CROET Researchers Attend Knight Cancer Institute Retreat

Researchers from the Lloyd & McCullough Lab

One prominent area of research in CROET explores how cancers arise and how we can effectively treat them.  Since environmental and occupational factors can influence the timing of the onset and progression of cancers, our team has joined other investigators at OHSU as members of the Knight Cancer Institute. Together, we collaborate to study cancer, in which the scope of these investigations range from basic mechanistic research to cutting edge clinical therapies.

The Knight Scientific Retreat, held on November 9th 2012, gave us the opportunity to see what our colleagues were doing. Dr. Brian Druker, Director of the Institute and a developer of the molecular targeted therapy for chronic myeloid leukemia, Gleevec, opened the retreat by sharing how teamwork between the basic science and the clinical research groups has contributed to the Institute’s recent successful grant renewal.

The following synopses highlight some of the scientific presentations that we found interesting.

Dr. Melissa Wong, of the Oregon Stem Cell Center, shared her group’s research on fusing bone marrow-derived macrophages with cancer cells to promote metastasis. The hybrid cancer cells expressed gene profiles different than the parent cells, and promoted tumors in mice. This suggests that cell fusion may create a way for tumors to better adapt to changing environments.

Dr. Daniel Marks, a pediatrician and researcher at the Pape Pediatric Research Institute, shared insights on the molecular mechanism triggering cachexia (disease-associated wasting) and how to treat it, in efforts to both prolong and enhance the quality of life for cancer patients.

Dr. Matthew Taylor gave an overview of phase I clinical trials at the Knight Cancer Institute. With the development of personalized medicine, targeted therapies that can be tailored to tumor profiles are the main focus of these trials. Based on trial results, we can return to the lab to better understand cancer biology and how to improve treatment efficacy.

The keynote talk by Dr. Patricia Ganz addressed the effects of inflammation in post-treatment breast cancer patients. According to Dr. Ganz, the most common post-treatment complaint from breast cancer survivors is persistent fatigue. Her group has found that those patients with chronic fatigue after chemotherapy have persistent low-level inflammation, perhaps coming from responses to psychological stress. Dr. Ganz’s studies suggest that a holistic approach of stress management, along with specific targeted immune-modulating pharmaceuticals may be effective in reducing both fatigue and cancer recurrence.

This was a great opportunity to learn about various basic and translational research done at our Knight Cancer Institute at OHSU. We felt it was a very rewarding experience to participate in this event. Learn more about our lab at CROET!

Submitted by: Researchers from CROET’s Lloyd-McCullough Lab