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Research Highlights for July 2023

Read Time: 3 minutes

Research Highlights

Huntsman Cancer Institute research highlights shine the spotlight on new discoveries and cutting-edge cancer research. This month, researchers reduce the risk of infections after pancreatic surgery and discover the best cost-effective treatment combination for prostate cancer patients. Also, learn which lung cancer patients have the most emergency room visits, what genetic mutation may increase the likelihood of anemia after chemotherapy, and the new non-invasive way to remove a brain tumor.

New antibiotic leads to fewer infections after pancreatic surgery

Almost 33% of pancreatic cancer patients get an infection after having pancreatic surgery, particularly after a Whipple operation, a procedure to remove tumors from the head of the pancreas. When patients used a new antibiotic, investigators found their infection rates were cut in half. The results were published in the journal JAMA Network. Courtney Scaife, MD, surgeon and gastrointestinal disease center leader at Huntsman Cancer Institute, served as the principal investigator for the clinical trial. The study ended early because the results were significant and physicians immediately switched to the new antibiotic to more effectively treat patients.

Which prostate cancer treatment is the best financial option?

Researchers from Huntsman Cancer Institute and the University of Utah (the U) pharmacy department teamed up to find the best, most affordable combination of treatment for those with metastatic hormone-sensitive prostate cancer. Manish Kohli, MD, physician-scientist at Huntsman Cancer Institute, and the team looked at seven different combinations of medications approved for clinical use. They evaluated the records of previous clinical trials, over 7,200 patients, to find the treatment that was the most affordable, ensured the best quality of life, and did not compromise any standard of care. The results were published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Researchers found that a drug regimen of abiraterone acetate plus prednisone (AAP) was best for advanced prostate cancer and they hope that it will become the new standard treatment.

Lung cancer patients who get immunotherapy have more emergency department visits

A new study found lung cancer patients who are receiving immunotherapies take more trips to inpatient and emergency departments. The results have been published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. Djin Tay, RN, PhD, researcher at Huntsman Cancer Institute, led efforts to understand factors that increase this risk. Social, healthcare, and demographic information allowed researchers, clinicians, patients, and caregivers to better understand who may be at greater risk for these visits and hospitalizations. The study gives the team a starting point on improving supportive care for lung cancer patients receiving immunotherapies.

New discovery provides hope for cancer patients with anemia

Recently, a team of physicians and scientists from Huntsman Cancer Institute, Intermountain LDS Hospital, ARUP Laboratories, and Intermountain Primary Children's Hospital investigate the genetics of a patient with aplastic anemia. Anemia is a common side effect of many chemotherapy treatments. When someone has aplastic anemia, their immune system attacks healthy hematopoietic cells. During the investigation, a genome-wide event was discovered that allowed healthy cells to go undetected. The study was published in the British Journal of Hematology. Huntsman Cancer Institute researchers include Srinivas Tantravahi, MBBS, Luke Maese, DO, Jennie Vagher, CGC, and Anthony Pomicter, MS, and was led by Charles Parker, MD.

Researchers working on new, non-invasive way to treat brain tumors

With National Cancer Institute and American Cancer Society grants, researchers at Huntsman Cancer Institute and the U are currently using focused ultrasound, instead of surgery, to treat brain tumors. Henrik Odéen, PhD, MS, investigator at Huntsman Cancer Institute and assistant professor in the department of radiology and imaging sciences at the U, says they are using micrometer-sized gas filled bubbles with a non-invasive focus ultrasound beam. The beam shakes the bubbles until they explode and the mechanical forces destroy the tumor. Researchers hope this new way to destroy brain tumors can reduce the number of surgeries.

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About Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah

Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah is the National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center for Utah, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, and Wyoming. With a legacy of innovative cancer research, groundbreaking discoveries, and world-class patient care, we are transforming the way cancer is understood, prevented, diagnosed, treated, and survived. Huntsman Cancer Institute focuses on delivering the highest standard of care and the most advanced treatments, ensuring world-class cancer care is available to all communities in the area we serve. We have more than 300 open clinical trials and 250 research teams studying cancer at any given time. More genes for inherited cancers have been discovered at Huntsman Cancer Institute than at any other cancer center. Our scientists are world-renowned for understanding how cancer begins and using that knowledge to develop innovative approaches to treat each patient’s unique disease. Huntsman Cancer Institute was founded by Jon M. and Karen Huntsman.

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