VICC News & Publications Fri, 25 Jul 2014 20:00:55 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Colon cancer’s protein signatures identified Fri, 25 Jul 2014 20:00:55 +0000 by Bill Snyder

A Vanderbilt University-led research team has identified protein “signatures” of genetic mutations that drive colorectal cancer, the nation’s second leading cause of cancer deaths after lung cancer.

Dan Liebler, Ph.D., and colleagues identified protein “signatures” of genetic mutations that drive colorectal cancer, the nation’s second leading cause of cancer deaths after lung cancer. (photo by Susan Urmy)

Dan Liebler, Ph.D., and colleagues identified protein “signatures” of genetic mutations that drive colorectal cancer, the nation’s second leading cause of cancer deaths after lung cancer. (photo by Susan Urmy)

The technological tour de force, described as the first integrated “proteogenomic” characterization of human cancer, was reported online this week by the journal Nature. It “will enable new advances” in diagnosing and treating the disease, the researchers concluded.

“It’s a first-of-its-kind paper. I think it’s a very important advance in the field,” said senior author Daniel Liebler, Ph.D., Ingram Professor of Cancer Research and director of the Jim Ayers Institute for Precancer Detection and Diagnosis at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center.

The research team, representing Vanderbilt and six other institutions, is part of the Clinical Proteomic Tumor Analysis Consortium (CPTAC), sponsored by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health.

Proteomics is the study of proteins. While many genetic mutations associated with cancer have been identified, it has been more difficult to analyze the structure and function of proteins that actually do cancer’s “work.” Until now.

The researchers used advanced mass spectrometry techniques to gather proteomic data on 95 human colorectal tumor samples characterized previously by The Cancer Genome Atlas, a federally funded project to identify genetic abnormalities in cancer.

Data analysis was led by first author Bing Zhang, Ph.D., associate professor of Biomedical Informatics. ”Integrating the proteomics data with the vast amount of pre-existing genomic data is a daunting task,” Zhang said, “however, it is also the key to turn the data into novel insights.”

Jim Ayers, center, greets members of the research team during an Ayers Institute board meeting in April. From left are Qi Liu, Ph.D., Zhiao Shi, Ph.D., and the paper's first author, Bing Zhang, Ph.D. Janet Ayers is at far right. (photo by Joe Howell)

Jim Ayers, center, greets members of the research team during an Ayers Institute board meeting in April. From left are Qi Liu, Ph.D., Zhiao Shi, Ph.D., and the paper’s first author, Bing Zhang, Ph.D. Janet Ayers is at far right. (photo by Joe Howell)

It is a basic biological principle that DNA — the genetic code — is “transcribed” into messenger RNA, then “translated” into proteins. Yet the researchers found that abnormalities in the genes or even the RNA of the samples did not necessarily “translate” into abnormal proteins.

Similarly, some sections of chromosomes that were “amplified” in the tumor samples did not result in amplified or increased protein levels.

Those that did, however, produced “striking effects,” suggesting that proteomics might help identify and prioritize the most “impactful” genetic abnormalities that could be targets for new diagnostic tests or drug treatments, Liebler said.

The researchers also identified five subtypes of colon cancer based on their protein content, one of which was associated with poor outcomes. Proteomics thus may help identify patients who would benefit most from chemotherapy after surgery.

“Our discovery of proteomic subtypes opens the door to protein-based diagnostics that could potentially identify the bad cancers that need the aggressive therapy,” Liebler said. “That’s what we’re really hot on going forward.”

Liebler said that the support of the Ayers Institute, established in 2005 with a $10 million gift from Jim Ayers, chairman of FirstBank in Lexington, Tenn., and his wife Janet Ayers, was critical for building the infrastructure for conducting the research.

“Without the Ayers Institute, we wouldn’t have been in a position to even apply for the CPTAC program, to be a part of this at all,” he said.

“This is exciting news that appears to have tremendous implications for cancer diagnosis and treatment,” Janet Ayers said. “Jim and I extend our congratulations to Dr. Liebler and the team working with the Jim Ayers Institute for Precancer Detection and Diagnosis at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center.

