May 25

Scientists Block Breast Cancer Cells From Hiding in Bones

PrintScientists at the Duke Cancer Institute have identified a molecular key that breast cancer cells use to invade bone marrow in mice, where they may be protected from chemotherapy or hormonal therapies that could otherwise eradicate them.

Through years of experiments in mice, the scientists have found ways to outmaneuver this stealth tactic by not only preventing breast cancer cells from entering the bone marrow, but also by flushing cancer cells out into the blood stream where they could be targeted for destruction.

The findings provide insight into one of the most devastating tendencies of some breast cancers — the ability to return after seemingly being vanquished. The researchers hope the findings, if replicated in additional animal and human tests, could eventually lead to new therapies for treating breast cancer.

“Clinical studies have found that breast cancer can be caught early and treated, and patients can have no signs of disease,” said Dorothy A. Sipkins, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor in the division of hematological malignancies and cellular therapy at Duke. “And then five, 10 or even 15 years later, a patient can relapse. Most often, the site of the metastasized cancer is in the bone.”

In an article published online May 25 in Science Translational Medicine, the researchers describe how cells from breast cancers that are hormone receptor-positive roam through the blood and tissues of mice. They’re hunting for specific blood vessels in bone marrow that contain the molecule E-selectin. With a key — molecules on their surface that bind to E-selectin — the cancer cells enter the spongy tissue inside bones, often lying dormant for years. Read the rest of this entry »

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May 20

Kauff Appointed Director Of Clinical Cancer Genetics

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center Physicians Reference Guide portraits

Noah D. Kauff, MD

Noah D. Kauff, MD, recently joined Duke University Health System and Duke University School of Medicine as the director of Clinical Cancer Genetics for the Duke Cancer Institute. In his newly appointed position, Kauff will provide leadership, strategy and oversight for Clinical Cancer Genetics and the Hereditary Cancer Clinic, which opened in 1999 to offer risk assessment and education to patients with cancer and people with a family history of cancer or other risk factors. Kauff will be responsible for articulating a vision of programmatic excellence for Clinical Cancer Genetics for the Duke Cancer Institute. He will identify the short and long-term objectives required to move the program, which incorporates clinical care, research and education, toward this vision.

Previously, Kauff was director of Ovarian Cancer Screening and Prevention Program in the Gynecology Service, Department of Surgery at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC). He was an attending physician for the MSKCC Clinical Genetic Service where his practice encompassed all aspects of cancer risk assessment, genetic counseling and genetic testing for individuals and families at inherited risk for cancer.

Kauff received his medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia. He completed his residency at New York Medical College and his Fellowship at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center/New York Presbyterian Hospital.

Kauff’s research interests, among others, include the role of genetic counseling on the evaluation and management of women with an inherited predisposition to cancer. His clinical focus includes cancer risk counseling, screening for and prevention of inherited cancers and the gynecologic care of patients with cancer. Kauff is the principal investigator in studies evaluating the efficacy of risk-reducing salpingo-oophorectomy (RRSO) for the prevention of breast and gynecologic cancer in women with BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations. His work includes the teaching of fellows, residents and students.

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May 19

May Newsmakers

Shawn Rocco/Duke Health

Shawn Rocco, Duke Health News





Promising brain cancer trial given breakthrough status by FDA (CBS)
Features Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center

Hurrah for our medical researchers!
(The Moultrie Observer)
Features Duke University.

Poliovirus therapy against cancer given ‘breakthrough’ status by FDA (Breibart)
Features Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center.

Tackling the financial toll of cancer, one patient at a time (The Washington Post)
Features Yousuf Zafar, MD.

Poliovirus therapy against cancer given ‘breakthrough’ status by FDA (UPI)

Researchers develop human-derived antibody that appears to destroy cancer cells (FOX News)
Features Edward F. Patz, MD.

Breakthrough Status (KXLF Channel 4 CBS News)
Features Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center. Read the rest of this entry »

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May 19

Team Renacer To Host Bake Sale To Benefit Komen Race For The Cure

Team Renacer LR
























Led by DCI patient navigator Xiomara Boyce, team Renacer will host a bake sale on May 26 to benefit the June 11 Komen Triangle Race for The Cure. The bake sale will take place from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Hock Plaza on Erwin Road. The sale will feature Latin-inspired pastries.

Originally from the Dominican Republic, Boyce moved to the United States when she was 14 years old. She began instructing part-time at Duke about 22 years ago. Boyce, who has been affiliated full-time for 12 years, is a two-time breast cancer survivor.

The 20th Annual Komen Triangle Race For The Cure will be held on Saturday, June 11, at The Frontier at Research Triangle Park (RTP). Activities include the Belk Survivors Tailgate, a Food Truck Rodeo, Beer Garden and more. Team Renacer is one of several teams under the umbrella of Team Duke Cancer Institute. To join team Renacer or to donate, visit Team Renacer.

