Cancer Research Breakthroughs at Hackensack University Medical Center
Roundup of the Most Promising Clinical and Lab Discoveries Fueled by the Center for Discovery & Innovation
Researchers at Hackensack Meridian John Theurer Cancer Center at Hackensack University Medical Center are pursuing entirely new realms in cancer treatment with promising results.
- At the Hackensack Meridian Center for Discovery & Innovation (CDI), researchers are working to identify differences in microbiome signals among people who respond to cancer therapies and those who do not. The team is hoping to find out whether restoring the balance of microorganisms in the body can restore health.
- Another CDI team is researching microorganisms that can infect the pancreas, including fungal infections that may lead to pancreatic cancer, and exploring options for the 20 percent of cancer patients who don’t respond to standard-of-care therapies. For example, when clinicians are faced with a fast-growing brain tumor for which no approved therapies are available, the CDI can grow cells from a sample of a patient’s tumor in the lab and test combinations of approved therapies to inform clinical decisions.
- CDI researchers also have discovered a new, more accurate way to find and harness particles released from cells into the circulation that could allow for the early identification of cancer. Published in the Journal of Extracellular Vesicles, this new methodology called EV-CATCHER finds and quantifies tiny amounts of small-RNA biomarkers by using engineered antibodies to specifically select EVs circulating in plasma.
- Researchers at CDI found that reversing inflammation in the bone marrow could result in treatment breakthroughs for older patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML), a type of blood cancer. The team discovered a novel protein called Stem Cell Growth Factor Alpha (SCGFa) that, when infused intravenously after chemotherapy, preserved vascular function, promoted stem cell function and promoted recovery of the body’s ability to make blood cells.
- In August 2021, CDI researchers in coordination with Hackensack Meridian Health clinical experts launched a clinical trial to study a new protocol to reduce the risk of infection in patients who are scheduled to receive a bone marrow transplant. Participating patients will be given a perirectal swab test to identify and characterize their gut bacteria in advance to inform antibiotic selection if an infection develops.