“These are the kinds of discoveries we hoped for when the institute was launched just a few years ago,” she said. “To start seeing results like this so quickly is extremely rewarding.”

Vanderbilt co-authors from the departments of Biochemistry, Biomedical Informatics, Computer Science and Surgery were Jing Wang, Ph.D., Xiaojing Wang, Ph.D., Jing Zhu, Ph.D., Qi Liu, Ph.D., Zhiao Shi, Ph.D., Matthew Chambers, Lisa Zimmerman, Ph.D., Kent Shaddox, David Tabb, Ph.D., Robert Coffey Jr., M.D., and Robert J.C. Slebos, Ph.D.

Others were from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Washington, Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, New York’s Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, the National Cancer Institute and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard.

The study was supported by NIH grants CA159988, CA160035, CA160034, CA095103, CA068485 and GM088822.

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Abramson lands breast cancer research award Wed, 23 Jul 2014 13:00:56 +0000 by Dagny Stuart


Vandana Abramson, M.D.

Vandana Abramson, M.D.


Vandana Abramson, M.D., assistant professor of Medicine and a breast cancer specialist at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, has received the Advanced Clinical Research Award in Breast Cancer from the Conquer Cancer Foundation (CCF).

The CCF grants and awards support cancer research done by physician-scientists at every stage of their careers.

Abramson’s Advanced Clinical Research Award (ACRA) in Breast Cancer was announced during the 50th Annual Meeting of ASCO, held recently in Chicago. Only one ACRA grant is awarded each year.

“I am thrilled and honored to receive this important grant award from the Conquer Cancer Foundation of the American Society of Clinical Oncology,” said Abramson. “This crucial funding will help support my research to improve therapies for breast cancer patients.”

Abramson will receive the ACRA in Breast Cancer grant totaling $450,000 over three years for research that includes two complementary clinical trials that use recent advances in the molecular understanding of triple negative breast cancer (TNBC).

The trials highlight novel, molecularly targeted treatments for recently defined subtypes of TNBC, which is one of the most aggressive forms of breast cancer.

This year’s ACRA award is also supported by funding from the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

The CCF was created by cancer physicians of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) to seek dramatic advances in the prevention, treatment and cure for all types of cancer.

Abramson received her Bachelor of Arts in English and Molecular & Cell Biology from the University of California, Berkeley, and earned her M.D. from the University of Chicago. She completed a residency in Internal Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and Hematology/Oncology training at the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia. She joined the Vanderbilt faculty in 2009.

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Research bolstered by lung cancer foundation Mon, 21 Jul 2014 13:00:02 +0000 by Dagny Stuart

Christine Lovly, M.D., Ph.D.

Christine Lovly, M.D., Ph.D.

The LUNGevity Foundation has awarded a 2014 Career Development Award for Translational Research to Christine Lovly, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of Medicine and Cancer Biology.

Lovly is one of three recipients of the annual grants, which provide $300,000 over three years for lung cancer research.

“This is a wonderful award and I am so pleased and honored that the LUNGevity Foundation has decided to support this important research,” said Lovly.

The LUNGevity Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to accelerating research into early detection and more effective treatments for lung cancer, in addition to providing community support and education for patients and families.

The Foundation’s Scientific Advisory Board is led by Pierre Massion, M.D., Ingram Professor of Cancer Research and director of the Thoracic Program at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center.
 The LUNGevity Career Development Award will help fund Lovly’s project to study why drugs that target a specific gene fusion in lung cancer eventually stop working.

Molecular alterations in the ALK gene are detected in a small percentage of patients with lung cancer. Drugs which inhibit or block the activity of ALK have demonstrated remarkable clinical results in patients with ALK+ lung cancer.

Unfortunately, despite these results, virtually all of the patients eventually develop resistance to the therapy.

The goal of Lovly’s research is to develop novel, rationally selected therapeutic strategies to delay and/or overcome acquired resistance to ALK inhibitor drugs.

