancer Center members are collaborating to understand pre-malignancy in lung cancer and decrease the risk of developing the disease, supported by a grant to promote such multi-investigator research.
When a person has lived with colorectal cancer for a long time, and gotten to the point of not responding to therapies as much or at all, it’s common to develop cachexia. This debilitating condition is a multi-systemic wasting syndrome that can cause weight loss, a loss of muscle and bone mass, fatigue, and frailty.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men and, when caught and treated early, is considered curable. But when prostate cancer becomes metastatic, meaning it spreads to distant organs, it is no longer considered curable and novel treatment strategies are needed.
Initially, the big picture looks severe: Pediatric brain tumors are now the number one cause of death for children diagnosed with cancer.
Though leukemia is four times more common in pediatric patients than brain tumors, about 90% of children diagnosed with leukemia will experience a cure “because we’ve done such a good job of researching leukemia, and treatments have come so far that cure rates have improved significantly,” says Rajeev Vibhakar, MD, PhD, MPH, a professor of pediatric hematology and oncology in the University of Colorado School of Medicine. “We need to see that same level of support and advancement in finding cures for pediatric brain tumors.”
Researchers at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus have discovered how to extract critical information about breast cancer tumors and disease progression by analyzing blood plasma rather than using more invasive tissue biopsies.
“This is simply a blood draw,” said the study’s senior co-author Peter Kabos, MD, associate professor of medicine in the medical oncology division at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and CU Cancer Center member. “This allows us to look under the surface to see the defining characteristics of the disease. The advantage is that we don’t need to do repeated tissue biopsies.”
For Isaiah Richardson, conducting research as an American Cancer Society Diversity in Cancer Research Intern this summer was an important academic and professional experience, but it was also personal.
Less than a year ago, Ken Herfert got a puppy and named her Bailey after the Colorado town where she was born.
This was a big deal for several reasons, including the responsibility of adopting a new family member, but perhaps the biggest was this: About six months after receiving a diagnosis of esophageal cancer in early 2018, Herfert’s oncologist in California told him he had maybe a year to live, maybe less.
The effects of cancer are not just physical, especially in advanced stages of the disease. People living with a cancer diagnosis may experience depression, anxiety, and fear, or feel demoralized by the weight of new and unanticipated burdens.
Among the biggest obstacles in studying and treating brain tumors are the blood-brain and blood-tumor barriers (BBTB). Generally, just a small amount of drug that is injected into the blood to treat brain tumors is able to penetrate blood vessel walls and accumulate in the brain.
A cancer diagnosis can be difficult to work through in the best of circumstances, but factor in barriers related to language, insurance status, educational achievement, geographic location, income level, and more, and the cancer journey — everything from prevention and screening to diagnosis and treatment — can become nearly impossible to traverse.
A new study from the University of Colorado Cancer Center explores which lung cancer patients are the best candidates for novel therapies that directly target a gene identified as driving certain cancers.
Some 100 researchers from around the world were in Aurora last week to discuss the latest findings and news around Kaposi sarcoma herpesvirus (KSHV), the virus that causes a type of cancer known as Kaposi sarcoma.
The bad news about endometrial cancer — cancer that begins in the lining of the uterus — is that it is one of the few cancers that is increasing in incidence even as most other cancers are on the decline, thanks to advances in treatment and prevention.
It was summer 2021, and the sarcoma that had started in the Denver resident’s left thigh seemed to be under control, subdued by radiation and chemotherapy following a surgery in 2018 to remove the initial tumor and another surgery in 2019 to remove cancerous tumors in his groin. McNeilly was doing so well, in fact, that his doctors at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital authorized a “chemo vacation” to give his body a break from some of the side effects of the treatment.
Three University of Colorado Cancer Center scientists have received a combined total of almost $2 million in grant funding from the American Cancer Society (ACS) to support research addressing a broad spectrum of cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.
PIK3CA is a gene that makes an enzyme called PI3K, which is involved in many important cell functions. When PIK3CA mutates, however, it can make the PI3K enzyme become overactive and cause cancer cells to grow.
