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2015 Cancer Center News

2015 Cancer Center News

Dr. Halle Moore Published in NEJM for Research on Goserelin for Ovarian Protection During Breast-Cancer Adjuvant Chemotherapy

Dr. Halle MooreNew England Journal of Medicine - Mar 5, 2015
The POEMS/S0230 impressive results were published in NEJM this past week.

As PI on the SWOG randomized study of 257 premenopausal women with operable hormone-receptor-negative breast cancer receiving standard chemotherapy with or without the GnRH agonist goserelin, Dr Halle Moore was able to demonstrate improved protection against ovarian failure and therefore improved prospects for fertility.

The impact of this research was articulated by Dr Stan Gerson; " I think more than anything is to remember how rare out work changes the practice of medicine and this will do so."

Study Links New Genetic Anomalies to Breast Cancer in African American Families

A team of researchers at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) assisted in a study that uncovered previously unknown segments of DNA shared by African American family members who have breast cancer. The study was led by Dr. Heather Ochs-Balcom from the University of Buffalo, a former postdoc of Dr. Robert Elston.

African American women have different incidence of breast cancer as compared to European American women, in particular the distribution of the known subtypes of breast cancer are different between these groups. Treatment decisions and clinical outcomes are tightly coupled with breast cancer subtype designation.

For the study, Dr. Ochs-Balcom recruited African American women with breast cancer and their family members. Sophisticated statistical analysis was conducted by the team at CWRU and the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, including Xiangqing Sun, Yanwen Chen, Jill Barnholtz-Sloan and Robert Elston. Using this analysis, Dr. Ochs-Balcom was able to find novel genetic variants for these families not previously described in European American families with breast cancer. More>

Groundbreaking Study Sheds Light on Treating Blood Cancers

Dr. Yogen SaunthararajahIn a new study, researchers explored ways to treat life-threatening blood cancers in a less toxic way. They worked to wipe out cancer cells in the blood without destroying healthy surrounding cells. Yogen Saunthararajah, MD, who treats cancer patients at Cleveland Clinic, led the study. Dr. Saunthararajah, Co-leader of the Developmental Therapeutics Program and Professor, Hematologic Oncology and Blood Disorders, explains how the new approach works by comparing it to a popular arcade game.

"The way the medicine works is like the game Whac-a-Mole™. You have a mallet and you're only getting the moles that happen to be in a particular phase of their growth cycle. You don't want a huge mallet because you're just going to damage the golf green. You want a little mallet and you want to keep on whacking regularly," Dr. Saunthararajah says.

In the same way, the new treatment involves using an existing drug but in a more targeted, repetitive way. The idea is to use more and smaller doses, as though the drug were the mallet you use to strike the cancer cells. More>

Tesar Recognized with International Stem Cell Award

Dr. Paul TesarThe International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) has named Paul Tesar, PhD of Case Western Reserve University and the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center the Outstanding Young Investigator for 2015. The award "recognizes the exceptional achievements of an investigator in the early part of his or her independent career in stem cell research who will be honored with the award at the ISSCR Annual Meeting in Stockholm, Sweden in June 2015." More>

Sharifi Receives Prostate Cancer Center Foundation Challenge Award

Dr. Nima SharifiDr. Nima Sharifi, Associate Professor of Cancer Biology at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of CWRU and Co-Leader of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center GU Malignancies Program, is one of six people to receive a Challenge Award from the Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF). These multi-year awards support cross-disciplinary teams of research scientists to advance the treatment of lethal prostate cancer.

According to a PCF press release, Dr. Sharifi's project will develop an FDA-approved prognostic test to identify patients with genetic mutations that predispose them to treatment resistance. An inherited mutation in 3βHSD1 increases the body's production of male hormones, leading to poor clinical outcomes when patients are treated with androgen deprivation therapy. Dr. Sharifi's work will be translated into a new diagnostic test, which may also predict the efficacy of abiraterone (Zytiga®) as an alternative treatment for these high-risk patients. This is Dr. Sharifi's third PCF award; he was named a PCF Young Investigator in 2008, and a co-investigator on a previous Challenge Award. More>

ASCO's Cancer.Net Provides Free Educational Videos About Clinical Trials

ASCO’s Cancer.Net is providing free access to a new educational program to help patients and their caregivers learn about clinical trials and address barriers to participation.

The video-based program, Preparatory Education About Clinical Trials (PRE-ACT), is designed to improve patients’ general knowledge and attitudes about clinical trials, and prepare them for considering participation if this option is available. The program was tested with more than 1,200 patients in a phase III randomized clinical trial. 

Cancer.Net licensed the program from the Case Western Reserve University, in Cleveland, Ohio, where the program was developed by ASCO member Neal J. Meropol, MD, of the Seidman Cancer Center at University Hospitals Case Medical Center, through a grant from the National Cancer Institute. Dr. Meropol began designing PRE-ACT with a team of colleagues when he was a faculty member at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, PA. More> 

Researchers Identify New Gene Mutations Linked to Colorectal Cancer in African American Patients

‌Case Comprehensive Cancer Center researchers have identified new gene mutations unique to colon cancers in African Americans the population with the highest incidence and death rates of any group for this disease.

This discovery – namely, that colorectal cancers appear different on a molecular level in African Americans – offers new hope for these patients. With this groundbreaking knowledge, scientists now will seek to develop treatments that target the distinct nature of the disease in African Americans – and, they hope, begin to reduce the devastation disproportionately wrought on this population.

The findings, published in the Jan. 12 edition of PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences), only became possible because of technological advances in gene sequencing and computational analysis. The study that revealed this invaluable information ultimately involved review of 1.5 billion bits of data. More>