Using a combination of experimental approaches, including cell culture models, biochemical assays and a study of patient tumor samples prior to and at the time of acquired resistance to ALK tyrosine kinase inhibitor therapy, she will study how ALK transmits signals to promote cancer growth and how these signals become altered in the context of acquired resistance. This work will identify novel targets that can be blocked, in combination with ALK inhibitors, to promote enhanced anti-tumor responses.

The results of these studies are expected not only to provide additional insight into ALK+ lung cancer, but will also extend to many other cancers that also harbor ALK molecular alterations.

In addition to her laboratory work, Lovly is co-editor of My Cancer Genome, a Vanderbilt-powered freely available online resource that provides up-to-date information about tumor gene mutations and implications for targeted therapies.

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Breast tissue protein may promote cancer Fri, 18 Jul 2014 12:00:16 +0000 by Bill Snyder

Ian Macara, Ph.D., right, Yongliang Huo, Ph.D., and colleagues are studying a protein that may play a role in breast cancer.

Ian Macara, Ph.D., right, Yongliang Huo, Ph.D., and colleagues are studying a protein that may play a role in breast cancer.

A protein essential for growth of normal breast tissue also may play a role in breast cancer, Vanderbilt University researchers have found.

Reporting recently in Nature Cell Biology, Yongliang Huo, Ph.D., and Ian Macara, Ph.D., for the first time describe the function of a protein called Par3L, which is expressed by a gene Macara and colleagues discovered at the University of Virginia in 2002.

Par3L is very similar to another protein, Par3, which functions as a polarity protein. That means it helps determine the “top-bottom” orientation of cells, including the adult stem cells that give rise to new epithelial tissues throughout the body, including the breast.

Epithelial cells line the ducts that produce milk in the breast, and pump it to the nipples. Normal growth of breast tissue occurs during each menstrual cycle, and during pregnancy and lactation. However, the biological role of Par3L itself was completely unknown.

Macara, who came to Vanderbilt in 2012 to chair the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, and Huo, a postdoctoral fellow in his lab, found that Par3L is present specifically in mammary stem cells, and at the growing tips of mammary ducts.

If the gene for Par3L is deleted or “knocked down,” mammary stem cells in the mouse die, and mammary tissue doesn’t grow.

Huo discovered the mechanism: Normally Par3L “puts the brakes” on another polarity protein called LKB1, which suppresses mammary tissue growth. LKB1 is an important regulator of growth — loss of LKB1 can cause cancer in several organs, including the breast, but too much LKB1 can kill cells.

Without Par3L to tamp down the activity of this protein, LKB1becomes over-active and stem cells quickly die. If, on the other hand, Par3L is overexpressed, it acts as a “tumor promoter” by shutting down LKB1 and promoting uncontrolled growth, not only in the breast but in other tissues.

“We really need to know more about what this protein does and how it works,” said Macara, a Louise B. McGavock Professor in the department.

Eighty percent of all human cancers and all breast cancers arise from epithelial tissues. “There’s a lot of evidence that stem cells are the cells of origin of breast cancer,” he said, but “there’s still much that we don’t understand about the mammary stem cells themselves.

“How do they produce all the different cells in the ducts of the breast? How do they know when to grow and when to stop growing?

“We’re hoping to investigate this more rigorously in the future, and really begin to understand how polarity proteins contribute to the development of breast tissue, and to the defects that lead to breast cancer,” Macara said.

The study was supported by NIH grant GM070902 and a Department of Defense postdoctoral fellowship grant.

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Pietenpol joins IOM Cancer Policy Forum Thu, 10 Jul 2014 21:33:09 +0000 by Dagny Stuart

Jennifer Pietenpol, Ph.D., B.F. Byrd Jr. Professor of Oncology and director of Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, has been named an at-large member of the National Cancer Policy Forum, an advisory group of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academies.

Jennifer Pietenpol, Ph.D.

Jennifer Pietenpol, Ph.D.

The IOM established the forum to serve as a trusted venue for national leaders from multiple sectors to work cooperatively to address high-priority policy issues in the nation’s effort to combat cancer.

Pietenpol is serving a three-year term.

