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Research: From moving better to recovering faster, here's what we're studying. 
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Cancer Research 

Baylor is currently involved in several studies to determine better ways to diagnose and treat a variety of cancers.

Breast Cancer Research

Baylor is one of four sites nationally studying fine needle aspiration to help identify precancerous cells in women who have a high risk for breast cancer in a high priority phase II trial funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), as well as participating in one of the world's largest breast cancer prevention trials ever undertaken through the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project.

The STAR project studied 19,000 women to compare effectiveness of the drug tamoxifen against raloxifene in preventing breast cancer. In initial reports, raloxifene and tamoxifen were equally effective for lowering the risk of invasive breast cancer and raloxifene was found not to increase endometrial cancer risk. In contrast to tamoxifen however, raloxifene was shown not to reduce the risk of noninvasive breast cancer.

Raloxifene also was associated with significantly less risk of thromboembolic events and cataracts. These results demonstrate raloxifene is an alternative for lowering risk of invasive breast cancer in certain postmenopausal women. Baylor researchers also spent two years studying 305 breast cancer patients who had undergone sentinel lymph node biopsy to determine when the cancer was most likely to metastasize to help improve survival rates. Find more information on a research study at Baylor.

Gastrointestinal Cancer Research

Baylor is one of only 10 sites nationwide to offer abdominal cancer patients the option of a new treatment that combines removing the bulk of the tumor with intraperitoneal hyperthermic chemotherapy perfusion that has shown to be safe and effective and prolongs survival, especially for patients with colorectal or gastric malignancies.

Baylor researchers are also working on several fronts to learn more about prevention and treatment of various other gastrointestinal cancers. Among these studies:

  • Baylor is studying ways to help determine when surgery is a viable option for patients with certain stages and types of cancer of the esophagus, as well as gathering information regarding treatment options for patients with liver tumors.
  • Baylor is participating in a multi-center National Cancer Institute (NCI) -funded trial to determine whether safe drugs can prevent recurrent polyps. Baylor will begin its own trials of chemoprevention based upon these findings.
  • Baylor researchers have found that chronic inflammation alters the DNA mismatch repair system function, predisposing inflamed tissues to cancer. They have also found that there are characteristic signature mutations in cancers that develop in inflamed tissues and the mismatch repair system has undergone an inappropriate response to stress. Baylor researchers are working on ways to reverse this tissue response.
  • Scientists have collected data showing that when the polyomavirus, or JC virus, which is present in 80 percent of healthy individuals, triggers chromosomal instability, the result can be the development of colon cancer. The NIH has funded a grant with high priority for additional study of this subject.

Gene Therapy Research

The Mary Crowley Medical Research Center located on the campus of Baylor University Medical Center in the Baylor Charles A. Sammons Cancer Center is one of the nation's largest patient treatment sites for gene therapy and is currently developing a gene therapy approach for breast cancer patients and those with multiple myeloma in which the gene therapy is introduced to the cancerous cells. The modified cells can potentially stimulate anti-cancer immune responses.

Baylor's laboratory is also focusing on cancer-killing viruses for the targeted therapy of human cancer cells. These biologically engineered viruses replicate selectively in certain cancer cells, killing the cell.

Baylor researchers are developing a series of gene vaccines that induce anti-tumor immune activation for patients with advanced-stage, non-small cell lung cancer, which currently has a median survival of less than nine month.

Hematology/Lymphoma Research

The blood and marrow transplant research team at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas is researching ways to better match patients and donors, prevent complications and apply new therapies to treat cancers aggressively, while treating patients gently. In nearly a dozen institutional review board-approved research protocols, patients with leukemia, lymphoma, aplastic anemia, multiple myeloma and other cancers are participating in studies of treatments such as reduced-intensity (nonmyeloablative) transplants, cancer vaccines and radiopharmaceuticals.

Other studies focus on treatments for graft-versus-host disease, induction of immune tolerance, supportive care for transplant recipients and prevention and treatment of infectious complications.

As part of the NIH Clinical Trials Network, a consortium of major transplant centers, Baylor researchers have studied the effects of "mini-transplant" trials to test the use of lower doses of chemotherapy and radiation for patients undergoing conventional stem-cell transplants. Researchers are also working on a multi-center trial that compares peripheral blood stem cell transplants with bone marrow transplants from matched unrelated donors, as well as testing the safety and efficacy of treating myeloma with the radiopharmaceutical Holmium plus melphan, compared with melphalan alone.

Baylor lymphoma research is focusing on a cancer-specific vaccine for the treatment of follicular B-cell lymphoma and a drug for the treatment of relapsed indolent or mantle cell lymphoma. Through such trials Baylor is both improving quality of life for patients and lowering the cost of transplantation.

Prostate Cancer Research

Baylor participates in SELECT, the largest-ever prostate cancer prevention study that examines whether the dietary supplements Selenium and Vitamin E protect men against prostate cancer. Find more information on a research study at Baylor.

Skin Cancer Research

Baylor researchers are determining recurrence and survival rates for melanoma patients with specific metastases who have undergone removal of their tumor and had a sentinel node biopsy.

Researchers have also conducted clinical trials in patients with metastatic melanoma, proving that dendritic cell (immune cell) vaccines are of potential therapeutic value. Some patients developed partial responses following vaccination, while others developed tumor-specific T-cell immunity.

New trials are being prepared to increase the response rate with the hope of extending this approach to other malignant diseases, including hematological malignancies and prostate, colorectal and breast cancer.

Find more information on a research study at Baylor.