Meet the finalists for the 2013 Rangos Award for Creativity in Cancer Discovery and learn more about their new and innovative approaches to metastatic cancer research and treatment.
First Place: Jason D. Howard, Ph.D.
Jason D. Howard, Ph.D.
Metastatic Disease: A Daunting Challenge Requiring Daring Solutions
While treatment of and survival from primary cancer have benefited young patients, metastatic disease continues to challenge older patients who account for the majority of those with cancer. Expanding on the success of the preventive vaccine against human papillomavirus, the cause of cervical cancer and several head and neck cancers, Dr. Howard proposes to generate a new generation of therapeutic cancer vaccines. Proteins isolated from metastatic tumors uniquely mark those cells and Dr. Howard aims to use them to train the body’s own immune system to mount a response against the remaining and future metastatic disease.
Second Place: Ashwin Ram, M.D.
Ashwin Ram, M.D.
Using Massively-Parallel Tumor Sequencing to Reverse-Engineer Rationally Designed Molecular Computing Devices for Personalized Treatment of Glioblastoma Multiforme
Cancer stem cells contribute to the aggressiveness of glioblastoma multiforme, the most common and lethal brain cancer in adults. Dr. Ram proposes to use gene sequencing to identify genetic signatures that define these aggressive cells. By engineering molecular computing devices that incorporate the cell’s own machinery to identify GBM-associated mutations and trigger selective cell death, Dr. Ram aims to personalize the treatment of this disease.
Third Place: Hogan Tang, Ph.D.
Hogan Tang, Ph.D.
Cell Survival by Anastasis, a Novel Therapeutic Target in Cancer
Dr. Tang previously discovered a process called anastasis—Greek for “rising to life”—whereby cells undergoing a cell suicide process can come back to life. He proposes that, compared to treatable cancers, some non-treatable cancer cells, such as pancreatic or lung cancers, may have a higher capacity for anastasis, which contributes to cancer recurrence after treatment. Therefore, Dr. Tang suggests, targeting the genes that promote anastasis ultimately may be the key to curing cancer.
Fourth Place: Sylvie Stacy, M.D.
A New Approach to Bringing Scientific Advancements to Cancer Patients
The traditional drug approval process, which emphasizes controlled clinical trials, is not built to accommodate genomics information and disease features distinct to each patient. Dr. Stacy proposes to change the drug testing and approval process by taking a more individualized approach that uses adaptive methods, data sharing and more efficient transition of experimental phases. As our understanding of genomics in cancer deepens, combining clinical information and new data collection strategies can lead to a transformation in care.
Fifth Place: Xiaochuan Yang, Ph.D.
Xiaochuan Yang, Ph.D.
Simultaneous Targeting the Oncogenic Mutation and Microenvironment-derived Cytokine as the Cancer Treatment Strategy in Personalized Medicine
One theory about how cancer cells persist attributes much blame to the cells surrounding the cancer, which can provide nutrients and safe harbor from chemotherapies. Dr. Yang proposes that a careful study of the microenvironment around a site of cancer growth, in this case the bone marrow surrounding acute myeloid leukemia, will provide information specific to each patient. This can lead to the development of personalized treatment regimens which may improve prognosis.