City of Hope scientists present new cancer research at the American Association for Cancer Research conference

April 12, 2018
Chantal Roshetar
[email protected]
City of Hope panelists will also discuss research on CAR T, lymphoma and health inequities 

DUARTE, Calif. — City of Hope, a world-renowned independent research and treatment center for cancer and diabetes, will highlight a variety of basic research and population studies at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) at Chicago’s McCormick Place April 14 to 18.

The AACR meeting, which will host an anticipated 22,000 representatives from academia, industry, government and advocacy organizations from across the globe, highlights the best cancer science and medicine from institutions all over the world.

“The AACR meeting draws physicians, scientists, nurses, patients, advocates and others in the field of cancer research together to discuss the most promising breakthroughs in cancer diagnosis, prevention and treatment,” said Michael A. Caligiuri, M.D., president, City of Hope National Medical Center, Deana and Steve Campbell Physician-in-Chief Distinguished Chair and AACR president. “City of Hope physicians and scientists will share their discoveries and expertise with colleagues in the cancer field, who share a passion for finding better cures for cancer patients.”

Symposia and poster sessions will feature City of Hope studies on leading-edge cancer treatment and research. Highlighted presentations include:

AACR Presidential Address on the human immune system, from bench to bedside
Caligiuri will give a presentation titled “Human natural killer cells: From biology to CARs (chimeric antigen receptors) in the clinic” on Sunday, April 15, at 5:30 p.m. in Room W196 – McCormick Place West (Level 1). The talk will detail 25 years of Caligiuri’s work on the body’s natural killer cells, from their development to their role in surveying the body to protect against cancer and infection to their modification for re-entry into the clinic as CAR NK cells. For this work as well as for his commitment to advancing cancer health disparities research and promoting the collection and use of clinical samples, Caligiuri was recently elected to the 2018 Class of Fellows of the AACR Academy. The academy recognizes and honors distinguished scientists whose major scientific contributions have propelled significant innovation and progress against cancer.

City of Hope doctors and scientists to speak in symposiums
Behnam Badie, M.D., City of Hope chief of the Division of Neurosurgery and director of the Brain Tumor Program, will speak at a session that provides an overview of recent advances in CAR T cell therapy and discusses scientific and regulatory challenges related to the clinical development of CAR T therapy for solid tumors. The session takes place on Monday, April 16, 10:30 a.m. - 12:15 p.m., in Room S401bcd – McCormick Place South (Level 4).

Rick Kittles, Ph.D., associate director of health equities in the City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center and professor/director, Division of Health Equities, in the Department of Population Sciences, will participate in a major symposium that discusses racial/ethnic disparities in cancer outcomes, and how recent studies suggest that the development of racial/ethnic-specific cancer targeted treatments, diagnostic assays and response profiles might contribute to the elimination of racial/ethnic disparities in cancer outcomes on Tuesday, April 17, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in Room S106 – McCormick Place (Level 1).

Markus Müschen, M.D., Ph.D., professor and chair, City of Hope Department of Systems Biology and the Norman and Sadie Lee Foundation Endowed Professor, and Jaewoong Lee, Ph.D., assistant research professor in City of Hope’s Department of Systems Biology, will discuss how CD25 enables BCR- and TCR-signaling and represents a therapeutic target in lymphoblastic malignancies as part of a minisymposium defining new immunotherapeutic targets through deep molecular characterization. The session takes place on Monday, April 16, from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. in Room S100 (Grand Ballroom) – McCormick Place South (Level 1).

Black women’s knowledge of breast cancer and hair product-related risk
Dede Teteh, DrPH, a post-doctoral fellow in City of Hope’s Division of Health Equities, will present research on the Cost of Beauty project, a community-based participatory research study led by co-principal investigators Phyllis Clark, Eudora Mitchell and Susanne Montgomery, Ph.D. The study examines the potential role of hair products in breast cancer etiology in African American, African and Caribbean black women. Hair products were collected from locations frequented by black women and hair stylists, and the Environmental Working Group’s Skindeep© database was used to evaluate ingredient toxicity. Key informant interviews, focus groups and a survey were then used to assess participants’ knowledge about breast cancer and hair product-related risks.

The study found that all 54 products evaluated from local hair salons contained hazardous ingredients. Fourteen of the ingredients had an overall high hazard rating between 7-10 (with 10 indicating very high levels of toxicity). The potential harmful effects of these chemicals include cancer and endocrine disruption, while some act as reproductive system toxicants. The study included 211 women, most of whom had a college or graduate degree, were more knowledgeable about the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer (46 percent) than about hair product-related risk (40 percent).  

