IRP Research Shows Benefits of More Intensive Treatments for Certain Patients
Wednesday, September 28, 2022
Fate can be cruel, especially when it comes to a rare, highly fatal blood cancer called acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Even when months of intensive chemotherapy appear to cause a complete remission of the disease — meaning doctors cannot detect any remaining cancer cells in a patient’s body — roughly half of those patients see the cancer return within two years, or even as soon as six months. Sadly, most of them don’t survive their second bout with the disease.
As a medical student, IRP senior investigator Christopher Hourigan, M.D., D.Phil., thought this outcome was unfair. More than that, he thought it indicated that the standard ways doctors determined if an AML patient was in remission were inadequate, and that remission might not even be the right goal. That’s why he has focused his career on finding ways to detect, prevent, and treat AML recurrence, known in his field as ‘relapse’.
“I was a scientist before I became a doctor, and it was really eye-opening to me, when I started to practice medicine, how difficult some of the treatment decisions were and how limited the information available was to inform those decisions,” Dr. Hourigan says.
NIH Researcher Recognized for Investigation into Genomic Stability
Monday, June 29, 2020
The National Academy of Medicine (NAM), first established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences as the Institute of Medicine (IOM), is comprised of more than 2,000 elected members from around the world who provide scientific and policy guidance on important matters relating to human health. Election to the NAM is considered one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine and recognizes individuals who have not only made critical scientific discoveries but have also demonstrated a laudable commitment to public service.
IRP senior investigator Andre Nussenzweig, Ph.D., was one of four IRP researchers recently elected to the NAM. Dr. Nussenzweig leads the Laboratory of Genome Integrity at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), where he studies how cells repair a form of DNA damage called a double strand break (DSB). This type of insult, which severs both strands of the double-stranded DNA molecule, is one of the most dangerous. If not repaired properly, DSBs can kill cells or cause DNA to rearrange in ways that are associated with cancer. Moreover, while DSBs can be caused by chemotherapy drugs and radiation, they can also happen by random chance during the course of normal cellular processes. Intriguingly, not all parts of the DNA molecule are equally susceptible to this form of damage.
Mouse Study Suggests Approach to Protect Cancer Patients’ Hearing
Tuesday, March 24, 2020
The internet is filled with lists of ‘life hacks’ that provide instructions on how to re-purpose common items, from turning glass jars into flower vases to using sticky notes to remove dust or crumbs from the crevices of a computer keyboard. On occasion, this kind of inventive spirit can be used to improve human health as well. IRP researchers have found evidence in mice that a statin medication originally created to lower cholesterol might also reduce hearing loss caused by a common cancer therapy.
Reddit “Ask Me Anything” Commemorates Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Friday, October 11, 2019
Breast cancer touches the lives of millions of Americans every year. In 2019 alone, researchers expect more than 300,000 American women to be diagnosed with breast cancer, along with more than 2,600 men. Roughly one out of every eight American women will develop invasive breast cancer at some point in her lifetime, making it the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in American women.
On October 9, in recognition of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the NIH Intramural Research Program (IRP) partnered with the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to host a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) with two prominent researchers in the NCI's Women's Malignancies Branch: Stanley Lipkowitz, M.D., Ph.D., and Alexandra Zimmer, M.D. Between Dr. Lipkowitz’s extensive knowledge of the cellular and molecular pathways involved in breast cancer and Dr. Zimmer’s expertise in the development of clinical trials for breast cancer treatments, the pair were able to offer intriguing insights on topics ranging from recent advances in breast cancer treatment to genetic and environmental factors that influence risk for the disease. Read on for some of the most interesting exchanges that took place, or check out the full AMA on Reddit.
NIH Investigator Recognized for Insights into Drug Resistance in Cancer
Tuesday, October 8, 2019
The National Academy of Sciences, a private society established in 1863, is made up of the United States’ most distinguished scientific scholars, including nearly 500 members who have won Nobel Prizes. Members of the NAS are elected by their peers and charged with the responsibility of providing independent, objective advice on national matters related to science and technology in an effort to further scientific innovation in the U.S.
IRP Senior Investigator Michael Gottesman, M.D., is one of four IRP researchers who were elected to the Academy over the past two years. At the NIH, Dr. Gottesman plays two very different but equally important roles, serving as Deputy Director for Intramural Research while also leading the Laboratory of Cell Biology at the National Cancer Institute (NCI).
New System Could Boost Treatment Effectiveness and Curb Side Effects
Tuesday, April 2, 2019
Cancer kills more than half a million men, women, and children each year in the U.S, and chemotherapy is only slightly more discriminating than the disease it treats. As a result, many cancer treatments kill cells throughout the body and cause severe side effects. New IRP research could solve this problem by creating a way to release those toxic compounds only when and where doctors desire.
Tuesday, August 28, 2018
Much of the time, new therapies are built from the ground up, with researchers closely scrutinizing a specific molecule or cellular process and designing compounds that can influence it. In some cases, however, scientists take the opposite approach, throwing a multitude of therapeutic darts at the disease dartboard to see what sticks, and then working backwards to unravel why a drug was effective. IRP researchers recently used this method to identify potential treatments for drug-resistant ovarian cancer and determine how some of those tumors become impervious to a particular chemotherapy.
Monday, May 21, 2018
James F. Holland, M.D., a renowned cancer expert who was a major figure in the development of cancer chemotherapy, died on March 22, 2018, at the age of 92. Dr. Holland was among the first group of research physicians recruited to the NIH Clinical Center, serving as a senior surgeon at the National Cancer Institute from 1953 to 1954. In that short year at the NIH, he initiated a clinical trial to compare continuous or intermittent treatment with two chemotherapy agents for acute leukemia in children: methotrexate and 6-mercaptopurine. Dr. Holland moved to Roswell Park Memorial Institute in Buffalo before the trial was completed, but he continued to collaborate. His work ultimately turned an incurable illness into one with an 80% survival rate. In 1972, he and his NIH collaborators shared the Albert Lasker Clinical Medical Research Award for "outstanding contribution to the concept and application of combination therapy in the treatment of acute leukemia in children."
Monday, June 20, 2016
Terran Dupree, 16, is one of the most positive teenagers you will ever meet. With the brightest smile and the most humbling personality, you would never know that she is fighting a rare form of cancer.
Monday, September 28, 2015
As this LabTV profile of an outstanding nurse-scientist shows, there are many different paths to a career in biomedical research. Leorey Saligan grew up in the Philippines, where the challenges and rewards of caring for sick family members inspired him to become a nurse. His first job was at a nursing home in Midland, TX, and the next at a nearby hospital. Later, Saligan moved to Norfolk, VA, where as a nurse practitioner he began caring for people with sarcoidosis, an inflammatory disease that affects several organ systems.