publication date: Jul. 31, 2020

In Brief

Winship receives $7.8 million for multiple myeloma research

Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University received $7.8 million from the Paula and Rodger Riney Foundation to fund the Riney Family Multiple Myeloma Research Program Fund. 

The two-year project will support fast-tracked research projects at Winship in multiple myeloma.

Rodger Riney, founder of the brokerage firm Scottrade Financial Services, was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2015.  Rodger and his wife Paula Riney have made substantial gifts to the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and to Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston to accelerate research into multiple myeloma and improve outcomes for patients.

Winship has played a role in the development, testing, and approval of multiple myeloma treatments in recent years, including several recently approved immunotherapy drugs. 

For the two-year funding period, Lonial and the Winship myeloma team have proposed projects in fundamental research in the underlying biology of multiple myeloma, translational research in the development of new treatments, and clinical research in understanding response rates and drug resistance, among other areas.

The Riney Family Multiple Myeloma Research Program Fund will engage faculty from all four Winship research programs: cancer immunology, cancer prevention and control, cell and molecular biology, and discovery and developmental therapeutics.

 

Jin, Wang receive $3.7 million from NCI to support research exploring link between cancer and HIV/AIDS

Ge Jin and Bingcheng Wang received a $3.7 million five-year grant to explore why those living with HIV have a higher risk for certain kinds of cancers, such as lung cancer.

Jin and Wang, co-principal investigators of the grant, are members of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Molecular Oncology Program. Jin is a professor at the School of Dental Medicine and Wang is the John A. and Josephine B. Wootton Endowed Chair of Research, professor at the School of Medicine, and a researcher at MetroHealth System.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates more than 1.7 million people are newly infected with HIV every year. These 1.7 million people are more likely to get cancer at an earlier age and at a higher frequency, Jin said.

“We want to look at the molecular events involved in these processes, and find out why,” Jin said in a statement. “We need to find a better way to detect cancer in these patients at an earlier stage.”

Jin and Wang found that the immune cells from HIV patients secrete exosomes and attack lung cells, thus promoting the growth of cancer.

Wang said he believes the grant from NCI will “further investigate this novel mechanism of lung cancer promotion by HIV and develop new therapeutic agents to treat the disease among people living with HIV.”

 

The Prostate Cancer Foundation and Robert F. Smith plan to address health disparities for African American men

The Prostate Cancer Foundation and Robert F. Smith, founder, chairman and CEO of Vista Equity Partners, plan to collaborate on research to reduce deaths from prostate cancer.

“As African American men are at an increased risk for being diagnosed or dying from prostate cancer, understanding their risk profile and applying this knowledge earlier with strategic detection, care, and decisions about cancer risk management is of utmost importance to address health inequity in the U.S.,” Smith said in a statement. “This is why I made a personal commitment to help accelerate research, encourage African American men to participate in the study and subsequent testing, and develop new detection strategies that have the power to transform how we diagnose and treat this disease and help save lives.”

The research Smith is supporting will lead to the development of the Smith Polygenic Risk Test for Prostate Cancer, a non-invasive, early detection test that will identify a man’s lifetime prostate cancer risk using a combination of more than 250 genetic variants obtained from a single sample of saliva or blood. The Smith Test is expected to cost less than $90 USD and will be made available in PCF’s dedicated Veterans Affairs network of Centers of Excellence, including the Robert Frederick Smith Center of Precision Oncology Excellence at the VA Chicago.

The test is part of a larger PCF research initiative to improve the understanding of genetic risk in African American men and transform early detection and imaging strategies, risk management, and clinical-decision making by men at highest lifetime risk of prostate cancer. The research, led by Chris Haiman, a genetic epidemiologist at the University of Southern California, and international colleagues, is aimed at accelerating the reduction of prostate cancer disparities for African American men by 2030.

Most genomic studies of prostate cancer have focused on men of European ancestry, and there is a need for additional resources to develop and optimize a polygenic risk score in those disproportionately affected. The new Smith-PCF initiative plans to increase the representation of African American men in the study and expand research to allow Haiman to quadruple the size of his study cohort, a step to providing access to the Smith Polygenic Risk Test as soon as possible.

African American men are 76% more likely to develop prostate cancer than Caucasian men, and are more than twice as likely to die from the disease compared to men of other ethnicities.

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