Cancer Vaccine Shows Benefit in Early Clinical Trial
A novel cancer vaccine developed by researchers at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC–James) has shown evidence of being safe and effective in a phase I clinical trial involving both men and women and a variety of cancer types.
The vaccine targets HER2, a protein that is present at abnormally high levels in about one-third of breast cancers and in other cancer types. Its presence generally signals a poor response to therapy and a high likelihood that a cancer will recur.
Twenty-four men and women with metastatic or recurrent solid tumors participated in the trial.
“Of the 24 patients, six showed clinical benefit – one had tumor shrinkage and five had stable disease,” says principal investigator and study leader Pravin Kaumaya, PhD, professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, of Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry, and of Microbiology, and director of Ohio State’s Division of Vaccine Development. Other Ohio State researchers involved in this study were Kevin Chu Foy, Joan Garrett, Sharad V. Rawale, Daniele Vicari, Jennifer M. Thurmond, Tammy Lamb, Aruna Mani, Yahaira Kane, Catherine R. Balint, Donald Chalupa, Gregory A. Otterson, Charles L. Shapiro, Jeffrey M. Fowler, Michael R. Grever, Tanios S. Bekaii-Saab and William E. Carson III.
The findings were reported in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
Amish Have Lower Cancer Rates
An Ohio State study of Ohio Amish suggests clean living can lead to a healthier life, according to Judith Westman, MD, professor of Clinical Internal Medicine, director of Human Genetics at the OSUCCC–James and co-author of the study along with epidemiologist Amy Ferketich, PhD.
The low cancer incidence in Ohio Amish may be partially explained by lifestyle factors such as limited tobacco and alcohol consumption, lack of sexual promiscuity, wearing long sleeves and wide-brimmed hats outdoors and active, labor-intensive lives.
The findings were reported in the journal Cancer Causes & Control. Other Ohio State researchers involved in this study are from the departments of Statistics and Internal Medicine and the College of Public Health
Bettering Breads to Beat Prostate Cancer
Researchers at Ohio State, led by Steven Clinton, MD, PhD, professor of Medical Oncology and of Human Nutrition and leader of the OSUCCC–James Carcinogenisis and Chemoprevention Program are testing proprietary recipes for soy-almond bread and soy bread for their potential to prevent and treat prostate cancer, the second-most common form of cancer in men.
The study is testing whether soy bread with almonds will improve preventive and treatment benefits over soy bread alone. Almonds improve the flavor, but more importantly, they contain an enzyme that converts soy isoflavones into a form more easily absorbed by the body. Researchers in Ohio State’s Department of Food Science and Technology also participated in the study.
Cancer Patients Connect
In a pilot study at the OSUCCC – James, 27 breast cancer patients used personal digital assistants to rate their pain, fatigue and depression during chemotherapy, and viewed videos on how to communicate these symptoms to their physicians. These patients showed a significant reduction in pain severity compared to a control group.
“Patients often have a hard time communicating their concerns with these symptoms because they don’t want to bother their doctors, so we are trying to improve that patient-doctor communication,” says principal investigator Doug Post, PhD, professor of Family Medicine.
Finances Linked to Depression in Stage Zero Breast Cancer
A new study suggests that women who have fewer financial resources may need added social and psychological support to cope with the fear, anxiety and depression that can accompany a diagnosis of an early stage of breast cancer called ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), a type of stage zero breast cancer.
“The extra support needed by women with lower financial status could include patient navigators,” says Janet de Moor, PhD, assistant professor of Health Behavior and Health Promotion, member of the OSUCCC–James Cancer Control research program and the study’s corresponding author.
The findings are published online in the journal Cancer.
Researchers Discover Brain Tumor’s “Grow-or-Go” Switch
When energy levels are high, brain tumor cells grow and proliferate. When levels are low, the cells grow less and migrate more.
OSUCCC–James researchers, led by co-author E. Antonio Chiocca, MD, PhD, professor and chair of Neurological Surgery, leader of the OSUCCC Viral Oncogenesis Program and holder of the Dardinger Family Endowed Chair in Oncological Neurosurgery, have discovered the switch responsible for this
“grow-or-go” behavior. Glioblastoma cells use a molecule called miR-451 to shift from their typical means of metabolizing glucose to an alternate means that consumes resources within the cell. This discovery suggests that miR-451 may be a useful prognostic marker.
Other Ohio State investigators involved in this research are from the departments of Neurological Surgery; Molecular Virology, Immunology and Medical Genetics; Pathology; and Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry
The findings are published the journal Molecular Cell.
New Agent Kills Cancer Cells
When cancer cells run short of oxygen, they produce energy in a way that needs less oxygen but more sugar. OSUCCC–James researchers, led by Ching-Shih Chen, PhD, professor of Medicinal Chemistry, of Internal Medicine and of Urology and holder of the Lewis A. Wing Chair of Cancer Research and Therapy, have designed an experimental drug that chokes off a cancer cell’s sugar supply, causing the cell to self-destruct.
The agent, called OSU-CG12, is an example of a new class of drugs called energy-restriction mimetic agents. It is described in a paper published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.
Awake Sedation for Brain Surgery May Shorten Hospital Stay
Both the recovery time and cost of brain tumor surgery might be reduced if surgery is performed while patients are awake during part of the procedure, according to a new study conducted at the OSUCCC–James.
The study, published online June 18 in the Journal of Neurosurgery, examined the outcomes of 39 patients treated for glioma, a type of brain tumor that affects about 20,000 Americans annually. The doctors wanted to learn if surgeries that used conscious sedation – in which patients are initially anesthetized but – had outcomes different from those using more traditional general anesthesia.