In recognition of National Cancer Survivors Day on June 5, we wanted to share how far cancer survivorship has come, our efforts at the University of Colorado Cancer Center to further the research that results in survivorship, and some of our survivor stories from the past year.
Molly the golden retriever was a fan of cookies. Whenever there was a plate of them nearby, she kept her eye on it, waiting for her chance to sneak one or five. She was a fan of water, too, even after she had surgery to remove her left front leg following an osteosarcoma, or bone cancer, diagnosis in April 2017.
Among the many lessons collectively learned during the initial months of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic was this: The experience was uncharted psychological and emotional terrain. It wasn’t uncommon for people across the globe to express uncertainty about how to navigate new stresses and new emotions.
Hormone therapy is often used to treat prostate cancer that has spread to other parts of the body, but many patients develop resistance to hormone therapy, causing their disease to become more aggressive and potentially more deadly.
This year, lung cancer will account for an estimated 130,000 deaths in the United States – approximately 25% of all cancer deaths. Among those deaths, people who are Black will be disproportionately represented.
As a former dancer and dance instructor, CU Cancer Center member Jennifer Raybin, PhD, knows the power the creative arts hold to help people through challenging times. As a nurse practitioner who led the Palliative Care Program at Children’s Hospital Colorado, she knows the creative arts can be especially helpful for children and young adults with cancer. Creative activities help patients deal with symptoms, improve their mood, and even ease disease and treatment symptoms like pain, nausea, and fatigue.
The development of the anti-cancer immunotherapy drugs called immune checkpoint inhibitors has improved treatment for many cancer patients, but patients with mucosal melanomas — melanomas that occur not on the skin but in the mucous membranes in the head, neck, eyes, respiratory tract, and genitourinary region — are particularly resistant to immune checkpoint inhibitors for reasons researchers don’t fully understand.
An enzyme that has been identified as instrumental in the progression of many types of cancer is meeting its match in inhibitors synthesized and evaluated by University of Colorado (CU) Cancer Center researchers.
While conducting research for her doctoral dissertation, Channing Tate, PhD, MPH, spoke with 144 older Black adults about hospice care – what they knew about it, whether they’d consider it, what their experiences with hospice had been.
A University of Colorado (CU) Cancer Center researcher has found, through extensive data analysis, that the youngest patients with brain tumors – those ages birth to 3 months – have about half the five-year survival rate as children ages 1 to 19.
For years, surgery for patients with stage III melanoma — melanoma that has spread to the lymph nodes — involved removing those lymph nodes along with the primary tumor. Known as completion lymph node dissection (CLND), the surgery was meant to ensure that no cancer remained after surgery.
The Tumor-Host Interactions Program (THI) at the University of Colorado Cancer Center has awarded four CU Cancer Center researchers $30,000 each to gain preliminary data using the Multiplex Ion Beam Imager (MIBI) housed in the cancer center’s Human Immune Monitoring Shared Resource (HIMSR) to support a competitive national grant proposal. The selected researchers are expected to submit a national competitive grant proposal within six months of completing their THI-MIBI pilot studies.
Can dietary strategies like intermittent fasting or time-restricted eating help breast cancer survivors prevent their tumors from recurring? It’s a question researchers at the University of Colorado (CU) Cancer Center are looking to answer with a new study funded by a $3 million R01 grant from the National Cancer Institute.
On this World Cancer Day, the University of Colorado (CU) Cancer Center looks back to earlier this week when President Biden reignited his Cancer Moonshot initiative, setting ambitious goals to “reduce the death rate from cancer by at least 50% over the next 25 years and improve the experience of people and their families living with and surviving cancer — and by doing this and more, end cancer as we know it today.”
University of Colorado (CU) Cancer Center leader Wells Messersmith, MD, has been named chief medical officer of oncology services at UCHealth. In this new role, Messersmith will oversee cancer care at all UCHealth locations with a focus on expanding advanced treatments and the clinical trials UCHealth offers in partnership with the CU Cancer Center.
Comedian Louie Anderson — known for his stand-up routines, as well as a hosting stint on “Family Feud,” his animated series “Life With Louie,” and a more recent role on the FX comedy series “Baskets” — died January 21of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. He was 68.
