2016 RESEARCH SNAPSHOT

NFCR-funded scientists continue to make remarkable advances in the fight against cancer

New Initiatives

Triple Negative Breast Cancer ResearchEnabled by Charitable Bequest Gift

Prior to her passing, Marilyn Hill directed her trustees to further her interest in medical research advancement. After in-depth discussions with NFCR’s Donor Relations team, they directed a bequest gift to NFCR, making possible a new and dynamic collaboration to find effective treatments for triple negative breast cancer (TNBC), the deadliest form of all breast cancers.

This significant bequest gift has enabled investigators Dr. Susan Band Horwitz, a molecular pharmacologist, and Dr. Amos Smith, a synthetic chemist, to pursue a cross-disciplinary approach to the design and synthesis of new hybrid drug compounds against TNBC. “The new drugs will combine the power of two different agents and launch an effective attack toward the cancer cells with fewer side effects,” said Dr. Horwitz. This unique collaboration brings new hope to women whose cancer has stopped responding to the current treatment.

"The new drugs will combine the power of two different agents and launch an effective attack toward cancer cells with fewer side effects."
- Dr. Susan Band Horwitz
Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University

Genomic Testingand Precision Medicine

More than 400 genes are known to play a role in cancer and there are 50+ FDA-approved drugs that target genetic drivers of cancer. Hundreds more are in clinical development. Genomic testing reveals the unique genomic drivers for each patient’s cancer and empowers oncologists to design optimal, individualized therapies to maximize treatment success.

NFCR is a pioneer in genomic testing research and has been funding projects in this cutting-edge field for more than a decade. This year NFCR has aligned with KEW, Inc., a next-generation sequencing company focused on oncology, to continue raising awareness of the value of genomic testing and the promise it holds for treating cancer patients.

Notable Research Highlights

Selenium Helps Prevent Cancer

Selenium Helps Prevent Cancer

Research has shown that selenium, a nutrient that can be found in certain nuts, fruits and nutrition supplements, may facilitate removing damaged mitochondria from the cell and thus help prevent cancer formation.

NFCR-sponsored scientists are determining selenium’s role and its molecular players in this vital cellular process. This research will further substantiate the beneficial effects of selenium for cancer prevention and may also advance the development of cancer therapeutics that interact with mitochondria.

Read about Dr. Helmut Sies on our scientists page
Powerful Blood Test for Cancer Detection and Treatment

Powerful Blood Test for Cancer Detection and Treatment

A revolutionary blood test developed by NFCR-funded scientists can capture cancer cells that migrate away from primary tumors and circulate in a patient’s blood (called CTCs). The test has important clinical applications in multiple ways. For example, it can detect the return of cancer sooner than current procedures and monitor responsiveness of treatment in real time to allow oncologists for timely treatment adjustments.

Researchers are now using this powerful tool to identify the very reason that enables the lethal spread of the CTCs in a patient’s body. By determining the genes and molecular mechanisms that allow cells to migrate away, this research could lead to novel therapeutic strategies to suppress the fatal spread of cancer.

Read about Dr. Daniel Haber on our scientists page
Early Detection of the Silent Killer

Early Detection of the Silent Killer

Ovarian cancer often goes unnoticed until it’s too late to be treated effectively. Research led by NFCR-funded scientists is investigating new biomarkers and may shed a light on a better way to detect ovarian cancer early. These biomarkers are autoantibodies produced by patients’ immune system against tumor proteins. The researchers will use more than 4,000 blood samples from clinical trials in the US and England to analyze a panel of 6 autoantibodies. Promising preliminary results show that comparing to the existing markers; the new panel is able to detect many additional early ovarian cancers.

Read about Dr. Rober C. Bast on our scientists page
Combating Drug Resistance in Lung Cancer

Combating Drug Resistance in Lung Cancer

NFCR-supported scientists have expanded their platform that identifies new drugs to combat drug resistance in lung cancer. One new research focus involves treatments for patients whose lung cancer has spread to the brain and has become resistant to targeted therapy. Scientists are using next generation sequencing and other advanced molecular tests to identify the genetic abnormalities that may cause treatment resistance in the brain. This data will provide the preclinical rationale for developing new treatment strategies that effectively treat certain lung cancer patients whose tumor has spread to the brain.

Read about Dr. Alice Shaw on our scientists page
Innovative 2-in-1 Immunotherapy to Combat Kidney Cancer

Innovative 2-in-1 Immunotherapy to Combat Kidney Cancer

Scientists at the NFCR Center for Antibody Engineering are developing an innovative combination immunotherapy that holds promise for treating metastatic kidney cancer more effectively. The treatment not only includes an antibody that inhibits an important protein that promotes tumor growth, it also unleashes the power of a patient’s immune system to launch more rigorous attacks than it normally would against cancer. This double immunotherapy packaged together into one agent has promising potential to become a new therapeutic for metastatic kidney cancer and other cancer types.

Read about Dr. Wayne Marasco on our scientists page
GBM AGILE – Accelerating Research for a Cure

GBM AGILE – Accelerating Research for a Cure

Led by the best and brightest cancer researchers, GBM AGILE is a revolutionary global collaboration to test and develop new brain cancer treatments. Its personalized approach will allow us to accelerate the discovery of targeted treatments for individual patients.

This global coalition has attracted over 150 participants from more than 40 leading cancer institutions across three continents. It implements a new generation of clinical trials – called “adaptive trials” – which allow patients to be enrolled more quickly, receive treatment with multiple anti-cancer drugs simultaneously and does not require years of follow-up to determine whether a new experimental treatment is beneficial. This revolutionary approach accelerates research for curing the aggressive form of cancer Glioblastoma (GBM) and will serve as a new clinical research model for combating other cancers as well. As a founding member of the coalition, NFCR has continued to take a leading role in this unprecedented effort.

It is anticipated that patient enrollment will start in the summer of 2017. Stay tuned!

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