“It is a wonderful privilege and honor to be invited to participate as a member of this forum,” said Pietenpol, who also heads a VICC research laboratory focusing on the molecular underpinnings of cancer. “We are at a crucial juncture in cancer research as we elucidate genetic changes that contribute to cancer, and we will need a focused and coordinated effort to use this information for the development of improved prevention strategies and therapies for patients worldwide.”

Members of the National Cancer Policy Forum work together to identify emerging high-priority policy issues in science, clinical medicine and public health relevant to the prevention and treatment of cancer.

Participants include clinicians, patients, researchers, professional and advocacy organizations, pharmaceutical manufacturers and policymakers. The forum enables all members to be full participants in discussing critical policy issues and examining strategies for improvement, and the group produces publicly available reports.

During the most recent meeting, members examined the issue of escalating treatment costs, as well as shortages of some cancer drugs and the impact of these issues on cancer patients and their families.

In June 2008, Pietenpol was appointed to a six-year term on the 12-member National Cancer Advisory Board of the NIH’s National Cancer Institute. She is a member of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Scientific Advisory Committee and has been on the board of directors of the American Association for Cancer Research.

Pietenpol has served as associate editor or on the editorial board for numerous biomedical research journals. She has authored or co-authored more than 110 articles published in peer-reviewed scientific publications and is an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

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VICC researchers in national spotlight Wed, 25 Jun 2014 13:00:54 +0000 by Dagny Stuart

Early research suggests patients with advanced melanoma — the most deadly form of skin cancer — may benefit from both immunotherapies and targeted therapies aimed at specific gene mutations. However, no combinations of these two classes of drugs have been shown to be safe, so far.

Igor Puzanov, M.D., MSCI

Igor Puzanov, M.D., MSCI

The results of the first such combination study with more promising outcomes were reported by lead author Igor Puzanov, M.D., MSCI, associateprofessor of Medicine at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, during the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), held May 30 to June 3 in Chicago.

Puzanov was among nearly 20 VICC investigators who presented research findings during the ASCO conference, which attracts nearly 30,000 cancer researchers and other participants from around the world.

Melanoma patients whose tumors harbor a BRAF V600 gene mutation were enrolled in the Phase 1b study testing the safety of a two drug combination — the BRAF inhibitor dabrafenib plus ipilimumab (Ipi), an immunotherapy drug — or those two treatments plus the MEK inhibitor drug trametinib. A previous study using Ipi with a different BRAF inhibitor, vemurafenib, led to unacceptable liver toxicity.

Puzanov presented early results of the new study, which indicated that the combination of dabrafenib and ipilimumab was tolerable, with no significant effects on liver function.

However, the three-drug combination led to surprising levels of colitis, suggesting a potent synergy among dabrafenib, trametinib and ipilimumab.

In a separate poster highlight session, Puzanov also reported on a Phase 1b/2 study of ipilimumab plus T-VEC, an oncolytic virus engineered to stimulate the immune system. Early signals from this study show the combination may be more effective than Ipi alone, with a 56 percent response rate.

“After decades of research, we finally have new therapies that are producing better results for many melanoma patients, but it is clear that we may have to combine some of these therapies for optimal outcomes. These early studies are showing encouraging results,” Puzanov said.

Jeffrey Sosman, M.D.

Jeffrey Sosman, M.D.

In other ASCO news, Jeffrey Sosman, M.D., director of the Melanoma and Immunotherapy Program, reported on the investigational drug LEE011, a

CDK 4/6 inhibitor used in combination with the MEK inhibitor binimetinib in patients whose tumors show an NRAS mutation. The early activity showed a 33 percent overall response rate, a promising result in this aggressive subtype of melanoma.

While many positive developments in cancer therapy were announced at the conference, reporting on the 2013 Institute of Medicine Report “Delivering High-Quality Cancer Care,” Michael Neuss, M.D., chief medical officer at VICC, said these advances won’t be available to all patients unless organizations and governments address issues of accessibility and affordability of cancer care.

Michael Neuss, M.D.

Michael Neuss, M.D.