This was another exciting year for the University of Colorado Cancer Center, and we were able to share more than 80 stories spotlighting our members and their research. We also shared the cancer journeys of some of our patients.
Of the 18,000 people diagnosed with large B-cell lymphoma each year, only half will be successfully treated with chemotherapy. The 9,000 remaining patients typically have poor outcomes, with only 25% responding to additional, higher-intensity chemotherapy, followed by a stem cell transplant.
The University of Colorado Cancer Center is pleased to announce several leadership transitions that will support the center in its mission to overcome cancer through innovation, discovery, prevention, early detection, multidisciplinary care, and education.
It’s worth noting, in light of recently published research, that a majority of people won’t be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetimes. According to the National Cancer Institute, about 40% of people will, which means 60% won’t.
Sandra Luna-Fineman, MD, treats children and adolescents with cancer from around the U.S. in her role as a pediatric oncologist at Children’s Hospital Colorado, but she knows that children in low- and middle-income countries around the world need her help the most.
One of the primary tools that oncologists use to stage cancers is the PET (positron emission tomography) scan, an imaging test that uses a small amount of radioactive sugar to detect metabolically active areas within the body.
Lung cancer screening is recommended only for those who are at high risk for the disease — adults ages 50–80 who smoke at least 20 packs a year — but even among members of that high-risk group, screening rates remain low, ranging from 5% to 20% of those eligible for the screening CT scan.
“When you lose hope, you lose everything,” says Ron Randolph. “It’s like you’re in the bottom of a hole and you see this light at the top of the hole. It’s a very small light, but there’s no way to escape.”
There are two things most people believe about lung cancer, says Jamie Studts, PhD, co-leader of the Cancer Prevention & Control Program at the CU Cancer Center: Those who suffer from it most likely caused it by using tobacco, and the prognosis for surviving the disease is poor.
The cancer survivorship journey can have many components, but one of the most important is regular exercise. Physical activity for individuals who have completed cancer treatment can build stamina, reduce anxiety, improve quality of life and physical fitness, and even improve survival outcomes.
One of the reasons why cancer continues developing and growing is not just because cancer cells exist, but because they can recruit help from the body’s own blood vessels, stromal cells, and immune cells.
Recent advances in immunotherapy have allowed doctors at the University of Colorado Cancer Center to more effectively treat melanomas that spread to other parts of the body. Immunotherapy drugs such as checkpoint inhibitors, which are commonly used to treat melanomas, work to strengthen a patient’s immune system so that it can prevent a tumor from “turning off” the ability of the immune system to fight it.
One of the most impactful advancements during the past decade in treating ovarian cancer is the use of PARP inhibitors (short for poly adenosine diphosphate-ribose polymerase). PARP inhibitors are a type of cancer drug that blocks the PARP enzyme from helping to repair DNA damage in cancer cells.
When Dara Aisner, MD, PhD, an associate professor in the Department of Pathology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, was approached by a colleague at another university about splitting the cost of a bulk purchase of new clinical testing products, she initially declined. Although it would be a valuable resource — and might even save her lab money in the long-term — the short-term cost was prohibitive.
Though the two main histological types of breast cancer — lobular and ductal — are treated with the same hormonal therapies, women with lobular breast cancer often have recurrence or metastasis of the disease several years after their initial treatment.
When you ask a classroom full of middle schoolers what they want to be when they grow up, you’re likely to get a range of answers, from “pro athletes” and “astronauts” to “musicians” and “movie stars.”
The early days of the COVID-19 pandemic were an adjustment period for medical professionals across the board, but they brought up particular challenges for the Cancer Clinical Trial Office (CCTO) at the University of Colorado Cancer Center. A number of procedures that used to take place in person or in the office — collecting signatures from patients and doctors, delivering medications, submitting data to trial sponsors — suddenly had to be done in a whole new way.
It’s difficult enough when a loved one is diagnosed with cancer, but employed spouses of those who receive the diagnosis also are confronted with an array of practical problems. It’s now up to them to untangle issues around medical leave, health insurance, caregiving benefits, and more.
