City of Hope is focused on rapidly transforming scientific discoveries into better treatments and prevention strategies for cancer, diabetes and other diseases. Our mission is to quickly bring cures to patients. As part of that effort, we manufacture potential new therapies on our campus, enabling investigators to create promising treatments without the high cost and delays encountered by other research centers.
Today’s researchers are continuing a long tradition of achievement. The many efforts currently underway include a study of a combination of ancient Chinese medicine in combination with chemotherapy for the treatment of colon cancer, testing the use of genetically modified T cells to reduce the chances of relapse in patients undergoing autologous transplant and researching a way of curing diabetes independent of diet.
At City of Hope, we treat the whole person by providing not only the best medical care possible for our patients, but also by providing that care in an atmosphere of kindness and compassion. City of Hope gives its patients and their loved ones the resources, education and support they need to better manage the challenges related to a serious illness.
Advances in Science and Medicine
Turning to Nature: Yun Yen, M.D., Ph.D., Dr. & Mrs. Allen Y. Chao Chair in Developmental Cancer Therapeutics, along with researchers from Yale University and the University of Pittsburgh, was awarded funding from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to study Chinese herbal medicine for cancer. The project explores the combination of chemotherapy drug capecitabine with PHY906, a four-herb Chinese medicine based on the 1,800 year old Chinese formula known as Huang Qin Tang, in a phase II trial for advanced colon cancer. Dr. Yen has investigated the combination therapy of both drugs in early phase clinical trials for patients with liver cancer and found promising results.
T Cell Immunotherapy: Stephen J. Forman, M.D., Francis & Kathleen McNamara Distinguished Chair in Hematology and Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation, and Christine Brown, Ph.D., associate director of the T Cell Immunotherapy Laboratory, continue to study genetically modified T cells. They are treating patients undergoing autologous transplant for recurrent lymphoma in order to trigger a tumor-specific immune response to reduce the chances of relapse. Researchers plan to extend this trial to patients with B cell lymphoma who are not undergoing transplant, with an expected approval to proceed in the first quarter of 2014.
Establishing Nationwide Guidelines: Smita Bhatia, M.D., M.P.H., Ruth Ziegler Chair in Population Sciences, and Wendy Landier, Ph.D., R.N., N.P., assistant professor, Population Sciences, are helping to set the developing national guidelines for screenings for early detection of long-term complications in childhood cancer survivors. After 4,992 screening tests on 370 childhood cancer survivors over the course of 1,188 clinic visits, they found that survivors were at highest risk for slow thyroid function, hearing loss, low bone mineral density, iron overload in the blood and pulmonary dysfunction. Recommending that screening for these complications is appropriate for this group of young patients, their findings were published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
Treatment of AIDS-related Lymphoma: John Zaia, M.D., Aaron D. & Edith Miller Chair in Gene Therapy, Amrita Krishnan, M.D., director, Multiple Myeloma Program, and David DiGiusto, Ph.D., research professor, Department of Virology, have conducted transplants in patients that have both lymphoma and HIV infection. City of Hope was the first to show that it was possible to cure patients of lymphoma who suffered from HIV infection, and has changed the standard of care in the U.S.
Protecting Patients from CMV: John Zaia continues to make progress in a vaccine for cytomegalovirus (CMV) in patients undergoing transplantation. CMV infections can be life-threatening for people with suppressed or compromised immune systems. This year, a second generation vaccine, called CMV-MVA was developed by Don J. Diamond, Ph.D., associate chair, Department of Virology. CMV-MVA was manufactured for clinical trial in City of Hope’s Center for Biomedicine & Genetics, and once the FDA review is complete, Drs. Zaia and Diamond expect to start safety and immunogenic studies of two dosage levels in patients.
Curing Diabetes Independent of Diet: Sanjay Awasthi, M.D., professor, Diabetes and Metabolic Diseases Research, published research that gained media attention in Southern California. His paper, featured in the high-impact Journal of Biological Chemistry this past August, posits that the RLIP76 protein plays a central role in the development of diabetes, obesity and cancer. He has also shown that inhibiting this protein may cure these diseases regardless of diet — currently a significant intervention to manage type 2 diabetes. In his study, mice lacking the protein were resistant to gaining weight — even on a high-fat diet — and had reduced blood sugar, cholesterol and triglyceride levels. This research could lead to drugs that target RLIP76 and cure type 2 diabetes, even without an altered diet.
National and International Leadership
Continued National Leadership in Cancer Care: For the 10th year, City of Hope ranked in the top 25 cancer hospitals in the U.S.News & World Report’s Best Hospitals list — recognition that reflects ongoing efforts to deliver the best patient care possible. Rated at 15 in the entire country, City of Hope is one of fewer than 150 medical centers to appear on the national Best Hospitals list.
Coordinating Worldwide Islet Cell Research Efforts: City of Hope continues its role as the Data Coordinating Center of the Integrated Islet Distribution Program (IIDP), a multiyear initiative to supply high-quality islet cells to diabetes researchers around the world. In that role, we were recently awarded an additional five-year, $15 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to help ensure that researchers get the cells they need. Research efforts supported by the IIDP at City of Hope have led to more than 420 high-quality scientific studies being published.
Prestigious Grant for Supportive Care: The Department of Supportive Care Medicine was awarded a $1.5 million grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to train health care professionals to build, implement and evaluate supportive care programs at their own institutions. The NCI also granted City of Hope $1.6 million to train faculty and staff at various institutions to implement biopsychosocial screening, which helps to uncover patient strengths and needs at the very beginning of treatment.
Grant for Innovative Immunotherapy Approach: The Marcus Foundation awarded City of Hope a grant of $2.5 million for research into a new treatment for brain tumors and lymphomas, which takes apart the tumors’ support network and at the same time stimulates the immune system to attack the cancer. Devised by Hua Yu, Ph.D., co-leader of the Cancer Immunotherapeutics Program, with Stephen J. Forman, the Francis & Kathleen McNamara Distinguished Chair in Hematology and Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation, and Behnam Badie, M.D., director of the Brain Tumor Program, and Marcin Kortylewski, Ph.D., assistant professor of the Department of Cancer Immunotherapeutics and Tumor Immunology, the approach has already demonstrated its effectiveness in preclinical studies.
Award for Neural Stem Cell Research: Karen Aboody, M.D., associate professor, Department of Neurosciences and Division of Neurosurgery, received a $4.6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to use neural stem cells to treat one of the most common childhood cancers, neuroblastoma. The research involves a novel method of delivering anticancer drugs to neuroblastoma tumor sites, using neural stem cells to target the tumors and minimize damage to healthy tissues. Aboody and her team engineered neural stem cells to make an enzyme that converts an inactive pro-drug into a powerful anticancer agent. This means the chemotherapy stays close to the tumor, reducing side effects.
Charity Navigator 4-star rating
We are proud to announce that City of Hope has received a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator for the 11th consecutive year. Charity Navigator is the leading evaluator of nonprofits in the United States. This high award is reserved for only the top five percent of U.S. charities, and only one percent have received this rating for 11 years in a row.