Eight Examples of Where The Money Goes

Bill Alfano's picture
Bill Alfano

Eight Examples of Where The Money Goes

The Pan-Mass Challenge has helped fund cancer research and patient care at Dana-Farber including: 

1. Dr. Patrick Ott, clinical director of Dana-Farber’s Center for Immuno-Oncology, is working closely with Dr. George Demetri, director of the Center for Sarcoma and Bone Oncology, to develop a clinical trial to test the investigational immunotherapy drug MK-3475 for the treatment of leiomyosarcoma (LMS). The drug has already shown breakthrough activity against metastatic melanoma and ovarian, kidney, and lung cancers. 

2. Dana-Farber scientists have discovered a genetic mutation, called RNF43, in approximately 20 percent of colorectal and endometrial cancers. Investigators from Dana-Farber and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard suggest that having a mutation in RNF43 may serve as a biological marker that helps to identify which patients with colorectal and endometrial cancer could benefit most from precision cancer drugs that target an associated pathway. 

3. When detected at an early stage, ovarian cancer has a five-year survival rate of approximately 90 percent, yet only about 15 percent of ovarian cancers are found at this stage. Under the leadership of Dr. Ursula Matulonis, medical director of the Gynecologic Oncology Program in Dana-Farber’s Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers, Dana-Farber scientists are creating new approaches to screen for ovarian cancer aimed at earlier detection. One promising approach includes identifying biological markers found in blood samples that are specific to ovarian cancer. 

4. Drs. Kimberly Stegmaier and James Bradner led research demonstrating that pediatric neuroblastoma is highly sensitive to a class of compounds called BET bromodomain inhibitors. Building on this work, the study team is examining the potential clinical applications for these inhibitors, focused on advancing treatment strategies for children with neuroblastoma.  

5. In April 2014, Dr. Jennifer Ligibel, director of Dana-Farber’s Leonard P. Zakim Center for Integrative Therapies, and her colleagues launched the Healthy Living Program, a joint effort with Dana-Farber’s Adult Survivorship Program. The program promotes behavioral changes around exercise, good nutrition, and maintaining a normal weight, leveraging results from Dana-Farber studies that suggest making these changes can reduce the risk of cancer recurrence..

6. Project REACH, which stands for Research Evaluating After-Cancer Health, is an ongoing research effort led by Dana-Farber investigators. The project includes participation from more than 800 survivors and is providing a foundation for discovery on areas such as secondary skin cancer and bone health among survivors.

7. One part of immunotherapy, an exciting area of cancer research, focuses on treatments that target the interaction of the PD-1and PD-L1 proteins. This interaction shuts down the disease-fighting ability of cells. Building on research by Dana-Farber scientists, Lowe Center for Thoracic Oncology researchers are investigating inhibitors that precisely target this interaction for the treatment of lung cancers

8. In June 2014, Dr. Pasi Jänne, director of the Lowe Center for Thoracic Oncology and co-scientific director of the Belfer Institute for Applied Cancer Science, presented results from a clinical trial of an investigational targeted drug at the American Society for Clinical Oncology annual meeting. Results from the trial showed a positive response in half of patients with non-small cell lung cancer whose disease no longer responded to conventional therapy. This drug has also received fast track status from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration with the prospect that it will be approved as early as 2015.


Dr. James Bradner at #PMC2014 Opening Ceremonies addressing, Where The Money Goes. Read more from Dr. Bradner on pages 18 & 19 in the 2014 PMC Yearbook.

Blog content courtesy of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.