Virginia Commonwealth University

VCU Massey Cancer Center

VCU scientists develop computer models simulating stem cell transplant recovery

Scientists at Virginia Commonwealth University have developed computer models that can simulate the recovery of the immune system in patients undergoing stem cell transplants. In two recent studies, they reinforce the potential of using DNA sequencing and computer modeling to predict which stem cell transplant recipients might suffer complications such as graft-versus-host-disease, a condition where the donor’s immune system attacks the recipient’s body. The studies build upon prior research by scientists at VCU Massey Cancer Center, the VCU Center for the Study of Biological Complexity and VCU’s Department of Psychiatry and Statistical Genomics that found evidence that the immune system may be modeled as a dynamical system.  

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In tough times, cancer patients find independence and solace with help of Supportive Care Clinic

When Malcolm Butler was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer last year, it flipped his world upside down. Struggling to decide which way to turn for help, he was referred to Virginia Commonwealth University Massey Cancer Center’s Supportive Care Clinic to form a plan and begin treatment.

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VCU scientists work to bring about a new treatment for rare childhood cancer

Neuroblastoma is a rare cancer that develops in very early forms of nerve cells in the embryo or fetus, and it accounts for the most pediatric deaths for any tumor outside of the brain. The most lethal form of this tumor is often associated with amplification of the gene MYCN, and now scientists at VCU Massey Cancer Center and the VCU Philips Institute for Oral Health Research may have developed a combination therapy that uses this gene to kill the cancer, instead of making it grow.

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Growth of Virginia’s first cardio-oncology program soars

Imagine being told that you are cancer free only to find out that your heart is failing as a result of your cancer treatments. The unfortunate reality is that the leading cause of death among cancer survivors is cardiovascular disease, and it is often caused by the same treatments that once saved their life. This reason is why VCU heart transplant specialist Michael Hess, M.D., decided to open Virginia’s first Cardio-Oncology Program at VCU Massey Cancer Center three years ago.

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A relentless battle against the odds

In February 2013, medical professionals told Keisha Harris that she likely had only 2-6 weeks left to live. Stage 4 cervical cancer had spread to her kidney and spinal cord. And after undergoing countless surgeries to remove the cancer, radiation therapy turned her insides into what she described as “the equivalent of wet toilet paper.” She was bleeding internally in excess of one pint per day. Her family members began to ask her what songs she would want played at her funeral.

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