Advances in cancer care

The lawn in front of Emory University School of Medicine filled up with flags representing patients who received a bone marrow transplant at Winship Cancer Insitute. On June 21, 2016, the last five flags were placed to celebrate the 5,000th BMT patient at Winship.
In recognition of scientific progress and the role Winship has played in advancing cancer research and treatment, former President Jimmy Carter videotaped this message that was played at the Winship Gala held on April 30, 2016.
With a national reputation for research, education, and patient care, Emory’s Winship Cancer Institute is changing lives.

In 1979, Winship’s Bone Marrow and Stem Cell Transplant Center took a bold chance, becoming one of the first cancer centers in the nation to offer transplants to patients with blood cancers and blood disorders.

Last summer, the center celebrated its 5,000th transplant by inviting some of the center’s earliest patients to carpet the lawn of Emory School of Medicine with 5,000 flags. Today, the transplant program is the oldest and largest in the state. And for patients, the experience is easier and their outcomes vastly improved.

“This is a death-defying treatment,” reflects Elliott Winton, one of two Emory hematologists who saw early potential in the treatment. “If we can cure somebody, particularly somebody with many years left of good quality life, that’s one of the biggest thrills of my career.”

For 80 years, Winship has tackled the cancer challenge with research leading to ever-improving treatments that have helped extend the quality of life and given hope to thousands.

It’s a story told time and again.

A decade ago, there were few effective treatment options for patients with advanced melanoma or lung cancer. Now, that’s changing, thanks to a family of new immunotherapy drugs that harness the power of a patient’s own immune system in healing — including the drug former President Jimmy Carter credited as part of his treatment at Winship Cancer Institute.

In fact, Winship and Emory investigators played a lead role in the fundamental research that led to the development of such drugs. Taking it to the next step, Winship physicians and researchers have been involved in clinical trials of almost every new immunotherapy drug that’s won FDA approval.

That’s one reason why the Winship Cancer Institute is the first and only National Cancer Institute–designated cancer center in the state of Georgia, a distinction it earned in 2009. Central to the Winship vision and mission is reducing the burden of cancer in Georgia through innovative research that is translated every day into clinical trials, cancer prevention, and better treatments.

And recently, the Winship Cancer Institute also earned the prestigious comprehensive cancer center designation from the NCI, placing it among the top one percent of all cancer centers in the United States. The elite designation recognizes that Winship’s outstanding programs are reducing the cancer burden on the state of Georgia through its innovative research, clinical trial programs, and population-based science.

“The NCI comprehensive cancer center designation signifies Winship's outstanding research and education programs are changing the lives of the citizens of Georgia for the better," says Winship Executive Director Walter J. Curran Jr. "As the first and only NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center in the state, our clinicians and researchers work tirelessly to substantially lessen the burden of cancer on the lives of Georgia's residents."

Winship research spans the continuum from basic, clinical, and translational research to population-based outcomes and dissemination programs and cutting-edge initiatives with other Atlanta-area institutions. With a strong emphasis on community outreach, Winship Cancer Institute is also seeking to understand and better prioritize health needs throughout the state, addressing the region’s specific cancer challenges.

With goals of conducting transformative cancer research and treatment with high quality, innovative care, Winship is invested in training the next generation of cancer scientists who will continue the momentum and build on today’s breakthrough discoveries.

Today, Winship is reaching even more cancer patients through an expansion of the Winship Cancer Institute facility at Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital and a new wing of the Emory University Hospital nearing completion along Clifton Road — as well as locations at Emory Johns Creek and Emory University Midtown Hospitals.

Last summer, Winship was among only 10 cancer centers in the country to host a regional Cancer Moonshot Summit to explore how to take cancer care to the next level, drawing more than 100 cancer researchers, clinicians, advocates, public health officials, and patients.

The goal? Double the rate of progress in cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment during the next five years and ultimately end cancer as we know it.

Cancer vaccine

With the support of a $2.5 million, five-year grant from the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health, research is under way to develop a new cancer vaccine immunotherapy targeting triple-negative breast cancer.

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SIRT2 gene

Can a gene prevent us from getting cancer? Emory researchers are investigating the gene SIRT2, identified as a regulator of aging and tumor suppression, for its potential to benefit cancer patients.

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Nanoparticles

Emory scientists have devised a triple-stage “cluster-bomb” system for delivering the chemotherapy drug cisplatin via tiny nanoparticles designed to break up when they reach a tumor.

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Novel agents

Identification of novel agents could help reverse the resistance of lung cancer cells to standard treatment therapies such as chemotherapy and radiation.

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Precision diet

Can a low-fat diet curb the growth of tumors? Winship researchers are exploring the concept of employing a “precision diet” tailored to an individual patient’s cancer.

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Neighboring effect

Certain DNA mutations in bone cells that support blood development can drive leukemia in nearby blood stem cells, complicating treatment efforts.

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Anticancer tool

Arecoline, the stimulant component of areca nuts, commonly chewed in many Asian countries, has been discovered to demonstrate anticancer properties.

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