University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI)

News

July 2014 — Potential Breast Cancer Drug Performs Well in Early Clinical Trials

A drug previously studied to improve chemotherapy may be effective in treating patients with cancers related to the BRCA 1 or 2 genetic mutations, as well as patients with BRCA-like breast cancers, according to a UPCI clinical trial. The drug, veliparib (ABT-888), is a PARP inhibitor, which means it lowers the resistance of cancer cells to treatment by targeting the polymerase (PARP) family of enzymes responsible for a wide variety of cellular processes in cancer cells, particularly DNA repair.

Watch medical oncologist Shannon Puhalla, MD discuss results of the phase I study, which were presented at the 50th annual American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting.

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March 2014 — UPCI Scientists Find Patients With Invasive Lobular Carcinoma May Benefit From Personalized Drug Therapies

According to a multidisciplinary team led by scientists at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI), invasive lobular carcinoma (ILC), the second-most common type of breast cancer, appears to be a good candidate for a personalized approach to treatment.

Patients with ILC are typically treated with surgery and chemotherapy or hormone therapy, or both. According to Steffi Oesterreich, PhD, Professor of Pharmacology & Chemical Biology, and Director of Education at the Women's Cancer Research Center, a subset of patients with ILC receive less benefit from this treatment than those with ductal carcinoma. Dr. Oesterreich's team recently described a unique program of estrogen receptor-driven gene expression in ILC cells that may play a role in drug resistance.

These findings were recently published in the March 1 edition of Cancer Research.

Watch Dr. Oesterreich and Matthew Sikora, PhD, a postdoctoral associate at UPCI, discuss this study.

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October 2013 — Accurately Identifying Neck Tumors Using Robotics Improves Treatment, Survival

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI) recently found that by using robotic surgery done through the mouth to identify the cause of lumps in the neck, physicians can better target more personalized therapies for patients and dramatically improve survival.

In the study, researchers examined 206 head and neck robotic cases performed at UPMC between December 2009 and December 2012. Transoral robotic surgery was performed on 22 patients where there was a lump in the neck with unknown origin, also known as occult primary squamous cell carcinoma. Of these 22 patients, the primary tumor was identified in 19 cases.

In order to determine the impact of identifying the unknown primary tumor on overall survival, researchers matched 69 patients with undiscovered carcinoma of unknown primary (following clinical exam, imaging, and surgical evaluation) and 67 patients in which the primary was discovered at the initial surgical evaluation. They found a difference in overall survival between undiscovered (8.83 years) and discovered (10.19 years).

UPCI researchers presented their findings at the ASTRO annual meeting in Atlanta.

Watch Umamaheswar Duvvuri, MD, PhD, discuss the presentation.

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