Up Front Winter 2013 

Understanding the Molecular Mechanisms of Malignancy is Key to Cancer Care

A tenet of Ohio State's cancer program is that there is no such thing as a routine cancer. Likewise, there is nothing routine about the science-based care we offer.


Research is teaching us that we cannot characterize cancer solely by its location in the body; we must also consider its biology. We now realize that cancer is hundreds of diseases, with disparate causes, that act, react and adapt differently to each person's biological makeup and that require individualized treatment.

To cure cancer, we must examine the molecular attributes of each patient's malignancy to see what mechanisms are at work and develop targeted therapies tailored to a tumor's genetics. That’s how we are working to create a cancer-free world, and we chronicle several examples in this issue of Frontiers.

For instance, our cover story, "About-Face for Leukemia," focuses on an amazing new molecularly targeted drug, ibrutinib, that in clinical trials is proving to be highly effective and well tolerated among patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia, producing durable remissions even among elderly patients and those who have relapsed and are resistant to other therapies.

In "Mechanisms of Resilience," we examine how our scientists are identifying biological mechanisms that enable certain cancer cells to survive radiation therapy so they can devise counteractive measures to improve treatment.

"A Singular Focus on Lung Cancer" features Dr. David Carbone, an expert in this disease who has joined our strong lung cancer team to organize and lead a thoracic oncology center that will integrate research with patient care to improve outcomes for patients with this malignancy, the top cancer killer in the United States. David specializes in the molecular biology of lung cancer and developing drugs to treat it.

I hope you will enjoy reading about some of our efforts to rise above the routine in fighting a foe that is anything but.

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