Earlier today, weÂ posted a notice on Eurekalert for a Sunday, December 13 presentation by graduate student Jessica Konen at theÂ American Society for Cell Biology meeting in San Diego.
Her research, performed with Adam Marcus at Winship Cancer Institute, was the topic of a video that recently won first prize in a contest sponsored by the Association of American Medical Colleges. ThisÂ was our video team’s first use of theÂ “fast hand on whiteboard” effect, and a lot of fun to make. The video’s strength growsÂ out of the footageÂ Konen and Marcus have of cancer cells migrating in culture. Check it out, if you haven’t already.
PosterÂ presentations at the 2015 ASCB meeting can be found by searching this PDF. A few Emory-centric highlights:
*Chelsey Ruppersburg and Criss Hartzell’s work on the “nimbus”, a torus-shaped structure enriched in proteins needed to build the cell’s primary cilium
*Anita CorbettÂ on how Emory students have a strong record of attaining their own NIH research funding
*Additional work by Adam Marcus’ lab on the tumor suppressor gene LKB1 and how its loss drives lung cancer cells to take on a “unique amoeboid morphology”
*Research from David Katz’s lab on the “epigenetic eraser” LSD1 (lysine-specific demethylase) and its function in neurons and neurodegeneration Read more
Graft-vs-host disease is a common and potentially deadly complication following bone marrow transplants, in which immune cells from the donated bone marrow attack the recipientâ€™s body.
Winship Cancer Instituteâ€™s Ned Waller and researchers from Childrenâ€™s Healthcare of Atlanta and Yerkes National Primate Research Center were part of a recent Science Translational Medicine paper that draws a bright red circle around aurora kinase A as a likely drug target in graft-vs-host disease.
Aurora kinases are enzymes that control mitosis, the process of cell division, and were first discovered in the 1990s in yeast, flies and frogs. Now drugs that inhibit aurora kinase A are in clinical trials for several types of cancer, and clinicans are planning to examine whether the same type of drugs could help with graft-vs-host disease.
Leslie Kean, a pediatric cancer specialist at Seattle Childrenâ€™s who was at Emory until 2013, is the senior author of the STM paper. Seattle Childrens’ press releaseÂ says that Kean wears a bracelet around her badge from a pediatric patient cured of leukemia one year ago, but who is still in the hospital due to complications from graft-vs-host. Read more
Doctors are using a â€œdivide and conquerâ€ strategy against lung cancer, and in some corners of the battlefield, itâ€™s working. A few mutations â€“ genetic alterations in the tumor that donâ€™t come from the patientâ€™s normal cells — have been found for which drugs are effective in pushing back against the cancer.
However, most lung tumors do not have one of these mutations, and response rates to conventional chemotherapy in patients with advanced lung cancer are poor. Generally, only around 20 percent of patients show a clinical response, in that the cancer retreats noticeably for some time.
Johann Brandes and colleagues at Winship Cancer Institute have been looking for biomarkers that can predict whether an advanced lung tumor is going to respond to one of the most common chemotherapy drug combinations, carboplatin and taxol.
â€œThe availability of a predictive test is desirable since it would allow patients who are unlikely to benefit from this treatment combination to be spared from side effects and to be selected for other, possibly more effective treatments,â€ Brandes says.
Brandesâ€™ teamâ€™s data comes from looking at patients with advanced lung cancer at the Atlanta VAMC from 1999 to 2010. In a 2013 paper in Clinical Cancer Research, the team looked at a protein called CHFR. It controls whether cells can reign in their cycles of cell division while being bombarded with chemotherapy.
In this group being treated with carboplatin and taxol, patients who had tumors that measured low in this protein lived almost four months longer, on average, than those who had tumors that were high (9.9 vs 6.2 months).
His team takes a similar approach in a new paper published in PLOS One. Postdoc Seth Brodie is the first author of the PLOS One paper; he is also co-first author of the CHFR paper along with Rathi Pillai. Read more
Years from now physicians may be able to determine whether you’re at increased risk for colorectal cancer by drawing blood from the tip of your finger.
Emory University researchers are working to identify biomarkers to detect a person’s chances of developing colon cancer. Much like blood pressure and cholesterol tests can indicate heart disease risk, researchers here hope that some day the makeup of blood and urine will be able to tell who’s at risk for colorectal cancer, why they may be at risk and what they can do to reduce their risk.
Postdoctoral fellows Joy Owen and Veronika Fedirko examine samples in Robin Bostick’s lab at the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University.
For now, the Emory study team is analyzing the rectal tissue samples of people with colon adenomatous polyps, non-cancerous growths considered precursors to colon cancer, and comparing them to rectal tissue samples from people who don’t have polyps. They’re also looking at whether the differences they detect in rectal tissue can also be found in blood or urine. Currently, no accepted tests exist to determine whether someone may be at risk for colon cancer.
“Most people would rather provide a blood or urine sample than get a rectal biopsy,” says Robin Bostick, MD, MPH, Rollins School of Public Health epidemiology professor and study principal investigator. Bostick is also a clinical faculty member at the Winship Cancer Institute at Emory and a Georgia Cancer Coalition Distinguished Cancer Scholar.
Researchers at the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University have found that the hormone adiponectin may reduce the ability of cancer cells to migrate from the breast and invade other tissues. Adiponectin appears to protect against the effects of obesity on metabolism, the heart and blood vessels, the researchers say.
Fat cells make up most of the breast tissue, and some of the hormones produced by fat cells can have tumor-stimulating effects. Previous studies have shown that women with high body mass index (highest fifth) have double the death rate from breast cancer compared to those in the lowest fifth.
Dipali Sharma, PhD
The key to translating this research for patient care lies in finding a way to increase a person’s adiponectin, says Dipali Sharma, PhD, assistant professor of hematology and medical oncology at Winship.
Currently, Winship scientists are testing a molecule found in certain foods that appears to mimic the effects of adiponectin. The molecule is found in grapes, cabbage and green tea.