Dmitri Simberg, PhD, an associate professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences in the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and a CU Cancer Center member, has released the results of a new study of the effectiveness of different types of fluorescent labels used to monitor the accumulation of liposomes in tumors.
Nearly 30 researchers and physicians from the University of Colorado Cancer Center shared the results of their work at a June 15 online event titled “Collaborating to Conquer Cancer: A virtual conversation benefiting the CU Cancer Center.”
All cells use the process of metabolism to turn nutrients into energy — including cancer cells. Metabolism is a fundamental function whose role in cancer is being explored by researchers across the CU Cancer Center.
A pilot study of childhood leukemia patients living near Colorado’s oil and gas drilling sites recently led to an American Cancer Society (ACS) grant award for CU Cancer Center member Lisa McKenzie PhD, MPH.
Research and treatment of head and neck cancers at the University of Colorado Cancer Center reached a new level this month with a highly competitive Specialized Programs of Research Excellence (SPORE) grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The SPORE was approved by NCI Scientific Program leadership for FY2021 funding; the projected starting date is July 1.
Looking for better ways to treat patients with esophageal cancer, University of Colorado Cancer Center member Martin McCarter, MD, is investigating whether a new treatment sequence will result in better outcomes.
Long before RNA and mRNA became important parts of the COVID-19 vaccine conversation, researchers at the University of Colorado School of Medicine were studying how RNA biology can improve diagnostics and therapeutics for a range of diseases.
May is National Cancer Research Month, during this time we aim to raise awareness of the high-quality, innovative cancer research happening at the University of Colorado Cancer Center. This research continues to help the more than 16.9 million people in the United States who are living with, through, and beyond their cancer diagnoses.
When Manali Kamdar, MD, joined the University of Colorado School of Medicine’s Division of Hematology as clinical director of lymphoma services in January 2015, she was fresh off her third fellowship (a bone marrow transplant and lymphoma fellowship at Stanford) and ready for a new challenge.
Not all cancerous tumors are created equal. Some tumors, known as “hot” tumors, show signs of inflammation, which means they are infiltrated with T cells working to fight the cancer. Those tumors are easier to treat, as immunotherapy drugs can then amp up the immune response.
Over the past few years, Camille Stewart, MD, assistant professor of surgery in the Division of Surgical Oncology, has conducted research for the Society of Surgical Oncology (SSO) to examine unconscious bias within the organization. In her studies, Stewart examines unconscious bias and microaggressions by focusing on the subtle differences in introductions of speakers at professional meetings and conferences.
Although rare, kidney cancer is the third most common type of solid tumor affecting children. Thankfully, pediatric kidney tumors are generally treatable and most have high cure rates. Treatment outcomes depend on several factors including age, tumor type, staging, genetics, the overall health of the patient, and the risk of treatment side effects.
A new phase 3 randomized clinical trial overseen by CU Cancer Center member Chad Rusthoven, MD, and Vinai Gondi, MD, from Northwestern University, is testing whether a new treatment approach could result in improved outcomes for patients with small cell lung cancer (SCLC) that has spread to the brain.
A team of University of Colorado School of Medicine researchers recently published a paper offering new insight into the role that oxygen deprivation, or hypoxia, plays in cancer development. CU Cancer Center member Joaquin Espinosa, PhD, is the senior researcher on the paper, which he hopes will help lead to more targeted treatments for cancer.
Though breast cancer patients are now living longer than ever before, treatments for the disease can have wide-ranging effects on their long-term quality of life. Physical, social, and sexual wellbeing all can be impacted by radiation, chemotherapy, surgery, antiendocrine therapy and other challenges that go along with a breast cancer battle.
Three University of Colorado Cancer Center researchers are part of a team that recently published a paper offering new insight into how the immune system relates to cancer. Quentin Vicens, PhD, Jeffrey Kieft, PhD, and Beat Vögeli, PhD, are authors on the paper, which looks at how an enzyme called ADAR1 operates in pathways associated with cancer.