During an ASCO education session, Neuss noted that the “National Healthcare Disparities Report 2013” from the U.S. Department of Health and

Human Services found that disparities are increasing for cancer screening, with access to mammography and colonoscopy screening varying according to income level. Without screening for early detection, some groups of cancer patients have worse outcomes.

“The bottom line is that more African-Americans are dying with breast cancer than Caucasians,” said Neuss.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act increases coverage for some preventive services, including mammography and screening for colorectal and cervical cancer, but this expanded coverage will not be available for patients in states like Tennessee that did not expand Medicaid coverage.

“It makes a real difference in health outcomes for patients with no access to health care who are in either racially disadvantaged or income-disadvantaged populations,” Neuss said.

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HPV-Positive Head and Neck Cancer Patients May be Safely Treated with Lower Radiation Dose Thu, 19 Jun 2014 20:45:55 +0000 by Dagny Stuart

A new study suggests that lowering the dose of radiation therapy for some head and neck cancer patients may improve outcomes and cause fewer long-term side effects.

Anthony J. Cmelak, M.D.

Anthony J. Cmelak, M.D.

The research was presented by lead author Anthony Cmelak, M.D., professor of Radiation Oncology at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center (VICC), during the 50th annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), held recently in Chicago.

The study focused on patients with newly-diagnosed oropharyngeal cancers related to the human papilloma virus (HPV). More than two-thirds of new head and neck cancer patients have HPV-positive tumors and the number of these patients is on the rise. Cmelak’s prior cooperative group study found that patients with HPV-positive oropharyngeal cancer have significantly longer survival rates than patients whose tumors are HPV negative.

For the new study, 80 HPV-positive patients with stage III, or IVa,b squamous cell cancer of the oropharynx received induction chemotherapy, including paclitaxel, cisplatin and cetuximab.

After chemotherapy, 62 of the patients showed no sign of cancer and were assigned to receive a 25 percent lower dose of intensity-modulated radiation therapy – an advanced technology that targets the radiation beam more accurately to treat the tumor without harming surrounding tissue. The rest of the patients received a standard IMRT dose. The drug cetuximab was also given to both groups of patients along with the IMRT treatment.

Two years after treatment, the survival for the low-dose IMRT patients was 93 percent.  Those who did not have complete resolution of cancer following induction and went on to get full-dose radiation had an 87 percent two-year survival. Eighty percent of the low-dose patients and 65 percent of standard IMRT patients also showed no evidence of tumor recurrence.  Ninety-six percent of those who had minimal or no smoking history had no evidence of tumor recurrence after two years following treatment, and long-term side effects were minimal.

The investigators concluded that patients with HPV-positive cancer who had excellent responses to induction chemotherapy followed by a reduced dose IMRT and cetuximab experienced high rates of tumor control and very low side effects particularly for those with a minimal smoking history.

Treating tumors in the delicate head and neck region often causes side effects that can be troublesome and long-lasting, including difficulty swallowing, speech impairment, dry mouth, problems with taste and thyroid issues, so any therapy option that reduces these side effects can have an impact on patient quality of life.

“Treatment for head and neck cancer can be quite grueling, so it’s very encouraging to see we can safely dial back treatment for patients with less aggressive disease and an overall good prognosis, particularly for young patients who have many years to deal with long-term side effects,” said Cmelak.

He noted that lower-dose IMRT is not recommended for patients with HPV-negative cancer or larger tumors.

The authors note that further studies of reduced-dose IMRT in HPV-positive patients are warranted.

Other investigators include Jill Gilbert, M.D., VICC; Shuli Li, Ph.D., Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts; Shanthi Marur, M.D., William Westra, M.D., Christine Chung, M.D., The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland;  Weiqiang Zhao, M.D., Ph.D., Maura Gillison, M.D., Ph.D., The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio; Julie Bauman, M.D., Robert Ferris, M.D., University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute; Lynne Wagner, Ph.D., Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois; David Trevarthen, M.D., Colorado Cancer Research Program, Denver;  A. Demetrios Colevas, M.D., Stanford University, California; Balkrishna Jahagirdar, M.D., HealthPartners and Regions Cancer Care Center, St. Paul, Minnesota;  Barbara Burtness, M.D., Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Funding was provided by The National Cancer Institute, a division of the National Institutes of Health (CDR0000665170).

