It’s World Cancer Day! Pass on the latest facts and help get people talking. It’s time to welcome a new era of discovery.
Research is inching us closer to cures for blood cancer every day – among them, therapies that unleash the immune system, reprogramming of T-cells to track down cancer cells, and personalized treatments based on a patient’s genetic make-up.
Survival rates for patients with many blood cancers have doubled, tripled and even quadrupled since the early 1960s. Cures for many patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and Hodgkin lymphoma have been achieved, and the five-year survival rate for children with ALL climbed from 3 percent to approximately 90 percent. The survival rate for myeloma patients more than tripled in the past decade.
Yet about one third of patients with a blood cancer still do not survive five years after their diagnosis. And unlike many other diseases, there are no means of preventing or screening for blood cancers.
Roland Walter, M.D., Ph.D., a hematologist and clinical researcher at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, has received an LLS Translational Research Program Award for $600,000 over the next three years to support his work developing new antibody-based treatments for acute leukemia, a disease that is often fatal despite aggressive therapies. He previously received a Career Development Grant to study the effects of another newly developed agent on AML cells.
In the simplest of terms, what is your research project about?
Our research aims to improve so called bispecific antibodies. These are a particular class of antibodies that, in their typical format, recognize both leukemia cells as well as some of the patient’s immune cells. That way, the bispecific antibody brings the immune cell in very close proximity to the leukemia cell. This tight connection ultimately leads to an activation and multiplication of the immune cells, which can then kill the leukemia cells. The mechanism by which this happens is very different from the mechanisms by which standard chemotherapy drugs kill leukemia cells. Hence, bispecific antibodies can be effective even in patients who have failed the typical chemotherapy drugs. Currently available bispecific antibodies have shown quite remarkable activity in cancers such as acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).
Very recently, the first trials using bispecific antibodies for acute myeloid leukemia (AML) have been initiated. Based on the data we have from other cancers, we know that currently available bispecific antibody formats do not work in everybody and are challenging to give. Because they are quickly eliminated by the kidneys, they have to be given by continuous infusion over a very long period of time. Our goal is to improve on these existing bispecific antibodies by developing novel ones that will work for a broader subset of patients and will be simpler to give.
A dietition/nutritionist talks about staying one step ahead of malnutrition and unhealthy weight loss
In the New Year, you may be looking to turn over a new leaf. One goal may be to improve your nutrition. Many cancer survivors struggle with food issues. In fact, research shows that up to 80 percent of people with a cancer diagnosis are expected to experience malnutrition at some point during treatment. Even before a diagnosis, as many as 40 percent of people with cancer experience unhealthy weight loss. Unhealthy weight loss can lead to decreased response to treatment, delays in treatment, and reduced quality of life.
You can avoid these nutrition problems! Use new eating strategies to improve your health and wellbeing during cancer treatment. Start today by improving your nutrition IQ.
Here are seven food and cancer facts that you may not know:
1) You can’t get all the nutrition your body needs from juicing. This surprises many people because of the recent popularity of juicing. Juicing is low in protein. Cancer survivors may need extra dietary protein during treatment to combat muscle loss. Pump up your juices by adding a scoop of protein powder, 4-8 ounces of Greek yogurt, or egg white powder to your glass. Always remember, juicing is a great way to add fruits or vegetables to your diet, but should not be used to try to meet all of your nutrition needs.