Friday Frontline: Cancer Updates, Research and Education on November 8, 2019


From new data released about CRISPR technology’s safety to Will Smith sharing his colonoscopy with the world, here’s what is making headlines in the cancer space this week.

Researchers from the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania announced this week what they call promising results of an early clinical trial that’s examining the safety of the gene editing technique called CRISPR. The ongoing phase 1b study includes three patients — two with multiple myeloma and one with sarcoma — who were treated in January, April and August. The first patient has been followed for at least six months.

CRISPR technology allows scientists to make very precise changes in DNA. Based on the study’s findings, researchers believe these edited T cells are safe to infuse in patients and are functional.

Researchers hope to enroll and treat more patients with sarcoma, myeloma or melanoma as part of the trial.

Actor Will Smith is spreading awareness about the importance of colonoscopies by sharing his journey with the world. In August, the then 50-year-old filmed his entire colonoscopy experience and posted it as vlog this week.

The team of doctors found and removed a precancerous polyp, which they explained is associated with 95% of colon cancer cases. Smith’s doctor recommended he be screened in the next 2-3 years versus the normal 10-year screening.

Smith ended his vlog by telling viewers “Health is our greatest wealth.”

Vanderpump Rules star Ariana Madix celebrated one year of being cancer free earlier this week. Last year, Madix had surgery to remove melanoma, which she found after getting a mole tested.

She revealed the news in an Instagram post offering advice to those who follow her on social media: “Moral of the story: if you’re unsure of something on your body, GET CHECKED and then GET CHECKED AGAIN!”

Madix will see a specialist every six months to get checked.

A 18-year-old who won the Teen Tournament on “Jeopardy!” in June has decided to donate a portion of his $100,000 winnings to pancreatic cancer research in honor of longtime host Alex Trebek. Avi Gupta, who is a freshman at Columbia University, donated $10,314 — a nod to Pi — to the Oregon Health & Science University’s Knight Cancer Institute.

Trebek announced in March that he is fighting stage 4 pancreatic cancer. He is currently undergoing another round of chemotherapy.

Gupta said he was “devastated” by Trebek’s diagnosis but hopes to raise awareness and funds to help with early detection research.

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