Archive by category | American Association for Cancer Research

AACR 2010: Cancer genomes keep coming

Cancer genomes have been a hot topic at this year’s AACR. I stopped in to see a session hosted by Elaine Mardis, Washington University’s genome maven whose been an author on most of the big cancer genome papers to date. In the session, we heard from Todd Golub of the Broad Institute, who gave preliminary results on the multiple myeloma genome, which hasn’t yet been published.  Read more

AACR 2010: The Thermos approach to cancer biology

More research presented today at AACR’s 101st annual meeting shed some light on the mind blowing complexity of cancer. At this morning’s plenary sessions, Alan Balmain of the University of California San Francisco showed how the simple model of cancer initiation leading to progression and metastasis was a vast oversimplification. Cancer cells, he says require help from otherwise normal stromal cells, blood vessels, and inflammatory cells. And while much of the research presented at this meeting has been about cataloguing mutations that are gained in cancer, he’s been trying to better understand the underlying genetic background that plays a role in intrinsic susceptibility to cancers.  Read more

AACR 2010: Cancer gives no simple answers

Arul Chinnaiyan kicked off the day for AACR’s 101st annual meeting in DC by talking about cancer genomes. He gave a roundup of some of the major genomes published to date, many of them in Nature. He even showed a brilliant screenshot of Heidi Ledford’s April 15 feature on the topic. Bert Vogelstein of Johns Hopkins followed up with a talk that seemed too good to be true, asserting that thanks to decades of research, cancer is essentially a known entity. He’s been comparing the genomic landscape of nearly 100 human cancer genomes that have been sequenced to date and other data to come up with 3142 genes that are mutated regularly.  Read more

AACR 2010: The BATTLE wages on

Today there was a lot of buzz surrounding the release of results from the BATTLE trial (Biomarker-integrated Approaches of Targeted Therapy for Lung cancer Elimination), sponsored by the US Department of Defense. This trial, started in 2006 attempted to group patients by predominant biologic features of their cancer, including those that can be characterized by genetic changes in EGFR, KRas, RXR/CyclinD1 or VEGF (all predominant defining molecular signatures lung cancer) and see if they could match these patients with the optimal treatments choosing from four treatment regimens.  Read more

AACR 2010: The opener

The opening ceremonies of AACR started with a sombre set by the Howard University Choir, and then launched into a ear splitting techno-infused video called “It’s Our Time” flashing some stats about cancer that for researchers are both uplifting (today the survival rate for acute lymphoblastic leukemia is 85% compared to 4% in the 1960s) and challenging (85% of adults with cancer are interested in clinical trials but only 3%-4% participate).  Read more

AACR 2010: Volcanic ash permitting

I’m heading down to Washington D.C. this evening for my first American Association for Cancer Research meeting. It could have been my second. I was supposed to go to Toronto in 2003, but an outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in the city forced organizers to reschedule. I’m starting to wonder if I’m bad luck for this meeting.  Read more

AACR: Seeds, soils, and rapid autopsies

In 1889 Stephen Paget came up with the ‘seed to soil’ theory to explain why some cancers seem to spread to specific organs, rather than just invading the body at random. He said that perhaps there were features of the soil (the organ) that determined whether the seed (the cancer) took root there. Some soils simply aren’t hospitable to some seeds (having gardened in the heavy red clay of North Carolina, I can attest to that…)  … Read more