Cancer is a disease rooted in the DNA of our bodies' cells that profoundly affects the lives of individuals, communities, and all of society. At Dana-Farber, scientists are attacking cancer at every level: unraveling the most basic mechanisms in cells and tissues, discovering molecular targets for new "smart" drug therapies, harnessing the immune forces to combat cancer, and seeking to identify disparities in cancer incidence and treatment in diverse populations.
Below are some featured areas of Dana-Farber research:
Cancer immunology is now one of the most exciting and important areas of investigation in the cancer field. Recent clinical trials conducted at Dana-Farber and other centers have shown that targeting of inhibitory receptors on immune cells can induce durable responses even in cancer patients with advanced disease. The magnitude and durability of responses to immunotherapies in patients with diverse types of cancer are unprecedented in oncology. We think that this is just the beginning of one of the most exciting chapters in the fight against cancer.
Dana-Farber has a long history of excellence in this field, and our immunology investigators have made important contributions to these advances that are now benefiting patients.
Precision Cancer Medicine
Precision cancer medicine is an evolving approach that leverages knowledge of the pathogenesis (origination and development) of a cancer to more precisely target therapy. We know that most or all cancer results from abnormal genes or gene regulation. The cause of these changes can be environmental, such as smoking; spontaneous, such as a result of mutations or changes in genes; or from inherited genetic alterations. Our clinicians use specialized tests to create a precise "tumor profile" of genetic changes for each patient's cancer, making it possible to identify the most important mutations. Results from these tests can help us select specific therapeutic agents to precisely treat each individual's cancer.
Ours is one of the nation's most comprehensive precision cancer medicine research initiatives, having completed more than 50,000 genetic profiles of patients' tumors, and adding about 400 each month to the database.