Katherine Crew, MD and Richard Ha, MD are researching ways to predict relapses in a particular subset of breast cancer patients.

Drs. Crew and Ha are using convolutional neural networks, or CNNs, to assess the likelihood of recurrence in patients who have been treated for breast cancer. CNNs are intricate data analysis systems, using mathematical and visual inputs, that can produce results with greater speed and detail than even the most accomplished diagnostician. As this work is refined, the hope is that these analyses can more accurately predict and help doctors discover and treat recurrences in women with hormone receptor-positive operable breast cancer.

Piero Dalerba, MD is researching biomarkers in breast cancer, which could lead to earlier detection, more precise treatment, and better outcomes. 
Dr. Dalerba and his colleagues have identified a biomarker (that is, an abnormal molecule in the blood or tissue) which is strongly associated with genetic mutations linked to breast cancer. (The gene in question is known as BRCA1, or breast cancer gene 1; the biomarker that Dr. Dalerba is studying is called SOX10.) This knowledge may prove useful for a number of reasons: the equipment necessary to detect SOX10 is readily available in most hospitals and labs, and it could allow clinicians to quickly identify those with the mutation, and assess their risk. Genetic counseling, genetic testing and risk-reducing surgery may prove beneficial to some who test for this biomarker, which in preliminary testing is outperforming other biomarkers, in diagnostic accuracy, for the same purpose. Velocity is funding this research and allowing Dr. Dalerba and his colleagues to assemble the data necessary to pursue a larger, longer-term study. 

Gulam Manji, MD is developing more effective treatments for pancreatic cancer patients who may not be eligible for surgical interventions.

Pancreatic cancer is particularly challenging to oncologists because it has historically proven resistant to detection – meaning by the time a patient receives a pancreatic cancer diagnosis, there is a strong chance that the disease may have accelerated significantly. Dr. Manji is working on a combination of interventions – using both chemotherapy and immunotherapy – in a preclinical model of pancreatic cancer, and the results are promising. This preclinical pilot study involved 10 patients; given its results, the clinical trial is now expanding to a study of 112 patients

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