“Our data suggest that patients who received conscious sedation had shorter hospital stays than those receiving general anesthesia, and that this reduced the cost of treatment,” says study leader E. Antonio Chiocca, MD, PhD, professor and chair of Neurological Surgery and holder of the Dardinger Family Endowed Chair in Oncological Neurosurgery.
The study also included investigators from the Department of Anesthesiology.
The shorter hospital stay led to an average 36-percent decrease in post-intensive-care direct cost for cases receiving conscious sedation, compared with those receiving general anesthesia.
Researchers Design Self-Test for Memory Disorders
A self-administered test to screen for early dementia could help speed the diagnosis and subsequent treatment of memory disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease. It could also inform healthcare providers and caregivers about life-changing events that might lie ahead.
Douglas Scharre, MD, associate professor of Neurology and director of Ohio State’s Division of Cognitive Neurology, developed the Self-Administered Gerocognitive Examination (SAGE) to help identify individuals with mild thinking and memory impairments at an early stage. The handwritten self-
assessment, which takes less than 15 minutes to complete, is a reliable tool for evaluating cognitive abilities.
The research shows that four out of five people with mild thinking and memory issues will be detected by this test, and 95 percent of people who are normal thinking will have normal SAGE scores.
The test is available for free at sagetest.osu.edu. Findings confirming the validity of the tool are reported in the journal Alzheimer Disease and Associated Disorders. Other Ohio State researchers involved in this study are from the departments of Neurology, Internal Medicine and Psychology.
Altered Gene Linked to Many Cancers
PTEN, an important gene that normally protects the body against cancer, can cause a variety of cancers depending on the specific mutation that damages it, according to research led by Gustavo Leone, PhD, associate professor of Molecular Virology, Immunology and Medical Genetics and OSUCCC member.
People who inherit a mutated copy of PTEN have Cowden syndrome, a condition that carries a high risk of cancer in a number of organs, including the breast, thyroid and ovary. In addition, PTEN frequently becomes mutated in normal body cells, leading to prostate, lung and pancreatic cancers.
The researchers’ findings, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, suggest that testing for specific PTEN mutations might predict the kind and severity of cancer that will develop in people with the syndrome.
Other Ohio State researchers involved in this study are from the departments of Molecular Virology, Immunology and Medical Genetics; Veterinary Biosciences; Pharmacology; Molecular Genetics; and Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry, as well as the Human Cancer Genetics Program, the Tumor Microenvironment Program, the Medical Scientist Program and the Center for Biostatistics.
Second Ohio State Cancer Drug Begins Clinical Trials Testing
For the second time in less than a year, an experimental drug invented by cancer researchers at Ohio State is being tested in a clinical trial.
Adult patients began receiving doses of the oral drug AR-42, which belongs to a new class of drugs called histone deacetylase inhibitors – compounds designed to reactivate genes that normally protect against cancer but are turned off by the cancer process.
AR-42 is designed to treat relapsed or treatment-resistant multiple myeloma, chronic lymphocytic leukemia or lymphoma, according to John Byrd, MD, associate director of translational research for the OSUCCC-James.
Ohio State is the only site worldwide accepting patients to the clinical trial. Other Ohio State investigators involved in this research are from the Department of Internal Medicine and the College of Pharmacy.
Supplement May Block Cancer Cells
Ohio State researchers, led by Xianghong Zou, PhD, assistant professor of Pathology and OSUCCC member, have discovered how indole-3-carbinol (I3C), a substance produced when eating broccoli and Brussels sprouts, can block the proliferation of cancer cells.
The laboratory and animal study discovered a connection between I3C and a molecule called Cdc25A, which is essential for cell division and proliferation. The research showed that I3C causes the destruction of that molecule and thereby blocks the growth of breast cancer cells.
“Cdc25A is present at abnormally high levels in about half of breast cancer cases, and it is associated with a poor prognosis,” says Zou.
The study was published online June 29 in the journal Cancer Prevention Research.
The study also involved other investigators from the Department of Pathology at Ohio State.
If Mom Isn't Breathing, Neither is Baby
A common breathing problem is also one of the most serious chronic medical conditions complicating pregnancy. According to recent research and despite specific guidelines and recommendations advocating for aggressive asthma management, healthcare providers treat asthma attacks in pregnant women differently than in non-pregnant women.
“We found that pregnant asthmatics were less likely to receive steroids while in the emergency department or were not discharged with a prescription for steroids if they presented with a mild or moderate exacerbation,” says Jennifer McCallister, MD, assistant professor and asthma expert in Ohio State’s Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine.
Adverse pregnancy outcomes can be attributed to poor asthma control. Severe maternal asthma has been linked to an increased risk of infant death, pre-eclampsia, premature birth and low birth weight.
The study was published online by the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
Other Ohio State investigators involved in this research are from the Department of Internal Medicine, the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, and the Center for Biostatistics.
This section was compiled by Luke Russell and Rebecca Zinsmeister.
Monitor Reduces Heart Failure Hospitalizations
With millions of Americans hospitalized each year due to heart failure, a pivotal multicenter clinical trial shows that an implantable pulmonary artery pressure device in patients with moderate heart failure results in significant reductions in hospitalizations and re-admissions for those patients.
“For the first time, the device allows us to directly manage a patient’s pulmonary pressures, rather than managing symptoms or weight gain,” says William Abraham, MD, professor of Internal Medicine, director of Ohio State’s Division of
Cardiovascular Medicine, Chair of Excellence in Cardiovascular Medicine, and the study’s national co-principal investigator.
The study found that heart failure management using the pulmonary artery pressure monitoring system resulted in a 30-percent reduction in heart failure hospitalizations at six months and a 38-percent reduction at one year. It also showed reductions in pulmonary artery pressures, increases in days alive out of the hospital and improved quality of life.
The study was presented at the Heart Failure Congress 2010 in Berlin.