UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center Magazine Spring 2017 - Page 26

quick takes Davis Receives Grant for Promising CLL Treatment Randall Davis, M.D., professor in the UAB Division of Hematology and Oncology and UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center senior scientist, has been awarded a three-year, $600,000 Translational Research Program Grant from the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society to identify antibodies, specifically targeting a protein called FCRL1, that could become a potential new treatment therapy for patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Dr. Davis has been investigating a large family of genes he co-discovered about 15 years ago while in his fellowship at UAB. These genes encode receptors that are found on the surface of certain types of white blood cells, termed lymphocytes. B lymphocytes, or B cells, play a critical role in protecting individuals from infections and are key responders to vaccines. One of these receptors is the protein FCRL1, which is expressed by healthy B cells as well as certain malignant B cell leukemias and lymphomas. Many research groups and pharmaceutical companies are making antibodies to target proteins on B cells and other types of cancerous cells. However, little progress has been made specifically in targeting FCRL1. Over the years, Dr. Davis and his team have have generated several FCRL1-specific antibodies. With this grant, they are defining and optimizing these antibodies and studying the preclinical effects of potential drugs on targeting FCRL1 in CLL. There were an estimated 18,960 new cases of CLL diagnosed in the United States in 2016. The disorder is incurable by conventional therapies other than a stem cell transplant. Patients’ average age at diagnosis is about 71 years old, and most patients typically do not tolerate the aggressive treatment of a transplant well. NIH Study Identifies Genomic Features of Cervical Cancer Investigators with The Cancer Genome Atlas Research Network, including UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center associate scientist Akinyemi Ojesina, M.D., Ph.D., have identified novel genomic and molecular characteristics of cervical cancer that will aid in the sub-classification of the disease and may help target therapies that are most appropriate for each individual patient. The study, published in Nature, conducted a comprehensive analysis of the genomes of 178 primary cervical cancers, and found that more than 70 percent of the tumors had genomic alterations in either one or both of two important cell signaling pathways. The researchers also found that a subset of tumors did not show evidence of human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. Researchers found that a unique set of eight cervical cancers showed molecular similarities to endometrial cancers. Most of these endometrial-like cancers were HPV- Akinyemi Ojesina, M.D., Ph.D. negative, and they had strikingly high frequencies of mutations in certain genes. It has been thought that virtually all cases of cervical cancer are caused by HPV, and just two HPV types are responsible for about 70 percent of all cases. “Basically, this study confirms some of our previous work that HPV infection may not be involved in all cases of cervical cancer,” says Dr. Ojesina, who has been involved with the study for the past three YX\[\Hܜ\ۙ[]]܈ۈ\\\H\[و\YH[[X[HXY[ܙH\]Y\\Y\܈\X[[\XX[܈[ܙB[ L ]\\و[\[[ܙH[ L X]XXYX\ܛYKHHHHHHBHHHH