Cancer takes the lives of some 7.6 million people worldwide each year, according to the World Health Organization. And while the upcoming World Cancer Day (February 4) will focus on a global message of cancer awareness and prevention, the importance of cancer research also will resonate.
Bringing cancer research to new levels is The Cancer Institute of New Jersey, one of the nation's 41 Comprehensive Cancer Centers as designated by the National Cancer Institute and the only such center in New Jersey. As a Center of Excellence of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, The Cancer Institute of New Jersey prides itself on the ability of its internationally recognized scientists to translate their research into new prevention and treatment initiatives.
For instance, investigators involved in the precision medicine initiative at The Cancer Institute of New Jersey are ready to embark on a genomic analysis project which could illuminate more paths toward developing personalized treatments for cancer patients. It is believed that some rare and poor-prognosis cancers that currently have limited treatment options may harbor genomic anomalies that may be treated with specific targeted therapies. Through next generation sequencing and data analysis of DNA in tissue samples, researchers aim to identify these changes in order to guide treatment and/or direct patients to specific clinical trials of novel agents.
The Cancer Institute of New Jersey is also one of the few cancer centers in the nation to have their own zebrafish laboratory. Investigators are using a transparent breed of this fish as a genetic model to study the pathways and genetic mutations involved in cancer development. Researchers at The Cancer Institute of New Jersey have long used these models in leukemia and lymphoma research. They also have begun using zebrafish to examine prostate cancer, having developed a unique way to graft prostate cancer tumor stem cells. In this model, cancer stem cells from biopsies of prostate cancer patients are transplanted into zebrafish embryos, and these embryo grafts are used to determine cancer cells' response to new drugs. This model is being expanded among U.S. cancer centers through the Prostate Cancer Clinical Trials Consortium.