Three projects from University of Colorado Cancer Center researchers have received grants from the Denver-based Michele Plachy-Rubin Fund for Pilot Grants in Brain Cancer Research. Receiving $40,000 each to fund their work around brain cancer are Sujatha Venkataraman, PhD; and the teams of Philip Reigan, PhD, and Michael Graner, PhD; and Natalie Serkova, PhD, and Nicholas Foreman, MD, MBChB.
For more than a year, a working group at the University of Colorado Cancer Center has been studying the many ways the aging process impacts cancer — including incidence, progression, and prognosis of the disease, therapeutic options and outcomes, and the psychosocial aspects of living with cancer.
Breast cancer is harmful enough on its own, but when cancer cells start to metastasize — or spread into the body from their original location — the disease becomes even more fatal and difficult to treat.
New research from CU Cancer Center member Jing Hong Wang, MD, PhD, and recent University of Colorado Immunology program graduate Rachel Woolaver, PhD, may help researchers develop more effective personalized immunotherapy for cancer patients.
The global pandemic of 2020 has been a pivotal year for the health care industry. This year lead some CU Cancer Center members to shift their focus to learning more about COVID-19 while others continued their research on cancer. Whether the focus was on COVID-19 or Cancer this year showed how coming together as a community can make a difference.
Craig Jordan, PhD, has spent more than 20 years developing better treatments for acute myeloid leukemia (AML), a rapidly progressing cancer of the blood and bone marrow that can spread to other parts of the body, including the lymph nodes, liver, spleen and central nervous system.
Thanks in large part to early work by investigators at the CU Cancer Center, patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) have a new treatment option that has fewer side effects and has been shown to increase longevity.
In the 1860s, French physician Armand Trousseau noticed that patients with a certain form of abnormal blood clotting often went on to be diagnosed with pancreas or gastric cancers. Unfortunately, at age 66 he noticed these same symptoms in himself and died of gastric cancer only a few months later.
Studies have long reported that Black cancer patients have poorer outcomes than their white counterparts. But two University of Colorado Cancer Center researchers decided to investigate the data further and figure out why. What they found was that the outcome disparity was caused not by biology, but simply by differences in access to health care.
After nearly four years of work, a group of researchers and clinicians from the University of Colorado (CU) published a paper this week in the Clinical Cancer Research that shares findings from research looking at how the composition of ovarian cancer tumors changes during chemotherapy and contributes to therapeutic response.
Last month the American Cancer Society (ACS) released updated guidelines for cervical cancer screening. The most notable change in guidelines is the changes in the age to begin screening. Per the new guidelines, it is recommended that cervical cancer screening begin at age 25. Previously, the starting age for screening was 21.
A key component in treating newly diagnosed leukemia is genetic and molecular testing. With this knowledge, physicians can better determine which treatment options are best suited for patients based on genetic mutations, fusions and other biologic features.
Black and Hispanic children diagnosed with brain and central nervous system (CNS) cancers have worse outcomes than their white counterparts in the United States. The reasons behind this are unclear but may include socioeconomic factors and/or limited access to quality care. Now, researchers at the University of Colorado (CU) Cancer Center and Children’s Hospital Colorado on the Anschutz Medical Campus are collaborating to better understand these disparities, as well as develop ways to reduce the burden of disease in these populations.
University of Colorado Cancer Center member and associate professor of Pathology Paul Jedlicka, MD, PhD, has received the St. Baldrick’s Research Grant with generous support from Marlee’s Smile. His research will focus on better understanding the mechanisms behind rhabdomyosarcoma, a common and aggressive cancer type in children. The goal of the research is to identify new approaches to interfering with disease progression.
Cecilia Caino, PhD, has been researching cancer cell biology at University of Colorado Cancer Center since 2017. Cecilia earned her PhD in Cellular Biology from the University of Buenos Aires with her research component performed at the University of Pennsylvania, and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at The Wistar Institute. We spoke with Dr. Caino about her research on how cancer cells use energy and how their unique energy strategies could help cancer cells spread.
January 2020 was unseasonably warm and dry, so pleasant that students on the Anschutz Medical Campus ate lunch at picnic tables and scientists emerged confused and squinting from hibernation in the campus research buildings. One person who was not there was Deguang Kong, visiting graduate student in the lab of Heide Ford, PhD, University of Colorado (CU) Cancer Center Associate Director for Basic Research. With his PhD work wrapping up, Deguang had taken a quick leave to interview for jobs near his home…in Wuhan, China.
