Cedars-Sinai Cancer 2023: Transforming Research, Patient Care
New Annual Report Highlights the Power of Convergent Science to Explore Complex Cancer Questions
Cedars-Sinai Cancer’s commitment to convergent science—the deep melding of computational, physical engineering and biological sciences—is evident throughout its 2023 Annual Report. The newly released report highlights clinical and research experts from different cancer specialties merging their varied perspectives to create innovative screening tools and treatments that lead to better outcomes for patients.
“When we work together through truly integrated, side-by-side collaboration, we have the opportunity for paradigm-shifting advances by virtue of their synergism with each other,” wrote Dan Theodorescu, MD, PhD, director of Cedars-Sinai Cancer and the PHASE ONE Distinguished Chair, in the report’s introduction.
“Best of all, convergent science is inextricably patient-focused. Patient needs, coupled with feedback and engagement of our Community Advisory Board, define the tracks of research on which investigators train their efforts.”
Last year, oncologists at Cedars-Sinai Cancer, ranked among the top institutions in the nation for cancer care by U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Hospitals 2022-23,” treated patients with more than 60 types of cancer at Cedars-Sinai locations throughout Greater Los Angeles.
Collaboration: Imaging and Artificial Intelligence
Cedars-Sinai Cancer is collaborating with the Cedars-Sinai Biomedical Imaging Research Institute, combining enhanced imaging techniques with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning for improved cancer screening and monitoring of disease progression.
In a pilot study, investigators are using MRI scans of children with neurofibromatosis, a cancer predisposition syndrome, to identify biomarkers that can predict cancer risk. Investigators believe these biomarkers, enhanced by the power of artificial intelligence, could revolutionize cancer prevention and management.
A higher-resolution MRI recently developed at Cedars-Sinai, combined with AI/machine learning, is also allowing clinicians to find the precise locations of prostate tumors, identify their characteristics, and offer each patient personalized treatment options.
AI also is part of efforts to promote clinical trial enrollment for patients with cancer—especially among minorities and underrepresented populations such as the local Korean-American and LGBTQ+ communities. During 2022, patients at Cedars-Sinai Cancer had access to approximately 200 clinical trials, and increasing enrollment among underrepresented populations is a Cedars-Sinai goal.
Collaboration: Wearables and Virtual Reality
Cedars-Sinai clinician-investigators are using data from wearables, apps and home monitors to identify patients who are at higher risk of developing complications from cancer treatments and are candidates for early intervention that could lead to better outcomes. They also are using cancer patients’ wearable devices to tailor postoperative exercise programs during recovery from surgery.
With funding from the National Cancer Institute, Cedars-Sinai Cancer physician-scientists are also investigating the potential of immersive virtual reality technology to affect pain levels, opioid use and activity levels for patients with gastrointestinal cancer.
Collaboration: Precision Oncology and Your Molecular Twin
The Molecular Twin initiative at Cedars-Sinai, designed to personalize cancer treatment by creating virtual replicas based on cancer patients’ biological samples, has expanded to include pancreas, breast and lung cancer. With the goal of eventually including all major tumor types, in addition to personalizing treatments clinically, the initiative is creating a database of cancer-specific genes and tumor protein samples that will be available to investigators worldwide. Applying AI technology to imaging and pathology, combined with DNA and RNA information from patients’ samples, the Molecular Twin initiative has the potential to democratize precision oncology globally by developing precision medicine approaches at a cost that is affordable worldwide.
Cedars-Sinai Cancer is also working to train the field’s emerging researchers as part of The Convergent Science Virtual Cancer Center, which mentors early-career investigators at top institutions nationwide. A pilot partnership between Cedars-Sinai and select California State University campuses is also exposing undergraduate students from groups historically underrepresented in cancer research to the work of scientists at Cedars-Sinai.
Collaboration: Screening and Treatment
A new high-risk BRCA previvor multidisciplinary clinic, opened last year at Cedars-Sinai, gives BRCA-positive patients screening access and risk-reducing prevention strategies in a single visit. Mutations of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes predispose patients to pancreas, prostate, ovarian and breast cancers.
A collaboration among investigators from the Cedars-Sinai Department of Biomedical Sciences, Cedars-Sinai Cancer, and colleagues in bioinformatics, cell biology, and molecular biology has led to creation of a nanotechnology- and virus-based drug-delivery approach that crosses the blood-brain barrier. This facilitates targeted treatment of triple-negative breast cancer that has metastasized to the brain.
Click here to learn more about convergent science at Cedars-Sinai Cancer in the complete Annual Report.
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