NOTE: Participants registering on May 20 will receive a 20th anniversary discount of $5 off a recreational registration. Please use code: 20RACE.

Team Renacer Bake Sale Flyer

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May 16

Duke’s Poliovirus Therapy Wins “Breakthrough” Status to Expedite Research


Matthias Gromeier, MD

The recombinant poliovirus therapy developed at the Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center at Duke Health has been granted “breakthrough therapy designation” from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The designation will expedite research into the poliovirus therapy, but it does not mean the investigational drug has been approved for clinical use. It is currently being tested in a clinical trial for adults with advanced glioblastoma brain tumors. To receive breakthrough status, preliminary evidence must indicate that the treatment may offer substantial improvement over available standard therapy.

“Breakthrough status means that we can work with the highest levels in the FDA to develop the most efficient clinical trial and pathway to fully evaluate the safety and efficacy of the genetically modified poliovirus for treating recurrent glioblastoma,” said Darell Bigner, MD, PhD, director of the Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center at Duke. “Ultimately, we hope the therapy will one day obtain FDA approval.”

Duke’s poliovirus therapy is an immunotherapy developed in the laboratory of Matthias Gromeier, MD, a professor in the departments of Neurosurgery, Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, and Medicine at Duke University School of Medicine.

Using a modified form of poliovirus that has been altered to eliminate harm, the therapy preferentially attacks cancer cells, which have an abundance of receptors that work like magnets to attract the poliovirus. The modified poliovirus then kills the infected tumor cells while also igniting an additional immune response.

A phase I clinical trial using the therapy was launched in 2012 to determine an optimal dose of the novel treatment among adult patients with glioblastoma whose cancer had returned after receiving traditional therapy.

Early testing found that lower doses of the treatment were superior to higher doses. Of 23 glioblastoma patients enrolled at the optimal dose level, 15 are still alive and enrollment is ongoing. Three patients treated early using different dosages are still alive more than 36 months after treatment. With current standard therapy, the median survival time for people with glioblastoma is 14.6 months.

The Duke team is moving to expand its work and open a clinical trial for children with brain tumors, which is expected to begin enrollment before year’s end. The researchers have also received federal grants to explore the therapy’s effect on solid tumors. Laboratory studies are already underway in breast cancer models.

Principal researchers at Duke who have been involved in the development and testing of the poliovirus therapy have founded and invested in a start-up company to advance the research.

Note: On May 15, CBS’s 60 Minutes updated viewers on poliovirus therapy for glioblastoma. To view, visit Breakthrough Status.

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May 13

Tune To CBS This Sunday Evening


As reported Thursday night, May 12, on CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley, 60 Minutes will update viewers on new developments in Duke’s poliovirus therapy for glioblastoma, including the news that the research was granted “breakthrough” status by the FDA to speed development. Watch 60 Minutes on Sunday, May 15 at 7pm EST.

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May 12

Graduation Day Ushers In New Start For Duke Cancer Patient


A jubilant Shannon “Paige” Walker celebrates her graduation day—her last day of treatment for invasive ductal carcinoma.

As seniors across the nation are donning caps and gowns for high school and college graduations, on Friday, April 29, Shannon “Paige” Walker put on her own commencement attire for a graduation of a different kind.

“This is my final day of radiation,” declared Walker, a patient at Duke. “I’m celebrating the person I’ve become as a result of this death-defying test in cancer.”

Two years ago, Walker, a veterinary sales representative who lives in Wilmington, noticed a very small knot in her breast. However, after visiting her gynecologist and undergoing two annual mammograms, her doctor remained unconcerned, explaining that the knot was most likely a small calcium deposit in her breast tissue. These calcifications are very common and usually benign, shared her doctor.

Over the next year, the “knot,” located near Walker’s left armpit, seemed to enlarge. In early June of 2015, Walker, ready for summer, was trying on bathing suits when she realized the protrusion in her breast was now visibly noticeable.

“Yes, I’m vain,” Walker said, with a chuckle. “I had pretty much decided I was going to have it taken care of cosmetically. I had a longstanding appointment with my doctor and happened to mention to her my intentions to have the knot removed.”

After an examination, her doctor ordered a mammogram and then an ultrasound. It wasn’t long after that Walker learned she had stage 2 invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC), also referred to as infiltrating ductal carcinoma. Abnormal cells that initially formed in her milk ducts had now spread beyond the ducts into the fatty tissue of her breast. Read the rest of this entry »

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May 11

“Rejuvenate And Educate” Supportive Care And Survivorship Day

Portrait femme seniorFor patients the cancer journey can be fraught with anxiety and stress. However, with a little pampering combined with some useful information, the Supportive Care and Survivorship Center hopes to pave a path to revitalization.