Many patients diagnosed with COVID-19 have symptoms such as a persistent dry cough, shortness of breath, and in some cases, incredibly low oxygen levels in their blood. Additionally, many patients report having long-lasting side effects, for example decreased lung capacity, even after they recover from the virus.
Nearly two thousand people living in Colorado will be diagnosed with head and neck cancer (HNC) in 2020. Generally, a very aggressive disease, head and neck cancer require expert care that is not widely available in community cancer clinics. However, patients that are not well-represented in clinical studies, especially Hispanic patients, are less likely to get care from centers that specialize in the disease, such as the University of Colorado Cancer Center.
Lung cancer is the deadliest cancer in the United States. In Colorado more than 2,500 people will be diagnosed with the disease and more than 1,400 will die of it in 2020. While advances in lung cancer treatment have gifted many patients with more time, the benefit of these treatments is limited by the racial and socioeconomic status of some patients in Colorado. A new study at the University of Colorado Cancer Center focuses on reducing disparities in lung cancer patients with diverse backgrounds.
While many cancer types have added new treatments including genetically targeted drugs and immunotherapies, treatment for the rare types of cancer known as sarcomas have remained largely the same for about two decades. Now, two grants to University of Colorado Cancer Center researchers from the Sarcoma Foundation of America hope to change this.
University of Colorado radiation oncologist Chad Rusthoven, MD, was recently awarded the prestigious Dr. Charles A. Coltman Jr. research fellowship award from the Hope Foundation for Cancer Research. The award provides two years of salary support to engage early career investigators from Southwest Oncology Group (SWOG) affiliated institutions in clinical trial research.
When a blood cancer patient needs a bone marrow transplant, there are four common donor sources: A matched related donor (sibling), a matched unrelated donor (from a donor database), a half-matched donor, or umbilical cord blood. Of course, there are plusses and minuses to each approach, but consensus has generally ranked a matched sibling first, followed by a matched unrelated donor, with cord blood and half-matched donors reserved for patients without either of the first two options. Now a University of Colorado Cancer Center study based on a decade of research and treatment may reshuffle this list. In fact, the comparison of 190 patients receiving cord-blood transplants with 123 patients receiving transplants from the “gold standard” of matched sibling donors showed no difference in survival outcomes between these two approaches, with significantly fewer complications due to chronic graft-versus-host disease in patients receiving transplants from cord blood.
Results of the phase III Inter-B-NHL-ritux 2010 clinical trial reported today in the New England Journal of Medicine show 95 percent three-year survival for pediatric patients with advanced B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma treated with the addition of anti-cancer immunotherapy rituximab to standard chemotherapy. The trial represents a major international collaboration between the European Intergroup for Childhood Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (EICNHL) and the Children’s Oncology Group (COG), and was led in the United States by Thomas Gross, MD, PhD, University of Colorado Cancer Center investigator and pediatric oncologist at Children’s Hospital Colorado, and in Europe by Véronique Minard-Colin, MD and Catherine Patte, MD, both pediatric oncologists at the Gustave Roussy Department of Child and Adolescent Oncology in Paris, France. The addition of rituximab decreased treatment failures by 70 percent resulting in a 10 percent increase in the three-year survival rate seen with chemotherapy alone (LMB protocol).
In mid-March, the University of Colorado Cancer Center Cell Technologies Shared Resource shut down along with almost all the other labs and technologies on the Anschutz Medical Campus. Then shared resource director, Steve Anderson, PhD, got an email from a colleague asking if the facility could make COVID-19 proteins. They could: The shared resource has been making proteins for over 15 years.
In 1844, multiple myeloma was first treated with a rhubarb pill and an infusion of orange peel. Since then, more than 15 drugs have earned FDA approval to treat multiple myeloma and with so many options, a major question has become what cocktail and sequence is best?
