Innovations Summer 2022 - Page 8



Investigator-initiated trials are “ homegrown ” ideas from researchers who are active in labs and clinical settings . Jared Acoba , MD , and Jami Fukui , MD , community physicians , are currently conducting investigator-initiated studies to improve outcomes for their patients with liver and breast cancer .

To identify new treatment interventions for patients living with liver cancer , Acoba ’ s study uses immunotherapy agents to treat advanced hepatocellular carcinoma — a type of liver cancer . For more information about this study , contact Erin Fukaya at EFukaya @ cc . hawaii . edu or ( 808 ) 691-8577 .
Fukui is conducting a lifestyle intervention for breast cancer survivors within two years of diagnosis , who are interested in improving their quality of life through exercise . To learn more about the breast cancer study , contact Matthew Toyama at MToyama @ cc . hawaii . edu or ( 808 ) 564-3996 .

The Healthy Diet and Lifestyle Study II , led by

Loïc Le Marchand , MD , PhD , and Carol Boushey , PhD , MPH , RD , investigates whether changes in dietary habits , along with regular physical activity , affects the amount of fat stored in the body . This information may provide an approach to reducing risk of chronic diseases , like cancer , related to excessive weight gain during adulthood . For more information about this study , email hdls2 @ cc . hawaii . edu or call ( 808 ) 237-3901 .

Michele Carbone , MD , PhD has been at the forefront of genetics research in Hawai ‘ i , and his work strongly resonates with people around the world . Dubbed the Gene Hunter of Hawai ‘ i in a May 2022 American Association for Cancer Research article , Carbone took a deep dive into mesothelioma research in 1997 , exploring villages in Cappadocia , Turkey , where a malignant mesothelioma epidemic caused half of all deaths . Initially , erionite , a cancer-causing mineral , was thought to be the cause of mesothelioma in these villages .

To solve this mystery , Carbone secured a $ 10 million grant from the National Cancer Institute ( NCI ), and put together a multidisciplinary team . Working with local doctors in Cappadocia , the team identified a mutated gene that was causing an increase in mesothelioma among certain families . Carbone named the disease the BAP1 cancer syndrome .
Carbone ’ s research led to identifying several U . S . families with the mesothelioma predisposition . Currently , Carbone , along with Haining Yang , MD , PhD , are studying 98 American families affected by the BAP1 cancer syndrome . In 2019 , the NCI opened two clinical trials for patients and families carrying the BAP1 mutation .
In addition , Carbone and his team , along with Environmental Protection Agency scientists , investigated whether the presence of erionite in the U . S . posed a public health threat if disturbed during development or mining . In North Dakota , gravel containing erionite was used to pave rural roads and , when kicked up by traffic , posed a public health risk . These efforts resulted in a state-wide policy to ban the use of gravel sourced from areas that contain erionite .
The BAP1 cancer syndrome discovery of increased risk for developing mesothelioma has led to studies on how the syndrome also affects other cancers . Carbone and Yang lead an international team to help identify preventive , early detection , and therapeutic strategies for cancers affected by BAP1 cancer syndrome , nationally , and internationally .
To read the full story , visit : go . hawaii . edu / GTx
Michele Carbone , MD , PhD