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A Message from our Director, Spring 2013

Welcome to the spring edition of the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center's electronic newsletter. I'm pleased to be able to share with you some of the interesting and exciting ways that the UMCCC continues to make great strides in understanding, diagnosing, preventing and treating cancer.

Max S. Wicha, M.D.
Max Wicha, M.D., Director of the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center

Breast cancers can be broken down into those that test positive for the protein HER2, which promotes the growth of cancer cells, and those that test negative. But our new research has found that HER2 plays a role even in breast cancers that would traditionally be categorized as HER2-negative -- and that the drug Herceptin, which targets HER2, may have an even greater role for treating breast cancer and preventing its spread.

In this issue you'll also read about a decade of work that has gone into better understanding the role of RNA in cancer cells. You'll find a story about how U-M cancer researchers and engineers teamed up to figure out a way to capture tiny tumor cells circulating in the blood by getting them to stick to nanometer-deep grooves on glass plates. And one about how our DNA sequencing program -- called MI-ONCOSEQ -- is helping to discover new genetic mutations in tumors that may be targeted with new therapies being tested in clinical trials. You can also read about two exciting, football-related events this summer that will raise money for cancer research and patient support programs.

Additionally, you'll discover the story of Matthew Vogel, a young patient with an untreatable rare cancer who gave his entire college fund to the research of sinonasal undifferentiated carcinoma that cut short his life, and other rare skull base tumors. "I thought it was about the most generous thing I'd heard in my entire life," recalls Lawrence J. Marentette, M.D., Matt's surgeon and the director of U-M's Cranial Base Program.

Please remember, none of the advancements you'll read about in this issue would be possible without the support of people like you. On behalf of the entire cancer community at U-M, thank you for your continued interest in our work and your support of our mission.

Together, we are conquering cancer.

Max S. Wicha, M.D.
Director, University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center

P. S. We'd like your feedback on this newsletter. Please send questions or comments to


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