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Advances at Mass General Cancer Center is our electronic publication that highlights our investigators’ recent publications in high-profile journals.
Can understanding metabolic reprogramming of genetic material in some cancer cells lead to new treatments? Download this article
Associate Professor of Medicine, Mass General Cancer Center and Harvard Medical School
A mutation in the KRAS gene, which plays a role in regulating cell division and survival, is commonly found in human cancers, such as pancreatic and non-small cell lung cancers. While KRAS has been shown to be important in the sustained growth of these tumors, effective KRAS inhibitors have been elusive, and these tumor types remain very difficult to treat. Some researchers propose that effective treatment for such cancers may rely on identifying therapeutic vulnerabilities that result from other mutations the patients might also carry.
Many important cancer genes such as KRAS alter cellular metabolism to support tumor cell growth. The metabolic changes required for a growing tumor can be further modulated by the presence of additional gene mutations. One such gene is LKB1, which encodes a tumorsuppressing enzyme whose normal function is to allow cells to adapt to changing nutrient conditions. Continue Reading
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This podcast is a companion to Mass General Cancer Center’s electronic publication, and both are centered around our investigators' recent publications in high-profile journals. Each expert will give you insight into who they are and what inspires them to do what they do every day. A deeper dive into their research will better your understanding of where our experts’ ideas come from, where they will go from here, and what the future has in store in their particular field of research.
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Can understanding plasticity of HER2 protein states in breast cancer cells of treatment-resistant tumors lead to better treatments? Download this article
Associate Professor of Surgery, Mass General Cancer Center and Harvard Medical School
Medical Oncologist, Mass General Cancer Center; Assistant Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School
Researchers Shyamala Maheswaran, PhD, Aditya Bardia, MD, and Nicole Vincent Jordan, PhD, of Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, along with Daniel Haber, MD, PhD, director of Mass General Cancer Center, using ex vivo cultures of circulating tumor cells derived from breast cancer patients, have shown that breast cancer cells can spontaneously switch from a HER2-negative to a HER2-positive state and vice versa. These two populations have different molecular pathways that drive their growth. Several growth-factor-driven pathways are active in the HER2-positive cells, and one pathway, called Notch, is active in the HER2-negative cells. Continue Reading
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Can palliative care help patients with hematologic malignancies? Download this article
Program Director, Bone Marrow Transplant Survivorship, Mass General Cancer Center; Assistant Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School
Palliative care, which aims to alleviate symptoms and improve mood for patients with life-threatening illnesses, is increasingly common for individuals with solid tumors in advanced stages. But such care is rarely prescribed for patients with hematologic malignancies, even though standard hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT) treatment for such cancers requires some of the highest dose chemotherapy—a course that can result in high symptom burdens and long, taxing hospital stays. Continue Reading
How do tumors evolve to evade the immune response? Download this article
Director, Cancer Immunotherapy at Mass General Cancer Center; Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School & Broad Institute
Director, Bioinformatics, Mass General Cancer Center and Department of Pathology; Paul C. Zamecnik Chair in Oncology, Mass General Cancer Center; Director, Cancer Genome Computational Analysis, Broad Institute Member, Broad Institute Associate Professor of Pathology, Harvard Medical School
While some patients with cancer mount a strong immune response against their tumors, most have no significant immune response against these invaders. Little is known, however, about what genetic and environmental factors shape an individual tumor’s response to the immune system, or about how the tumor and the immune system interact at a cellular and molecular level. Continue Reading
Can better understanding an epigenetic pathway lead to clues in one of the most lethal cancers? Download this article
Principal Investigator, Mostoslavsky Laboratory, and Kristine and Bob Higgins Mass General Hospital Research Scholar, Mass General Hospital Cancer Center; Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School
Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) accounts for 90% of all pancreatic cancers, and is one of the most lethal cancers in humans. PDAC is characterized by mutant KRAS, a gene involved in regulating cell division, but little is known about the molecular processes governing initiation, progression and metastasis in PDAC. As a consequence, no good new therapeutic targets have been identified for the cancer in three decades. Despite active research in this field, standard chemotherapy remains the primary treatment available for PDAC, and survival rates are under 5% after a year. Continue Reading
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