Honoring a decade of Standing Up To Cancer

On September 7, Stand Up To Cancer’s (SU2C) telecast shared inspiring stories of hope, perseverance, and groundbreaking cancer research to a worldwide audience.

This year marks 10 years of SU2C’s incredible support for collaborative, multi-disciplinary research teams and investigators to enable faster scientific breakthroughs. Dana-Farber is proud to have collaborated with SU2C in our shared mission to conquer cancer since the organization’s very beginning.

With funding from SU2C, Dana-Farber physician-scientists have uncovered new information about the complexities of cancers—including their drivers, mutations, and targets—to deliver new, more effective treatments to patients.

Here are three of the current Dana-Farber investigations funded in part by SU2C:

Innovating Detection and Treatment for Multiple Myeloma Precursor Conditions

A Stand Up To Cancer Dream Team, led by a Dana-Farber physician-scientist, aims to revolutionize the treatment of multiple myeloma. The SU2C Multiple Myeloma Dream Team will focus on early detection of precursor conditions before they turn into full-blown myeloma, an incurable cancer of plasma cells. The research team will follow study participants with precursor conditions and will use their blood samples to discover biomarkers that will help clinicians predict who has a high risk of progressing to overt multiple myeloma. The team will also work to develop new therapies to prevent these conditions from evolving into multiple myeloma.

“We tell people with precursor conditions that we will ‘watch and wait’ until it turns into multiple myeloma, with multiple tumors that can potentially cause organ damage. That’s like telling people with breast cancer or colon cancer that we are not going to do anything until the cancer metastasizes throughout the body. We want to change that.”

Irene Ghobrial, MD
Director, Michele and Steven Kirsch Laboratory, Dana-Farber
Co-Principal investigator,
Center for Prevention of Progression of Blood Cancers, Dana-Farber
SU2C Multiple Myeloma Dream Team Leader

Investigating Natural Killer Cells in Immuno-oncology

A Convergence Team Research Grant from SU2C is supporting a Dana-Farber study on how tumor cells develop resistance to a type of immune cell that the body uses to stop the development of cancers, bringing together experts from different disciplines such as clinical oncologists, computational biology and Artificial Intelligence. This study specifically focuses on natural killer (NK) cells, white blood cells that play a role in viral response, and their potent antitumor properties. Results from this research could have an impact on studies on a wide range of cancers, as well as other types of therapies.

“Recently in immunotherapy, the emphasis has understandably been on the major progress with checkpoint blockade and CAR T cells—a T-cell-centric view of tumor immunotherapy. But there has also been a longstanding interest in NK cells.”

Constantine Mitsiades, MD, PhD
Researcher, Dana-Farber
SU2C Natural Killer Cells Convergence Research Team Leader

Identifying and Targeting Mechanisms of Resistance to Immunotherapy 

A SU2C Innovative Research Grant is funding Dana-Farber research on identifying and targeting mechanisms of resistance to immunotherapy. The study – awarded to an early career researcher who has a novel idea with great potential to help patients that would not be funded by traditional sources – examines the mechanisms behind patients’ varied responses to immunotherapy drugs so that those who are more likely to respond favorably to the treatment can be identified before beginning therapy. It will also identify novel drug targets that have the potential to overcome resistance to the therapy.

“We have identified genetic changes in some patients’ tumors that make them resistant to immunotherapy. This SU2C grant is helping us to determine which immunologic drugs are going to defy resistance and be most effective in a given patient.”

Rizwan Haq, MD, PhD
Translational Researcher, Melanoma, Dana-Farber
SU2C Innovative Research Grant recipient

Dana-Farber is grateful to SU2C for its ongoing support of innovation, research breakthroughs, and shared mission to end cancer. There is unlimited potential in cancer science right now, and new discoveries and therapies are made possible by the dedicated members of our community.