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Drummer Finds New Rhythm after CU Cancer Center Clinical Trial Bob Rupp is a drummer. He works with the best musicians in the world and he’s celebrated for his contributions to the music scene in the Metro Area. There is even a day in his honor in the City and County of Denver. But in 2015, it seemed like his drumming days were numbered. “I felt a lump in my throat,” says the 60-year-old Rupp. “It felt like a big, hard marble. I had 10 tumors in my brain, so I did 15 rounds of whole brain radiation, four targeted treatments, and then chemotherapy.” Approximately six months after his first round of treatment, Rupp started feeling worse and his


cancer had spread to his chest and arm pits so his doctors referred him to Daniel Bowles, MD, at


CU Cancer Center. Bowles specializes in head and neck cancer with particular expertise in salivary

In 2013, the lab of CU Cancer Center investigator

gland cancers.

Robert C. Doebele, MD, PhD showed that “fusions”

Bowles ordered next generation sequencing that revealed Rupp’s cancer had genetic change

involving the gene TRK drive some cases of non-

known as a HER2 amplification, which is known to play a role in the development of some breast

small cell lung cancer. Now five years later, clinical

cancers. There also are effective, established therapies for cancers involving HER2.

trials are testing the drug larotrectinib (formerly LOXO-101) against advanced cancers testing positive for TRK-fusion genes. Fifty-five patients ranging in age from 4 months to 76 years, representing 17 cancer types, tested positive for TRK fusion and were treated with

In August 2016, Rupp started a clinical trial targeting HER2 cancer. Since then, he has no signs of active cancer. “I am always on the move, I get right to work. I spend a lot of time with my wife. I do things that make me happy and I say yes to everything because it might be my last chance,” Rupp says. With the help of Dr. Bowles and the CU Cancer Center, Rupp hopes to say yes to new experiences for many years to come.

larotrectinib. Overall response rate was 75 percent (44 of 55 patients). At a median follow-up of 9.4 months, 86 percent of the patients with a response

Microbiome predicts blood infections in pediatric cancer patients

(38 of 44 patients) were continuing treatment or had

A study by CU Cancer Center investigators working at Children’s Hospital Colorado shows that

undergone surgery that was intended to be curative.

changes in the microbiome, the community of microorganisms that live within the human body,

No patients discontinued treatment due to adverse

may predict or even cause some bloodstream infections associated with cancer treatment.

side-effects. “I can’t tell you how gratifying it is to see our early

Samples and records were available for 42 patients, six of which went on to develop bloodstream infection. And it turned out that these six patients had significantly reduced

lab work with genes and cells leading to a treatment

microbiome diversity compared with patients who remained free of infection. Three of the six

that is literally saving patients’ lives,” Doebele says.

patients who developed bloodstream infections had been infected with types of bacteria that

“This is the dream of all scientists who choose to

were specifically abundant in their microbiome samples. “Our results add to a growing body of literature suggesting that the microbiome matters during cancer treatment,” says Bryan Nycz, third year medical student at the CU School of Medicine and the paper’s first author. “In this case, microbiome diversity and composition may help us identify patients at greater risk for blood infections.”



go into cancer research.”

THORACIC ONCOLOGY RESEARCH INITIATIVE For a decade, Robert C. Doebele, MD, PhD has been a central figure of lung cancer research in Colorado. Now he will lead the University of Colorado Cancer Center Thoracic Oncology Research Initiative, continuing the program’s international reputation for excellence while taking advantage of new opportunities in technology and understanding to guide the program’s growth in this era of targeted treatments against cancer. “We are delighted to have a scientist of Bob’s caliber leading our program. The basic discoveries from his lab fuel our ability to design, test and offer new therapies that are extending and even


saving lives right now. With his leadership, our already excellent lung cancer research program will be in good hands for many years to come,” says Dan Theodorescu, MD, PhD, director of CU Cancer Center.

3 C3: SPRING 2018

C3: Collaborating to Conquer Cancer Spring 2018 Edition  

The biannual magazine of the University of Colorado Cancer Center

C3: Collaborating to Conquer Cancer Spring 2018 Edition  

The biannual magazine of the University of Colorado Cancer Center