“This study is adding to the dialogue on the impact of personal care products on black women’s health,” Teteh said. “We encourage our participants to read their product labels, know what is in the products they use and promote the manufacture of kitchen products using safe ingredients.”  

Exercise alleviates inflammation-related biomarkers in breast cancer survivors
According to the most current U.S. census, there are about 3.1 million breast cancer survivors in the United States. Although advances in breast cancer therapy have greatly improved survival, successful treatment often comes at a cost, including metabolic disease. Survivors also experience an increase in inflammatory conditions, which cause chronic pain, swelling and other health problems. Research has shown exercise may help combat these and other health conditions, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer recurrence.

Jessica Clague DeHart, Ph.D., assistant professor, in the Division of Biomarkers of Early Detection and Prevention in City of Hope's Department of Population Sciences, initiated a feasibility study of a community-based exercise intervention among breast cancer survivors to look at the change in inflammatory biomarkers.

Aditi Vyas, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow on her team, analyzed their gene expression profiles, before and after exercise, to help identify adverse molecular events that can be potentially reversed through exercise. The team recruited 50 sedentary, postmenopausal estrogen-receptor positive (ER+) breast cancer survivors, and randomized them into exercise and control groups. Participants in the exercise group were enrolled into an exercise intervention program (Curves®), which involved 30-minute circuit-centered exercises performed under trained supervision, three times a week, for 16 weeks. Participants’ body measurements were recorded and blood samples were taken for molecular analysis from all participants, before and after the study.

The results show that 7 of the 10 measured inflammatory markers that can cause health problems decreased in the exercise group compared to the control group. For example, on average, C-reactive protein (CRP) as well as Interleukin-6 were found to be 30 percent and 21 percent lower, respectively, in the post-intervention samples from the exercise group, when compared to the control group. Moreover, a greater number of women in the exercise group showed an overall decrease in pro-inflammatory markers such as IL-6, CRP and IL-8 when compared to the control group. For instance, 71 percent of the women who exercised had reduced levels of IL-8 after intervention when compared to 36 percent of women in the control group.

The gene expression profiling results for the exercise group showed 197 differentially expressed genes post-intervention when compared to the gene expression at the start of the study. Genes involved in inflammatory response such as IF127, CD177 and others were inhibited in response to the exercise intervention.

“In summary, our results indicate that moderate levels of exercise could potentially be useful in alleviating inflammation and stress-related biomarkers in breast cancer survivors,” Vyas said.

A citrus ingredient slows the growth of breast cancer cells
Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in women in the U.S. Unfortunately, only a few therapeutic strategies are effective in breast cancer treatment, and they are often toxic to healthy cell types. Therefore, there is a need to identify newer strategies that can supplement the existing ones. Studies have shown that phytochemicals, which are plant-derived bioactive components, have anticancer properties and exhibit minimal toxicity to healthy tissue.
Sharad S. Singhal, Ph.D., a professor in City of Hope’s Department of Medical Oncology & Therapeutics Research and Beckman Research Institute, and his team used 2'-Hydroxyflavanone (2HF), a constituent of citrus fruits, and breast cancer cell lines to conduct experiments in vitro. Initial studies demonstrated that 2HF effectively suppressed the growth of breast cancer cells, and researchers decided to investigate the anticancer effects of 2HF in animal models.

“The study showed that 2HF significantly slowed the growth of breast cancer cells by initiating cell death and at the same does not affect growth of normal cells,” Singhal said.

Next steps for the research include studying the molecular mechanisms that are involved in 2HF’s stopping breast cancer cells from multiplying, as well as combining 2HF with chemotherapeutic agents currently used for breast cancer treatment to measure their effectiveness.

“There is a critical need to identify potent compounds that can kill cancer cells and/or enhance the efficacy of chemotherapies,” Singhal said. “Therefore, the long-term goal of the lab is to develop clinically effective adjuvant for treatment of breast cancer.”
About City of Hope
City of Hope is an independent research and treatment center for cancer, diabetes and other life-threatening diseases. Designated as one of only 49 comprehensive cancer centers, the highest recognition bestowed by the National Cancer Institute, City of Hope is also a founding member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, with research and treatment protocols that advance care throughout the world. City of Hope's main campus is in Duarte, California, just northeast of Los Angeles, with additional locations throughout Southern California. It is ranked as one of "America's Best Hospitals" in cancer by U.S. News & World Report. Founded in 1913, City of Hope is a pioneer in the fields of bone marrow transplantation, diabetes and numerous breakthrough cancer drugs based on technology developed at the institution.
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