Recent research shows that radiation and chemotherapy, both standard treatments for most cancers, leave behind dying cancer cells, or "cellular debris." Over the past year, Dr. Panigrahy and his team have demonstrated that during the course of these treatments, the cellular debris can actually trigger tumor-promoting inflammation and the growth of microscopic cancer cells. Their studies show that these traditional cancer treatments are a "double-edged sword"—the very treatment used to cure the cancer is, in fact, also helping it survive. Dr. Panigrahy and his team believe that this cancer growth could be prevented by stimulating the body's naturally-occurring molecules to intervene and "resolve" the inflammation. Their methods to enhance the resolvin pathways are currently in clinical trials for inflammatory diseases, and in the 2019-2020 year, will turn their focus their research on the use of this type of approach for pediatric brain tumors and other cancers. Additionally, this year this team will study pro-resolution lipids called protectins as a way to prevent and treat medulloblastoma, glioblastoma, and other brain cancers via stimulation of resolution of inflammation as well as the combination of resolvins and immunotherapy to synergistically inhibit cancer. This coming year, the Panigrahy laboratory will investigate new pro-resolution lipids called maresins to prevent experimental cancer by clearing tumor debris. “Debris” from non-tumorigenic cells, such as blood vessels and immune cells, generated by steroids, cyclosporine, statins, tamoxifen, or chemotherapy can paradoxically stimulate tumor growth that can be blocked by maresins. These findings also provide new information on why these drugs can increase a patient’s risk of cancer.
*This research at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is supported by CU Kids at Heart fundraising efforts separate from the Team’s Boston Marathon activities.