Damon Runyon News

September 9, 2016

Arvin C. Dar, PhD (Damon Runyon-Rachleff Innovator '14-'16) at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, reported that a “scaffolding protein” called the kinase suppressor of Ras (KSR) could be targeted as a way to disrupt signaling from mutant Ras protein. About 25 percent of human cancers have mutations in the Ras protein that disrupt growth signals and cause tumor development.  The researchers tested over 170 compounds and discovered that one could effectively slow cancer growth.

September 7, 2016

Colleen Delaney, MD, MSc (Damon Runyon Clinical Investigator ’07-’12) and colleagues at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, developed a method for using umbilical cord stem cells as a source of donor material for transplant. This is important because the majority of patients in need of a hematopoietic-cell transplant do not have a matched related donor. The advance is particularly valuable for minorities and people of mixed-race background.

July 20, 2016

Amit J. Sabnis, MD (Damon Runyon-Sohn Pediatric Cancer Fellow ’13-’17), of the University of California, San Francisco, and colleagues, demonstrated that cancer cells co-opt a cellular “chaperone” protein called HSP70 (heat-shock protein 70) to promote their growth. By blocking that pathway, the scientists were able to kill cells derived from patients with rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS), a rare muscle-tissue cancer that affects children.

July 14, 2016

Pavan Bachireddy, MD (Damon Runyon Physician-Scientist ’15-’19), Catherine J. Wu, MD (Damon Runyon-Lilly Clinical Investigator ’07-’12), and colleagues at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, reported that a new treatment approach, using repeated doses of the immunotherapy drug ipilimumab, may be able to restore a complete remission for some patients with advanced blood cancers that relapse after stem-cell transplant.

July 6, 2016

Daniel A. Heller, PhD (Damon Runyon Fellow ’10-’12), and colleagues at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, reported that radiation-guided nanoparticles may offer a new approach for penetrating the vascular barrier that often prevents current nanomedicines from reaching metastatic tumors. In a mouse model of lung cancer and metastatic melanoma and breast tumors, the nanoparticles selectively delivered chemotherapy drugs to the tumors. The researchers hope to translate these findings to clinical trials.

May 30, 2016

Damon Runyon Clinical Investigators Aude G. Chapuis, MD (’15-’17) of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, Cassian Yee, MD (’01-’06), of M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Jedd D. Wolchok, MD, PhD (’03-’08), of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, and colleagues, have successfully treated a patient with metastatic melanoma by combining two different types of immunotherapy, harnessing the patient’s own immune system to attack and destroy the cancer.

May 4, 2016

The Pershing Square Sohn Cancer Research Alliance has announced the winners of the 2016 Pershing Square Sohn Prize for Young Investigators in Cancer Research. The annual prize aims to catalyze collaboration among young investigators, academics, nonprofits, investors, and the biotech and pharmaceutical industries. The prize-winners will each receive funding for up to three years. Two of the seven awards were granted to Damon Runyon scientists:  

May 3, 2016

Election to the National Academy of Sciences is one of the highest honors that can be earned by a U.S. scientist. In recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original biomedical research, members of the Damon Runyon community of scientists were inducted this May:


Adrian P. Bird, PhD (Damon Runyon Fellow '71-'73), Wellcome Trust Centre for Cell Biology, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom 

April 25, 2016

Cameron J. Turtle, MD, PhD (Damon Runyon Clinical Investigator ’13-’16) and colleagues at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, successfully refined a cancer immunotherapy treatment, resulting in no detectable disease in 27 of 29 adult patients (93%) with B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, or ALL. The pioneering technique uses two subsets of genetically engineered immune T-cells from the patient (CD19 CAR-T cells) to target and attack the cancer.

April 25, 2016

Azad Bonni, MD, PhD (Damon Runyon Fellow ’96-’97) of Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, and colleagues, were the first to show that a protein called OSMR (Oncostatin M Receptor) is required for glioblastoma tumors to form. They found that blocking OSMR activity in brain tumor stem cells prevented them from forming tumors in mouse brains. In addition, an analysis of 339 tumor samples from human glioblastoma patients showed that higher OSMR expression corresponded with worse patient survival outcome.