Virginia Commonwealth University

VCU Massey Cancer Center

VCU scientists develop computer models simulating stem cell transplant recovery

Scientists at Virginia Commonwealth University have developed computer models that can simulate the recovery of the immune system in patients undergoing stem cell transplants. In two recent studies, they reinforce the potential of using DNA sequencing and computer modeling to predict which stem cell transplant recipients might suffer complications such as graft-versus-host-disease, a condition where the donor’s immune system attacks the recipient’s body. The studies build upon prior research by scientists at VCU Massey Cancer Center, the VCU Center for the Study of Biological Complexity and VCU’s Department of Psychiatry and Statistical Genomics that found evidence that the immune system may be modeled as a dynamical system.  

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VCU scientists work to bring about a new treatment for rare childhood cancer

Neuroblastoma is a rare cancer that develops in very early forms of nerve cells in the embryo or fetus, and it accounts for the most pediatric deaths for any tumor outside of the brain. The most lethal form of this tumor is often associated with amplification of the gene MYCN, and now scientists at VCU Massey Cancer Center and the VCU Philips Institute for Oral Health Research may have developed a combination therapy that uses this gene to kill the cancer, instead of making it grow.

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First-of-its-kind head and neck cancer immunotherapy clinical trial opens at Massey

Erin Alesi

VCU Massey Cancer Center is recruiting participants for an international phase 2 clinical trial testing the first immune checkpoint inhibitors for head and neck cancer. Immune checkpoint inhibitors are drugs that cause the immune system to recognize and attack cancer cells, and they have shown dramatic results in treating certain types of skin and lung cancers.  

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A righteous purpose

“We have a righteous purpose,” says Richard “Rick” Moran, Ph.D., a preeminent scientist at VCU Massey Cancer Center. “I ask my research students to walk through the oncology clinic every day to refresh their memories as to why we are here. The patient is the very real endpoint for research.”

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Massey scientists uncover process that could drive the majority of cancers

The gene p53 has been described as the “guardian of the genome” due to its prominent role in preventing genetic mutations. More than half of all cancers are thought to originate from p53 mutations or loss of function, and now a recent study by VCU Massey Cancer Center scientist Richard Moran, Ph.D., explains why. 

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