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Case Comprehensive Cancer Center

2016 Cancer Center News

2016 Cancer Center News

Breast Biorepository

We are pleased to announce that the protocol to recruit UH breast patients for a blood and tissue biorepository is up and running and we have recruited our first patients!  This protocol, CASE 3116, has truly been a collaboration between basic scientists, translational scientists and many clinicians from across the breast team, and could not have happened without this broad-based commitment.  I especially want to recognize Megan Kilbane for organizing this effort as well as Joy Knight and Steve Maximuk for being the front line to patient recruitment.

The biorepository was launched from the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center (Case CCC) breast working group and was designed to be a resource to the full membership of the Case CCC.  We will be collecting blood and/or tissue from different types of patients, ranging from patients having a biopsy not yet diagnosed with breast cancer to patients with metastatic disease.  We have started in one location, collecting blood and tissue from patients with suspicious mammograms or known cancers undergoing image-guided breast biopsies in the Breen Breast Health Pavilion at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center.  Collecting surgical tissue specimens and metastatic samples are in our future plans.

We have planned the recruitment, sample collection and data collection to be flexible, and can include serial blood samples.  We want to recruit patients and collect samples that will be used.  We will be banking extra biopsy cores as well as plasma and DNA.  If you have specific needs for samples or patients, I strongly encourage you to reach out to me ( early on.  If we don't know you want it, we don't know to collect it!  I look forward to hearing from the Case CCC community as we move this initiative forward.

Scientists Develop Computer Models to Predict Cancer Cell Network Activity

A multi-institution academic-industrial partnership of researchers led by Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine has developed a new method to broadly assess cell communication networks and identify disease-specific network anomalies. The computer-based method, called InFlo, was developed in collaboration with researchers at Philips and Princeton University and predicts how cells send signals across networks to cause cancer or other disease. Details about the new method were recently published in Oncogene

“Cellular signaling networks are the mechanisms that cells use to transfer, process, and respond to biological information derived from their immediate surroundings,” said Vinay Varadan, PhD, assistant professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, member of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, and senior corresponding author on the study. "InFlo can be viewed as modeling the flow of information within these signaling networks." more>


Case Western Reserve Researcher Awarded Neuroscience "Big Data" Grant

A Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine researcher has received a three-year “big data” grant from the National Science Foundation that will help researchers more effectively gather, use, and share neuroscience-related data, ultimately leading to better treatments.

Sharing and using such data is often challenging because neuroscience research, which is data-intense, involves collaboration from the fields of neuroscience, computer science, engineering, physics, psychology, statistics, and applied mathematics, with researchers employing many different data types and models.

Satya Sahoo, PhD, assistant professor of medical informatics in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, will team with colleagues at Case Western Reserve and other institutions on using technology to obtain, study, and share large amounts of clinical, cognitive, demographic, genetic, and phenotypic (observable characteristics) data from research on neurologically-related diseases, conditions, and impairments.

“We are extremely grateful to the National Science Foundation for this award,” said Sahoo. “It will enable us to make use of new technologies and applications to dramatically revise old ways of doing business.” more>

Case Western Reserve University Researchers Block Common Type of Colon Cancer Tumor in Mice

A new scientific study has identified why colorectal cancer cells depend on a specific nutrient, and a way to starve them of it. Over one million men and women are living with colorectal cancer in the United States. The National Cancer Institute estimates 4.5% of all men and women will be diagnosed with the cancer during their lifetime, making it the third most common non-skin cancer.

In the study published online in Nature Communications, researchers showed how certain colorectal cancer cells reprogram their metabolism using glutamine, a non-essential amino acid. Many cancer cells rely on glutamine to survive. How they become so dependent on the molecule is hotly debated in the field.

Researchers studied a subset of colorectal cancer cells containing a genetic mutation called PIK3CA. This mutation is located in a gene critical for cell division and movement, and is found in approximately one third of all colorectal cancers. The mutation is also the most commonly identified genetic mutation across all cancers, making the results of the study universally appealing.

Zhenghe John Wang, PhD, professor of genetics and genome sciences and co-leader of the Cancer Genetics Program at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine helped lead the study. “In layman's terms, we discovered that colon cancers with PIK3CA oncogenic mutations are addicted to glutamine, a particular nutrient for cancer cells. We also demonstrated that these cancers can be starved to death by depriving glutamine with drugs.” more>

Malignant Brain Tumors Most Common Cause of Cancer Deaths in Adolescents and Young Adults

A new report published in the journal Neuro-Oncology and funded by the American Brain Tumor Association (ABTA) finds that malignant brain tumors are the most common cause of cancer-related deaths in adolescents and young adults aged 15-39 and the most common cancer occurring among 15-19 year olds.

