Welcoming the Annual Review of Cancer Biology

I’ve been looking forward to this series for a long time, and I’m glad to see the first volume fully published. Browse the table of contents for the Annual Review of Cancer Biology, Volume 1.

The autobiography by Harold Varmus, “How Tumor Virology Evolved into Cancer Biology and Transformed Oncology,” is a wonderful starting place for this series.  As Dr. Varmus tells his story, he introduces us to a field that constantly changing:

The story I will tell here is about the path that led to this new state of affairs. In that sense, this article differs from the kind of intellectual autobiography that commonly opens a volume of an Annual Reviews journal. Those articles, which I have read with pleasure over several decades, instructively track the development of new methods and the discovery of new facts within a single laboratory in the course of a senior scientist’s long career. I intend to provide my perspective on how a field of biological research—represented by this first volume of the Annual Review of Cancer Biology—began, grew, evolved, and prospered: not an impersonal account, but one that discusses my views of changing tides in cancer research more than the ebb and flow of people, ideas, and findings in my own laboratory.

ca1-varmusIt is a thoughtful and interesting history of not only Dr. Varmus’s career but how the field of cancer biology has developed.

Brandon Faubert & Ralph J. DeBerardinis introduced me to new methodologies in their article “Analyzing Tumor Metabolism In Vivo.” Working with live tumors is a new idea for me, and I was amazed at the wealth of information researchers are obtaining.

A comprehensive description of the pathways altered in cancer, the mechanisms by which they are perturbed, and the resulting metabolic vulnerabilities could drastically alter how we understand cancer and how we treat it. A key challenge is to apply systems that reliably report the metabolic features of intact tumors, particularly in patients. Although many current concepts in cancer metabolism derive from observations made in cultured cancer cell lines, research on the metabolic features of living tumors in mice and humans has begun to accelerate. We review some classical concepts in metabolic reprogramming, asking why metabolism is altered in cancer cells (i.e., the benefits of metabolic reprogramming to the cell) and how it is altered (i.e., the mechanisms of metabolic reprogramming). From there, we discuss approaches to investigating the metabolism of intact tumors and new principles in cancer biology arising from these studies.

Last on my reading list is “Resisting Resistance” by Ivana Bozic & Martin A. Nowak because I wanted to know more about the difficulties with targeted therapies and what the latest research looks like.  What I discovered was that I’m going to need to dust off my biology textbooks to refresh my background, and that these therapies can evolve resistance.

Targeted therapies, immunotherapies, and improved chemotherapies are being developed to reduce the suffering and mortality that come from human cancer. Although these approaches, and in particular combinations of them, are expected to succeed eventually to a large degree, they all suffer one obstacle: Populations of replicating cells move away—typically in a high-dimensional space—from any opposing selection pressure they encounter. They evolve resistance. It is possible, however, to develop a precise mathematical understanding of the problem and to design treatment strategies that prevent resistance if possible or manage resistance otherwise.

Suzanne K. Moses is Annual Reviews’ Senior Electronic Content Coordinator. For 15+ years, she has played a central role in the publication of Annual Reviews’ online articles. Not a single page is posted online without first being proofed and quality checked by Suzanne.

Annual Review of Cancer Biology – now available online

We are delighted to announce the launch of the Annual Review of Cancer Biology, the 47th in our collection of highly cited review journals. It seems appropriate to focus on Cancer Research, a field that is deeply linked to the investigation of central themes in the life sciences, during our 85th year of service to the research community. It is also a natural fit for the interdisciplinary coverage of our portfolio of existing journals.

Co-Editors Dr. Tyler Jacks (Director of the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT) and Dr. Charles L. Sawyers (Chair of the Human Oncology and Pathogenesis Program at Memorial Sloan Kettering) said:

“Cancer Biology covers a wide range of disciplines that are converging to provide a deep understanding of the cancer cell and the various biological and physiological processes that contribute to tumor initiation and progression. These advances—coupled with the application of an increasing array of powerful technologies—have paved the way for the development of numerous new medicines that are greatly benefiting cancer patients.”

