Posts tagged ‘cancer research’
The fight against breast cancer is real—that’s why more than 600 Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center faculty, staff, patients, survivors and the Nittany Lion donned pink gloves and broke out their best dance moves to show that no one should fight this disease alone.
Voting is now open for the national Pink Glove Dance Video contest, and Penn State Hershey is in the running to win a $10,000 donation to the Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition.
We were inspired by not only our patients, but also each other: Dan, a human resources professional who danced for his wife, a 10-year survivor; Maggie, a critical-care nurse celebrating 12 years of survivorship; and more. Backed by a breast center team that ranks nationally in patient satisfaction; Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute multidisciplinary cancer teams including specialists, nurses, and support staff; and research that has led to promising new discoveries, our commitment to fighting breast cancer goes well beyond the gloves.
Together, we give hope, courage, and faith—and continue to fight for a cure.
Penn State Hershey is currently in second place out of more than 260 entries. Your vote could push us to the top! Every vote counts until November 2. Use your Facbook account to vote for Penn State Hershey’s video at http://pinkglovedance.com . Click on the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, click the Vote button, and then use the link provided to share with all of your Facebook friends. Please encourage them to share it with their friends, too.
Imagine if various types of cancer were caused by a common, though currently unknown, virus. The implications for treatment options and methods of prevention could be enormous. The discovery of infectious agents, such as the human papillomavirus as the root cause of cervical cancer, opens the door to the idea that other viruses might be at work in the genesis of cancer development.
This theory is about to be tested further by Thomas P. Loughran, M.D., and his colleagues at Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute. But Loughran is no stranger to being at the forefront of cancer research.
The LGL discovery
As outlined in this previous Penn State Medicine article, Loughran, who is a professor of medicine at Penn State College of Medicine and director of the Cancer Institute, is responsible for the discovery of large granular lymphocyte (LGL) leukemia while he was an oncology fellow at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Washington. He has spent most of his career researching the development of the disease and establishing a treatment protocol, which has allowed many patients to live healthier and more productive lives. In 2003, he started an LGL leukemia registry to keep track of patient outcomes.
One of the most challenging aspects of LGL leukemia is getting an accurate diagnosis. Patients often present with chronic symptoms, such as joint pain, fevers, and immune system problems that can be misdiagnosed as rheumatoid arthritis (RA) or aplastic anemia.
“The diagnosis is clouded by the fact that the symptoms are not obvious,” Loughran says. “Patients can have morbidity with tiredness, shortness of breath, pain, and swelling of the joints. Ten to 30 percent have classic RA. This is a chronic disease, though, with a major complication being infections.”
A diagnosis of LGL leukemia is not difficult to come by if medical professionals know what to look for, which is an increased number of LGL cells that can be seen on a blood smear. But because this can easily be overlooked in basic blood tests, it often takes a recurrence of symptoms before an accurate diagnosis of LGL leukemia is reached. (more…)
Researchers at Penn State College of Medicine are actively working in Hershey, with colleagues at Penn State, University Park and other Penn State campuses, and with colleagues at various institutions across the country to conduct groundbreaking research. Their discoveries continue to contribute to the advancement of health care on all levels.
Adult stem cells from mice converted to antigen-specific T cells—the immune cells that fight cancer tumor cells— show promise in cancer immunotherapy and may lead to a simpler, more efficient way to use the body’s immune system to fight cancer, according to College of Medicine researchers. Jianxsun Song, Ph.D., assistant professor of microbiology and immunology said, “Tumors grow in part because patients lack the kind of antigen-specific T cells needed to kill the cancer. An approach called adoptive T cell immunotherapy generates the T cells outside the body, which are then used inside the body to target cancer cells.” It is complex and expensive to expand T cell lines in the lab, so researchers have been searching for ways to simplify the process. Song and his team found a way to use induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, adult cells that are genetically changed to be stem cells.
By inserting DNA, researchers change the mouse iPS cells into immune cells and inject them into mice with tumors. After 50 days, 100 percent of the mice in the study were still alive, compared to 55 percent of control mice, which received tumor-reactive immune cells isolated from donors. Researchers reported their results and were featured as the cover story in a recent issue of the journal Cancer Research. Researchers are now studying how to use the process in human cells.
This study was funded through the Pennsylvania Department of Health using Tobacco Settlement Funds, the W.W. Smith Charitable Trust, and the Melanoma Research Foundation.
It all started with a call to arms—conquer childhood cancer—that hasn’t changed for forty years. When the Four Diamonds Fund first appeared in 1972, there was little chance for a cure and treatment choices were limited. Since its inception, however, Four Diamonds has provided more than 3,200 children and their families touched by cancer the means to fight back.
From Despair to Hope
The vision for the Four Diamonds Fund began during the darkest days of Charles and Irma Millard’s life. In 1970, the couple was visiting Children’s Hospital Boston with their beloved 12-year-old son, Chris, who was being treated for rhabdomyosarcoma of the nasopharynx. There, the Millards discovered the Jimmy Fund, a program that covered all out-of-pocket medical costs for children receiving therapy for cancer at the hospital. “That’s where we came up with the idea to start a fund that would benefit families in central Pennsylvania,” Charles Millard says. “In 1972, on the day Chris died at Penn State Hershey Medical Center, we initiated the Fund.”
For the couple, then living in Elizabethtown, their main goal was to relieve the financial burden that other young families may face during their battle with cancer, while providing support for the best medical care available. “In the first five years, it was slow moving, but we continued to do fundraisers,” Millard says. “We felt really thankful that we had the opportunity to take this negative experience in our lives—the loss of our son—and turn it into something so positive.”
A Place of Healing and Caring
The mission of the Four Diamonds Fund is to conquer childhood cancer by assisting children treated at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital and their families by funding superior care, comprehensive support, and pediatric cancer research.
Over the years, the organization has expanded its ability to take care of these desperately ill children. Today, a world-class team of professionals provide comprehensive medical care—including pediatric oncologists, nurse specialists, social workers and child life specialists. Some 100 new patient families benefit from Four Diamonds each year. That support includes getting the cost of all uncovered medical bills paid.
“Drawing on these resources, we are able to provide a level of cancer care, second to none,” says A. Craig Hillemeier, M.D., chair, Department of Pediatrics, at the Children’s Hospital. “If you are treating a child with cancer, you are really treating the whole family, and because of the Four Diamonds Fund, we are able to give a much more complete response to the terrible reality that the child and family experience.”
Below is an excerpt from the April 2012 edition of Perspectives, a monthly electronic newsletter from Harold L. Paz, M.D., chief executive officer, Penn State Hershey Medical Center, senior vice president for health affairs, Penn State, and dean, Penn State College of Medicine.
Conducting research is one of the key missions of any academic health center, and it’s a fundamental characteristic that distinguishes institutions like Penn State Hershey from other hospitals in the community. But biomedical research is expensive, and increasingly, researchers are having difficulty getting even the most excellent proposals funded. This challenge has become especially acute since the economic downturn in 2008. Government support for research is being cut back not only at the federal level, but also by many states, including Pennsylvania. In addition, many private sources of support for research – including philanthropic foundations and non-profit organizations – have reduced the amount of funding available, in response to the reduced value of their endowments or diminished philanthropic support these organizations rely on.
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The 2011 proceeds from THON—the Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon—once again topped a previous record and raised a staggering $9.56 million to benefit The Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital. The 46-hour event that ran from Friday evening through Sunday afternoon is the culmination of a yearlong fundraising effort by thousands of Penn State students at campuses across the state.
Some other THON numbers that are equally as impressive as the final tally:
- 708 students were selected as dancers.
- 11 bands provided entertainment to help sustain the dancers’ energy throughout the weekend.
- 240 families supported by The Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital participated in THON weekend.
- 10,409 THON donation cans were distributed throughout the year.
Here is a sampling of photos from the weekend event that helps Children’s Hospital faculty and staff meet their daily mission of providing top-notch, comprehensive care to children and their families and finding tomorrow’s cures for pediatric cancers.
Slide show photos were contributed by faculty, staff, students, Penn State friends, and Four Diamonds families, including: Michael Verderame, Andrea Horne, Savannah Smith, Jackie Miller, Judy Hoch, Conrad Gast, Jeffrey Drexel, Celeste Negley, Cheryl Kretz, Lauren Lubus, Beth Garrigan, Matt, Steph, and Lindsay Smith, Shayne Beecher, Debbie Eslinger, Darik Kirschman, Tammy Cope, Rachel Pantalone, Sharon Otstott, Kim Keim, Cunningham, The Bush family, Steph Beyer, Connie Strayer, Chrissy Derr, Anne Morrow, Laura Trimble and Kathy Setlock.
Additional photos from throughout the weekend are available at http://live.psu.edu. For photos from Friday, visit http://live.psu.edu/stilllife/2431; from Saturday, visit http://live.psu.edu/stilllife/2433 and from Sunday visit http://live.psu.edu/stilllife/2434. Collected photos from throughout the weekend can be found at http://live.psu.edu/stilllife/2432.
By the time lung cancer is diagnosed, it’s often too far along to cure. Right now, lung cancer kills more Americans than any other kind of cancer. Still, David Mu, Ph.D., an associate professor of pathology in the Departments of Pathology, Biochemistry, and Molecular Biology, believes that a strong collaboration among basic scientists, clinical researchers, and treating clinicians is the key to stopping this complex disease in its tracks.
Since his arrival at Penn State College of Medicine two years ago, Mu’s laboratory work has focused on the actions of three mutated genes—TTF1, NKX2.8 and PAX9—and how they promote the development of lung tumors. In recent years, Mu, who previously worked in the biotechnology industry, linked these three genes to lung cancer.
What’s become clear since then, he says, is that mapping out the chain of events by which they are activated could help yield new drug combinations far more potent than therapies that take a more generic approach. (more…)
To really appreciate this story, we have to start at the end—simply put, there are people alive today because of a discovery made by an oncology fellow in the mid 1980s. And not just alive-these people are doing well, living healthy and full lives, sometimes symptom-free, because one doctor, Thomas P. Loughran Jr., M.D., professor of medicine and director, Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute, noticed something that no one else did.
“He’s a super doctor,” says George Graham of Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania, one of Loughran’s patients who was unable to find appropriate treatment for large granular lymphocyte (LGL) leukemia at other facilities.
Loughran came to discovering LGL through what might be considered standard detective work—he reviewed patient labs and blood smears and kept looking. During a rotation at the University of Washington, Loughran saw a patient who was referred to the chief resident with an unknown illness and a history of recurrent fevers and infections. Upon reviewing the patient’s blood smear, Loughran was the first to notice that the patient’s white cells were granular lymphocytes that were larger than they should be. After reviewing the previous five years of records of the hematopathology laboratory directed by Marshall Kadin, M.D., he realized that other patients with similar histories also had the unusual white cell appearance. Loughran and Kadin went on to publish their discovery and subsequent research in the Annals of Internal Medicine. (more…)
Bioanalyzer 2100. Nanodrop ND1000. BeadXpress. SpectraMax 2. Denator Stabilizor.
No, these aren’t weapons from an episode of Star Trek–they’re a sampling of the sophisticated equipment in the Functional Genomics Core Facility at Penn State College of Medicine.
Under Assistant Professor of Pharmacology and Director Willard Freeman, Ph.D., the facility has become one of the nation’s leading resources for the study of molecular biology. The facility’s mission is to better understand disease mechanisms and enable diagnosis at earlier and more preventable stages. The facility itself is a prime example of how medicine has evolved from a “treat and wait” approach towards personalized medicine. While most of the nation’s leading educational medical centers have similar facilities, Penn State’s facility has developed a reputation for being at the forefront of exploration into this relatively uncharted medical landscape.