Rejuvenate And Educate, the theme for this year’s Supportive Care and Survivorship Day, takes place at Duke Cancer Center on Wednesday, June 1, from 2 to 7 p.m. The event features spa inspired activities and also an educational component, including a panel discussion with DCI faculty, including Shelley Hwang, MD; Donald McDonnell, PhD; Daniel George, MD; Michel Khouri, MD; and Cheyenne Corbett, PhD.

Other activities include makeovers, wig styling, massage therapy, hand massage, gentle yoga, journaling, live music, nutrition counseling, food demonstrations, informational and educational breakout sessions and much more. The day concludes with a panel discussion from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., followed by a reception from 6:30 to 7 p.m. Patients are encouraged to submit questions for discussion.

Hosted by the Supportive Care and Survivorship Center, the June 1 event is free to patients, caregivers and survivors. However, for planning purposes registration is requested. For more information or to register, visit Rejuvenate and Educate Supportive Care and Survivorship Day.



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May 10

America’s Nurses Take Pause To Celebrate National Nurses Week


Sascha Tuchman, MD, and Frances Bryant, RN, BSN, NM, nurse manager, hand out celebratory tee-shirts on May 10 to Clinic 5-1 nurses including Christine Daly, RN, BSN, and Louise Neal, RMA.

Each year, May 6 through 12, nurses nationwide band together, in person and in spirit, to celebrate their profession. National Nurses Week is a special week in which America’s nurses, their colleagues and their patients recognize the important contributions nurses make within their communities and beyond.

A native of Chicago, Illinois, Christine Daly, RN, Clinic 5-1, decided three years ago to leave the Windy City and move south to North Carolina. When looking for a place to practice, Duke was at the top of her list.

“I have always wanted to be a nurse,” said Daly, whose mother was a nurse. “I love caring for patients. Here, at Duke, I get to care for patients both pre-operatively and post-op. I love caring for others.”

Daly’s supervisor, Frances Bryant, RN, has been a nurse at Duke since 1989. About a year ago, she teamed up with Duke Cancer Institute.

“Nursing is a great profession because every day we make a difference in someone’s life,” she said. “In turn, our patients make an impact on our lives. I come into work feeling blessed to be able to do what I do.”

Pictured: Sascha Tuchman, MD; Kim Leder, RN; Brittany Adams, CMA; and Frances Bryant, RN, BSN, NM.

Never is teamwork emphasized more than in the field of nursing. Nurses work not only with one another but also with physicians, therapists, technicians and others to facilitate healing and alleviate of suffering. They all share a common goal—the health and wellbeing of those for whom they care.

“It’s a privilege to be a part of this amazing team of nurses,” said Bryant. “I see their hard work. Our nurses are dedicated professionals, always striving to make things better for their patients. They’re heroes.”

The white cap of yesteryear may be now just a symbolic icon, but the compassionate care it represents continues to this day to personify the nursing delivered today. To learn more about National Nurses Week, visit the American Nurses Association.

A Few Ways To Thank A Nurse

  • Say thank you with a handwritten note to a nurse who’s gone the extra mile—his or her efforts exemplifying the meaning of teamwork and dedication.
  • Say thank you to your colleague, a nurse, with gift basket of food or goodies.
  • Say thank you with a gift card for a little pampering or for a movie night with a friend.
  • Say thank you with a colorful bouquet—because nothing says thank you like flowers.

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May 09

Angels Among Us Raises $1.8 Million

AngelsAmongUs-8213-2Thousands of people from throughout the country laced up on Saturday, April 23, for the 23rd annual Angels Among Us 5K and Family Fun Walk. The event, organized by Ellen Stainback, director of external relations with the Preston Robert Tisch Brain Cancer Center and Mary Woodall, a coordinator with Angels Among Us, attracted more than 4,000 participants and raised over $1.8 million to support brain tumor research at the Preston Robert Tisch Brain Cancer Center.


Rosemary Smith and her daughter, Catherine, lead Team DNA.

“I initially got involved because I wanted marry fitness with a good cause,” said Paul Blessing, a half marathon runner. “I’ve come back every year now with my wife, Sharon, because we’ve come to know many people who have or are battling brain cancer. This is my fourth year participating; we have a fundraising team, The Blessings.”

North Carolinian Gavin Finlay, 36, came in first place with a time of 16:55. Joseph Knelman, 31, of Oakland, California, came in second place with 18:09, and Taylor Hurst, 27, of Stone Mountain, Georgia, was third, crossing the finish line with 18:12.

“Angels Among Us is more than just a fundraising event, it is a day for our patients to connect with other patients who are also on this journey and, together with their family members have a special day to celebrate life,” Stainback said. “We want this day to be very meaningful for our patients, caregivers and supporters.”

Team Raines is the top fundraising team having raised $121,389. Toni’s Miracle Angels came in second, having raised more than $105,798. Third place goes to The Tumornators, which to date has raised $47,086. Fundraising for Angels Among Us continues through the end of May. For more information or to donate to a team or individual, visit Angles Among Us.

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