You’ve heard of the Human Genome Project. Now the University of Colorado Cancer Center Human Immune Monitoring Shared Resource (HIMSR) is partnering with the Cancer Center Tissue Biobanking and Histology Shared Resource to store COVID-19 samples for individual research efforts and for a major project known as the COVID-ome.
An important goal of early-phase clinical trials is to discover a drug’s possible side effects. But despite FDA guidelines seeking to standardize this reporting, a University of Colorado Cancer Center study finds significant variation in how drug side effects are reported, potentially making some drugs seem safer or less safe than they really are.
Cells have a big decision: Should they replicate or sleep? Healthy cells can go either way. Cancer cells’ replication switches are stuck in the ‘on’ position. Now a study by University of Colorado Cancer Center researchers working at CU Boulder’s BioFrontiers Institute and published today in the journal Science overturns the conventional wisdom of how these switches work – a model accepted since 1974 and included in current textbooks.
Most ovarian cancer starts in fallopian tubes. Then it sloughs from its site of origin and floats around in fluid until finding new sites of attachment. It’s not easy for cancer cells to survive away from their moorings. Observations by ovarian cancer doctors at University of Colorado Cancer Center and elsewhere hint at how they might do it: These doctors have seen that ovarian cancer cells often collect in tissues with high fat content. Could these cells be somehow using fat to survive the journey from their point of origin to their sites of growth?
Immunotherapies have revolutionized the treatment of many cancers. The most common anti-cancer immunotherapies are called checkpoint inhibitors, which block a handshake between the protein PD-L1 on tumor cells and the protein PD-1 on immune system T cells. Checkpoint inhibitors including pembrolizumab (Keytruda) and nivolumab (Opdivo) block the action of PD-1 and atezolizumab (Tecentriq) blocks the action of PD-L1, but the result is largely the same: When this tumor-to-T-cell handshake can’t take place, the immune system attacks the cancer.
When you think about what defines Colorado’s Front Range, adventure sports including rock climbing are near the top of the list. More and more, biosciences and medical innovation including cancer research are high on the list, too. Now a fun event at the Denver Bouldering Club combines the two. On February 29, the 7th annual Heart & Soul Climbing Competition will raise money and awareness for research at University of Colorado Cancer Center.
“Cancer is something that has affected every member of our staff personally – you could go through the crowd at Heart and Soul and every person would have their own cancer story.
Climbing is a selfish pursuit to some extent, and this is our way to step outside our own bubble and say there’s something else going on in the world,” says John Gass, the gym’s climbing services manager.
The fun event is appropriate for all ages and ability levels, from beginners who can rent climbing shoes at the gym, to pros who will compete for $4,000 in cash prizes in the Open division. Since the inaugural event in 2014, the Heart and Soul Climbing Competition has raised just over $70,000 for cancer research through ticket sales, day-of donations, and online fundraising (if you can’t make it to the event, click to donate!).
“We’ve gotten bigger and better every year,” Gass says. “This year, we’re hoping to push the bar even higher and make it to that $100,000 mark for cancer research. If we can knock it out of the park, we can make it happen!”
CU Cancer Center researcher James Costello, PhD, promises to keep his welcome speech to 5 minutes, tops, before the 7pm finals. And you may even catch a few of his postdocs climbing earlier in the day – if you see folks in blue CU Cancer Center tee shirts, encourage your kids to ask them about their research! Pointing the flow of the climbing/research collaboration in the other direction, Denver Bouldering Club staff recently had the opportunity to tour labs at CU Cancer Center to see their money at work.
“A couple years ago, one of our employees was going through chemo at the same time he was helping with the event. It was really empowering for him and showed us all why we do what we’re doing,” Gass says.
Tickets are $55 until Feb 28 and $65 at the door. Registration includes free food and door prizes donated by event sponsors including Friction Labs, Milestone Homes, Organic Climbing, Groove Toyota Scion, Stone Brewing, Metolius, X-Cult, Escape, Rhino Skin Solutions, Honey Stinger, Brazos Wine Imports, and more.
Really, don’t be shy: “Heart and Soul takes that stress you feel at most climbing comps and replaces it with a community feel where we’re all supporting each other and supporting cancer research,” Gass says.
See you there for this truly only-in-Colorado event!