Research
Just as today’s cancer treatments would not be possible without prior breakthroughs, tomorrow’s therapies are reliant upon current studies and clinical trials. The Department of Medical Oncology and Therapeutics Research is instrumental in this scientific effort to develop cancer drugs that can give patients the best possible chance to survive and thrive after their diagnoses.
 
Working closely with City of Hope’s Developmental Cancer Therapeutics Program and other cancer centers, the multidisciplinary program includes basic, translational and clinical research and fosters collaborations among scientists and clinicians. The goal of this synergistic effort is to spark novel ideas that turn into new laboratory discoveries, which are then transformed into promising therapies for cancer patients with few (or no) other treatment options.
 
Highlights of Current Efforts
  • A major obstacle to successful drug treatment of brain tumors, particularly high-grade gliomas, is the blood-brain barrier, which prevents most anticancer agents from entering the central nervous system. Gliomas are also diffuse and highly infiltrative, which means no clear border exists between tumor and normal brain. Human neural stem cells hold great promise for glioma therapy due to their inherent ability to hone in on tumor cells and bypass the blood-brain barrier. This makes neural stem cells effective vehicles for drug delivery, allowing for a concentrated amount of active drug to be applied directly to tumor cells while minimizing toxicity to normal brain tissue. City of Hope is currently conducting clinical trials testing this novel approach.
Principal investigator: Jana Portnow, M.D.
 
  • Laboratory studies revealed that the mushroom extract, particularly from the common white button mushroom, contain phytochemicals that can inhibit cancer through several means. As a result of this research, City of Hope have conducted clinical trials studying mushrooms’ potential against breast cancer and prostate cancer.
Principal investigators: Melanie Palomares, M.D., M.S. and Przemyslaw Twardowski, M.D.
 
  • Liposarcoma—or cancer of the fat cells—is the second most common soft-tissue sarcoma. Protease inhibitors (currently used to treat HIV infections) may hold promise in treating this disease due to the drug’s effect on fat cells. Based on preclinical studies supporting the use of protease inhibitors on liposarcomas, City of Hope is currently conducting a clinical trial using nelfinavir against recurrent liposarcomas.
Principal investigator: Warren Chow, M.D.
 
  • The Cancer and Aging Research Program, which conducts studies to establish the best pattern of care for cancer patients aged 65 and older, including:
    • Developing an assessment tool that improves oncologists ability to anticipate chemotherapy toxicity
    • Examining how cancer drugs affect older patients differently, including how they are absorbed and processed, in addition to their associated side effects.
    • Predicting overall outcomes and developing interventions to improve outcomes among older patients.
Principal investigator: Arti Hurria, M.D.
 
  • The California Cancer Consortium program, a National Cancer Institute-funded collaboration combining the expertise of City of Hope, University of Southern California and University of California, Davis. Together, researchers and clinicians in this program are investigating:
    • Agents that can target cancer and disrupt its life and division cycles
    • Special populations who react differently to cancer drugs due to factors such as genetics, cancer subtype or abnormal organ function.
    • The biological mechanisms behind drug response and resistance.
Principal investigators: Edward Newman, Ph.D., and Robert Morgan, M.D.