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Rising Tobacco Epidemic in Asia Tue, 10 Jun 2014 20:41:58 +0000 A new study estimates that tobacco smoking has been linked to approximately 2 million deaths among adult men and women in Asia in recent years and predicts a rising death toll. The study, published in PLOS Medicine, was led by Wei Zheng, M.D., Ph.D., MPH, professor of Medicine and director of the Vanderbilt Epidemiology Center, and John Potter, M.D., Ph.D., a member and scientific advisor of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, Washington.

Wei Zheng, M.D., Ph.D.

Wei Zheng, M.D., Ph.D.

Roughly 60 percent of the world’s population lives in Asia where approximately half of men are tobacco smokers. The study’s authors, representing more than 3 dozen medical centers, government health agencies and institutes in the U.S., Asia and Europe, credit this rise in smoking among Asians to aggressive product marketing by tobacco companies and a lack of education about health issues related to tobacco.

For this population-based research, investigators pooled data from large cohort studies conducted in Asia and included demographic and risk factor information collected in seven Asian regions from the early 1960s through the late 1990s (although most of the studies enrolled participants after the mid-1980s). The cohorts of 1,223,092 participants who were at least 45 years of age were in Bangladesh, India, mainland China, Japan, Republic of Korea, Singapore and Taiwan.

Among men who had ever smoked, there was an elevated risk of death from cardiovascular disease (CVD), cancer or respiratory diseases in all of the geographic regions in 2004. The risk of death due to any disease, however, varied considerably across populations, with the stronger association generally found in Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan compared to that observed in mainland China and India.

The association with cancer risk was quite consistent across study populations. Men who had smoked were nearly twice as likely to die from cancer, especially lung cancer, but there was also an elevated risk of death from cancers of the head and neck, esophagus, stomach, colorectum, liver, pancreas and bladder – all diseases that have been linked to smoking in previous studies, according to the authors.

Men who had ever smoked tobacco were approximately 50 percent more likely to die from respiratory diseases than those who had not smoked.

While women in most Asian regions are far less likely to smoke than men, the study also found an increased risk of death from cancer, CVD and respiratory diseases among East Asian women. Approximately 16.7 percent of lung cancer deaths in East Asian women at least 45 years old were attributable to tobacco smoking in 2004, while for men, this number approached 63.2 percent.

“Our study showed a clear dose-response relationship between the length of time someone smoked and the number of packs they smoked, known as pack-years, and the risk of death from all causes,” said Zheng. “Tobacco smoking has now reached epidemic proportions in Asia and it is likely, with the maturation of this epidemic, and the lack of effective tobacco control efforts, smokers will continue to face an increased risk of death from cancer and other diseases.”

Other Vanderbilt investigators involved with this study include Zhenming Fu, a former postdoctoral fellow, Xiao Ou Shu, M.D., Ph.D., MPH, and Gong Yang, M.D., MPH.

Funding was provided by the World Health Organization and a number of government agencies in several countries, including the U.S. National Institutes of Health (P42ES010349, R01CA102484, R01CA107431, R01CA0403092, R01CA144034, R01CA82729, R37CA70867, R01CA55069, R35CA53890, R01CA80205, R01CA144034).

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My Cancer Genome launches new mobile app Fri, 30 May 2014 19:20:06 +0000 by Dagny Stuart

My Cancer Genome, an online precision cancer medicine tool developed by researchers at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, has unveiled an updated free mobile app that provides even more information about genetic alterations in various types of cancer and the therapies available to treat those alterations.

The new MCG mobile app is searchable and features regularly updated information from the My Cancer Genome website (, an international resource for genetically informed cancer medicine.

“We know that cancer is not a single homogenous disease and individual patients may have specific gene mutations or alterations that are best treated with therapies targeted to those alterations,” said Mia Levy, M.D., Ph.D., VICC co-founder of the My Cancer Genome tool. “We launched this new app to provide the latest information about targeted therapies to physicians, patients, researchers and caregivers.”