The 50-page report, which utilized data from the Central Brain Tumor Registry of the United States (CBTRUS) from 2008-2012, is the first in-depth statistical analysis of brain and central nervous system (CNS) tumors in adolescents and young adults (AYA). Statistics are provided on tumor type, tumor location and age group (15-19, 20-24, 25-29, 30-34 and 35-39) for both malignant and non-malignant brain and CNS tumors.

Although brain and CNS tumors are the most common type of cancer among people aged 15-19, the report shows how other cancers become more common with age. By ages 34-39 years, brain and CNS tumors are the third most common cancer after breast and thyroid cancer.

"What's interesting is the wide variability in the types of brain tumors diagnosed within this age group which paints a much different picture than what we see in adults or in pediatric patients," explained the study's senior author Jill Barnholtz-Sloan, PhD, associate professor, Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and Scientific Principal Investigator for CBTRUS. more>


New Image Analytics May Offer Quick Guidance for Breast Cancer Treatment

For women with the most common type of breast cancer, a new way to analyze magnetic resonance images (MRI) data appears to reliably distinguish between patients who would need only hormonal treatment and those who also need chemotherapy, researchers from Case Western Reserve University report.

The analysis may provide women diagnosed with estrogen positive-receptor (ER-positive) breast cancer answers far faster than current tests and, due to its expected low cost, open the door to this kind of testing worldwide. The research is published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports.

"In the United States, nearly 70 percent of all breast cancer patients are diagnosed with ER-positive, but the majority don't need chemotherapy," said Anant Madabhushi, Professor, biomedical engineering professor, Case Western Reserve University, Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, and research leader.

"Until about 15 years ago, doctors had no way of telling aggressive cancer from non-aggressive, so the majority of women got chemotherapy, which can produce very harsh side effects," he said. more>

Case Comprehensive Cancer Center Joins Nation’s Cancer Centers in Endorsement of HPV Vaccination for Cancer Prevention

Joint statement urges parents, young adults and physicians to act to increase vaccination rates 

In response to low national vaccination rates for the human papillomavirus (HPV), Case Comprehensive Cancer Center has joined 69 of the nation’s top cancer centers in issuing a statement urging for increased HPV vaccination for the prevention of cancer. These institutions collectively recognize insufficient vaccination as a public health threat and call upon the nations’ physicians, parents and young adults to take advantage of this rare opportunity to prevent many types of cancer. 

“We recognize that HPV vaccinations are a seriously under-utilized opportunity for cancer prevention. To counteract this, we must make it clear to patients and their parents that the vaccine is safe and effective,” says Stan Gerson, MD, director of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center,  director of UH Seidman Cancer Center, and the Asa and Patricia Shiverick- Jane Shiverick (Tripp) Professor of Hematological Oncology at  Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) School of Medicine.  more>

New Precision Medicine Guidelines Aimed at Improving Personalized Cancer Treatment Plans

A committee of national experts, led by a Cleveland Clinic researcher, has established first-of-its-kind guidelines to promote more accurate and individualized cancer predictions, guiding more precise treatment and leading to improved patient survival rates and outcomes.
These new guidelines are changing the traditional approach of cancer staging methods for cancer treatment. The new risk calculators - which will complement the existing staging system - will enable physicians to more accurately and precisely determine the best treatment for individual patients.
The American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC), which is responsible for periodically evaluating and updating the cancer stages, has acknowledged that cancer stages are imperfect, and it is committed to enhancing the system with more prognostic, statistically based risk calculators in 2016.
In preparation for these changes, the AJCC invited a group of top healthcare statistical experts from across the country to form the Precision Medicine Core (PMC). Led by Michael Kattan, PhD, MBA, chair of Cleveland Clinic's Department of Quantitative Health Sciences at Cleveland Clinic's Lerner Research Institute, the group discussed characteristics necessary for developing a quality risk model in cancer patients. The emphasis centered on performance metrics, implementation clarity, and clinical relevance.
"This represents a new paradigm shift for the future of cancer treatments," Kattan said.
The new guidelines will be published in the highly esteemed journal CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians on Tuesday, January 19th, 2016. more>

Madabhushi Team Awarded Patent on Identifying Vulnerable Plaque from Perfusion MRI

Dr. Anant Madabhushi, Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Director of the Center for Computational Imaging and Personalized Diagnostics, and member of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, has been awarded U.S. patent 9,235,887, titled "Classification of Biological Tissue by Multi-mode data registration, segmentation, and characterization."

The invention relates to a method and apparatus for classifying possibly vulnerable plaques from sets of DCE-MRI images. The images are processed to determine the boundaries of candidate regions of interest and the voxels within the identified boundaries in corresponding regions of the images from each time period are processed to extract kinetic texture features. The kinetic texture features are then used in a classification process which classifies the ROIs as vulnerable or stable.

Co-inventors include Andrew Buckler, James Hamilton, Shannon Agner, and Mark Rosen. The invention has been licensed to Elucid Bioimaging Inc., a Boston based medical imaging startup company.