Annual Review of Cancer Biology cover icon

Their introduction to the first volume summarizes the goals of this new publication. The first volume of the Annual Review of Cancer Biology contains more than twenty reviews that address the basic mechanisms of cancer development and the translation to therapeutic strategies today and in the future. The journal scope includes three broad themes to cover a broad spectrum of the rapidly moving cancer biology field: Cancer Cell Biology, Tumorigenesis and Cancer Progression, and Translational Cancer Science.

The first volume also contains a review by Dr. Harold Varmus (Weill Cornell Medical College) entitled How Tumor Virology Evolved into Cancer Biology and Transformed Oncology (published Open Access). Dr. Sawyers expanded, “Cancer research has become deeply linked to investigation of the central themes in the life sciences. Dr. Varmus’s work has been important to the evolution of our interdisciplinary science.”

Tyler Jacks, MIT.

Dr. Jacks is also involved in the Cancer Moonshot, where he serves as the Scientific Panel Co-Chair. Former US Vice-President Joe Biden updated attendees of SXSW on March 12th with progress of the Moonshot. To learn more about Dr. Jacks’ dedication to cancer research, check out his presentation at TEDxCambridge: Tyler Jacks (Life lessons from 34 years of fighting cancer.)

Charles L. Sawyers, MSKCC.

Dr. Sawyers is involved in Stand up to Cancer, a groundbreaking initiative created to accelerate innovative cancer research and quickly provide patients with access to new therapies in the hope of saving lives. He is the co-leader of the Scientific Research Dream Team on Precision Therapy for Advanced Prostate Cancer.

This journal is now available online (March 6th, 2017). If you are a journalist, writer, or blogger who wants access to this and/or other Annual Reviews journals, please email us. The official Press Release is available in our Press Center.

Annual Reviews is a nonprofit publisher dedicated to synthesizing and integrating knowledge for the progress of science and the benefit of society.


Seven Annual Reviews Authors Win Breakthrough Prizes

The 2016 Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics was awarded to Kip S. Thorne, of the California Institute of Technology (CalTech), and Rainer Weiss, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. They lead the LIGO Project with CalTech’s Ronald W.P. Drever, also a recipient of the prize, and they share this honor with the other 1012 who were part of this research. Together they were the first to detect the gravitational waves predicted by Albert Einstein.

Find Dr. Thorne’s article in the 1972 Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics:

Find Dr. Weiss’ article in the 1980 Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics:

Five Breakthrough Prizes in Life Sciences were awarded in 2017, to the following laureates:

Stephen Elledge, of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Harvard Medical School, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, “for elucidating how eukaryotic cells sense and respond to damage in their DNA and providing insights into the development and treatment of cancer.”

Dr. Elledge is scheduled to write an article for the 2017 Annual Review of Cancer Biology.

Harry F. Noller, of the University of California, Santa Cruz, “for discovering the centrality of RNA in forming the active centers of the ribosome, the fundamental machinery of protein synthesis in all cells, thereby connecting modern biology to the origin of life and also explaining how many natural antibiotics disrupt protein synthesis.”

Find Dr. Noller’s articles in the Annual Review of Biochemistry:

Roeland Nusse, of Stanford University and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, “for pioneering research on the Wnt pathway, one of the crucial intercellular signaling systems in development, cancer and stem cell biology.”

Find Dr. Nusse’s articles in the Annual Review of Cell and Developmental Biology:

• Yoshinori Ohsumi, of the Tokyo Institute of Technology, “for elucidating autophagy, the recycling system that cells use to generate nutrients from their own inessential or damaged components.” This comes two months after Dr. Ohsumi won the 2016 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

Find Dr. Ohsumi’s articles in the Annual Review of Cell and Developmental Biology:

Huda Y. Zoghbi, of the Baylor College of Medicine, Texas Children’s Hospital, and Howard Hughes Medical Institute, “for discoveries of the genetic causes and biochemical mechanisms of spinocerebellar ataxia and Rett syndrome, findings that have provided insight into the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative and neurological diseases.”

Find Dr. Zoghby’s articles in the Annual Review of Neuroscience, the Annual Review of Physiology, and the Annual Review of Genomics and Human Genetics: