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Researchers look to mathematics, nature, to understand the immune system and its role in cancer

Can the patterns in tree branches or the meandering bends in a river provide clues that could lead to better cancer therapies? According to a new study from Virginia Commonwealth University Massey Cancer Center, these self-similar, repeating patterns in nature known as fractals help scientists better understand how the immune system is organized and may one day be used to help improve stem cell transplant outcomes in leukemia patients by predicting the probability of transplant complications.

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Paul Fisher

New combination therapy eradicates prostate cancer in vivo

In their study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, prostate cancer growth in mice with functioning immune systems was inhibited by sensitizing the cancer cells with the drug Sabutoclax (BI-97C1) and using UTMD technology to deliver a viral gene therapy that expresses the genemda-7/IL-24. This powerful new approach to treating prostate cancer builds upon prior studies by principle investigator Paul B. Fisher, M.P.H., Ph.D., Thelma Newmeyer Corman Endowed Chair in Oncology Research at VCU Massey (photo on left). Fisher is professor and chair of the Department of Human and Molecular Genetics in the VCU School of Medicine, and director of the VCU Institute of Molecular Medicine.

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Paul Dent lab horizontal

Drug combination therapy causes cancer cells to “eat themselves”

Results from a recent preclinical study led by Paul Dent, Ph.D., have shown that a new drug combination therapy being developed at Virginia Commonwealth University Massey Cancer Center effectively killed colon, liver, lung, kidney, breast and brain cancer cells while having little effect on noncancerous cells. The results lay the foundation for researchers to plan a future phase 1 clinical trial to test the safety of the therapy in a small group of patients.

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Massey researcher awarded over $5 million to investigate pediatric obesity and cancer-related co-morbidities

VCU Massey Cancer Center researcher Melanie Bean, Ph.D., L.C.P., was awarded over $5 million in grant funding by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study factors that may impact pediatric obesity and cancer-related co-morbidities among traditionally underserved populations.

 

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Translational research: from bench to bedside

Massey’s science-driven translational research – moving scientific discoveries from the laboratory into real-world patient applications – is one of the many reasons the National Cancer Institute recently awarded Massey a five-year renewal as one of only two NCI-designated Cancer Centers in Virginia. Often described as “bench-to-bedside” research, translational research involves several stages, including clinical trials, where consenting patients are given drugs, surgical procedures, devices or other interventions to treat cancer and are then closely monitored to determine side effects, effectiveness and other key findings. 

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