The app expands the information about anticancer agents and targeted therapies available in the MCG Drug List app that was released in June 2013. The content includes information about various forms of cancer, cancer-related genes, and specific alterations, including gene mutations and fusions. Content on the My Cancer Genome website and mobile application is provided and updated by physicians and physician-scientists from 22 institutions in 10 countries and already covers hundreds of mutations in 19 cancer types.

Users can search by cancer type, gene alteration, drug name (both commercial and experimental), and they can find clinical trials available for patients with those gene alterations. Users can also save favorite searches and pages of interest to stay informed when the pages are updated.

The new MCG app has been redesigned to accommodate an iPad tablet layout and is available for iPhone and iPad at no cost in the iTunes online store.

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Arteaga Assumes AACR Post Tue, 22 Apr 2014 18:20:26 +0000 Carlos L. Arteaga, M.D., professor of Medicine and Cancer Biology and Donna S. Hall Professor of Breast Cancer Research at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, has assumed the presidency of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) for 2014-2015. He was inaugurated during the AACR Annual Meeting which was held April 5-9, in San Diego.

Carlos L. Arteaga, M.D.

Carlos L. Arteaga, M.D.
© 2014 AACR/Todd Buchanan

AACR, founded in 1907, is the world’s largest professional organization dedicated to advancing cancer research and the prevention and cure of cancer. AACR membership includes more than 34,000 laboratory, translational and clinical researchers, along with population scientists, other health care professionals and cancer advocates in 97 countries.

Arteaga, who joined the Vanderbilt University faculty in 1989, is director of: the Center for Cancer Targeted Therapies (CCTT) at VICC; the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center Research Network (VICCRN); and the Breast Cancer Program, and serves as associate director for clinical research at VICC.

Since 2001, he has been the leader of the Vanderbilt Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) in breast cancer, which recently received a third round of funding from the National Cancer Institute.

“I am extremely honored to be able to serve as president of the AACR,” said Arteaga. “This is a time when the pace of discovery and progress in cancer research has never been better. Thus, I commit to work tirelessly with the AACR so the organization continues to be a main force and custodian of progress and discovery for the benefit of many patients afflicted with cancer.”

“Carlos Arteaga is one of the most respected breast cancer investigators in the world.  He has made some of the seminal discoveries in breast cancer research and translated them to the clinic,” said Jennifer Pietenpol, Ph.D., Benjamin F. Byrd Jr. Professor of Oncology and director of VICC. “We are fortunate to have him on our VICC leadership team and are proud that he has been selected by his peers for this crucial leadership role in such a prestigious cancer organization.”

Arteaga is internationally recognized for his cancer research, including oncogene signaling and molecular therapeutics in breast cancer with an emphasis on targeted therapies, mechanisms of drug resistance and investigator-initiated clinical trials. Early in his career, he was the first to identify the roles of IGF-I receptors and TGF beta in breast cancer progression and their use as therapeutic targets.

More recently, Arteaga and his team have focused on presurgical and neoadjuvant therapies to discover molecular biomarkers that are useful for patient selection in clinical trials.

Arteaga has been active as a leader with AACR for more than a decade. He has served as a member of the Board of Directors, chair of the AACR Special Conferences Committee, member and chair for several special meetings and an editorial board member of the AACR journals, Molecular Cancer Therapeutics and Clinical Cancer Research. He has served as co-chair of the annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium since 2009 and is a principal investigator with the Stand Up To Cancer Dream Team, Targeting the PI3K Pathways in Women’s Cancers.

During his career, Arteaga has received several awards, including the AACR-Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Award; the American Cancer Society Clinical Research Professor Award; the Gianni Bonadonna Award from the American Society of Clinical Oncology; the Brinker Award for Scientific Distinction from Susan G. Komen; and the Clinical Investigator Award from the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. In 2013, he was elected as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences. Additionally, he is an elected member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation and the Association of American Physicians and member of the Susan G. Komen Scientific Advisory Board.

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