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Scientists showcase new research at 2020 AACR Virtual Meeting II

City of Hope scientists will showcase research at the AACR Virtual Annual Meeting II that could one day lead to real-time diagnostic imaging and leading-edge genomic profiling that improve health outcomes for cancer patients, and much more.
“Innovative cancer immunotherapy and lifesaving precision medicine are areas City of Hope has doubled down on. In the years to come, we expect to yield research results that could be developed into therapies and practices that transform the delivery of cancer care,” said Michael Caligiuri, M.D., president of City of Hope National Medical Center, former American Association for Cancer Research president and the Deana and Steve Campbell Physician-in-Chief Distinguished Chair.
AACR’s second virtual session will take place from June 22 to 24. More than 61,000 people from 140 countries registered to attend the first virtual session in April. The multidisciplinary meeting program will highlight the best cancer science and medicine in the world.

Using imaging biomarkers to deliver personalized care

City of Hope physician-scientists are developing accurate theranostics (therapy plus diagnostics) to deliver precision medicine in cancer care using machine learning models to compare the “survival prediction performance” of patients who have a type of brain tumor called high-grade glioma.
Having accurate survival prediction performance equips doctors with the data necessary to determine the best treatment options for each patient. Physician-scientists performed baseline imaging, surgically removed the brain cancer and then delivered CAR T cell therapy. Using machine learning, the researchers found that labeling tumor voxels (3D pixels) as non-enhancing tumor (NET) was significantly more accurate at predicting prognosis than using other labeling methods. Further research is needed to make this model more robust.

Precision medicine: Full DNA and RNA genome profiling of all cancer patients

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Sumanta Pal, M.D., Ph.D.

City of Hope is working toward profiling the genomes of all patients to provide the most effective, personalized treatment. Sumanta Pal, M.D., co-director of City of Hope’s Kidney Cancer Program, led a study that looked at tumor-specific alterations resulting from specific cancer treatments. Using a proprietary tool that analyzes all DNA-coding regions, the City of Hope researchers found that having an abundance of mutations at the very end of certain RNA (known as telomeres or TERT promoter mutations) may be a biomarker that predicts immunotherapy will not work for a patient.
Understanding how useful certain treatments will be for a specific patient can help physicians weed out ineffective treatments so that time and money can be spent on treatments that have a chance of bringing the patient into remission. Because the sample size was 58 patients, this research warrants further investigation with a larger group.