Welcome to OncoBites!

Here at OncoBites, a team of graduate scientists and Ph.D.s with a passion for cancer research has gathered to share cutting-edge research with a wider audience. We understand that jargon and isolated professional communities have made science feel inaccessible to most people, even people considering the field. In addition, paywalls on articles can make trying…

New frontiers in breast cancer management

Tamara Vital Over the last several decades, the survival rate for most kinds of breast cancer have increased due to earlier detection, new targeted therapies, and combination treatment modalities. As we’ve discussed before at Oncobites, cancer is not a single disease. It turns out that multiple distinct subtypes exist even within the category of “breast…

Cancer: a many headed beast

Emily B. Harrison, Ph.D. Every year more than one million women are diagnosed with breast cancer. Tumors are most often discovered through screening techniques like self-checks, breast exams, or mammograms. Immediately, plans are made to extract the tumor either by removing a small area around the tumor, a lumpectomy, or the entire breast in a…

The Immune Landscape of Cancer

Morgan McSweeney  Cancer is not a single disease. It is a broad term that describes a number of related conditions in which cells’ growth has begun to bypass the usual checks and balances. To study the spectrum of cancers, the National Institutes of Health have established The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), a collaborative project aimed…

Immunotherapy in Pancreatic Cancer: Does Bacteria hold the answer?

Manisit Das Your gut is crawling with bacteria, despite your devoted hygiene practices. Disgusting for your sophisticated self, isn’t it? Surprising as it is, over the course of evolution our bodies tolerated the microbial communities in our body, even cherished them. Hundreds of thousands of bacteria and other microorganisms call us home and play a…

Cancer Vaccines: Educating Your Immune System Since the 1800s

Sara Musetti Historians love to say that those who do not know their history are doomed to repeat it. In science, failing to remember and understand our history means that we may need to make the same discoveries again and again. This appears to be the case for cancer immunotherapy, a new branch of research…

We’ve got our first FDA Approved Immunotherapy: How does it work?

Elizabeth Wayne, PhD Everything you need to fight cancer is inside of you. Well sort of. This is the inspirational way that I like to think of cancer immunotherapy. It’s using your own immune cells to fight cancer. We do this by trying to get immune cells to recognize cancer as a foreign pathogen, thereby…

Cancer Epigenetics: More Twists and Turns in Tumors

Tamara Vital We’re still just getting started here at Oncobites, but the story is already clear: Cancer is complicated. So far Morgan has covered the underlying risk factors of cancer— the environmental and lifestyle factors that influence cancer development. Sara has explained that cancer arises in cells that acquire mutations in the genes that control…

In cancer, your own lymph nodes turn against you

Emily B. Harrison, PhD Perhaps the only time most people consider their lymph nodes is at a doctor’s office. Often, when examining you, a physician will touch the sides of your neck, feeling for enlarged lymph nodes. In this case, swollen nodes indicate that your body is mounting an immune response. This immune response is…

What exactly is cancer?

Sara Musetti I came to a realization this week. Here at OncoBites, we made a cancer research blog and then… forgot to tell our readers what cancer is. And I know, most of you reading are thinking “I know what cancer is!” because you read about it all the time. And maybe, if you’re a…

Cancer – how much of it is preventable?

Morgan McSweeney What percent of cancer cases are due to lifestyle choices or environmental conditions, and are therefore potentially preventable? Take a guess: 10%, 25%, 75%, or 90%? A paper by Anand et. al set out to answer exactly this question nearly ten years ago, pulling data from large-scale epidemiological studies across a large range…

Engineering aggressive breast cancer subtype may allow more treatment choices

Manisit Das Breast cancer may sound like a single disease, but it is not. There are many subtypes of the disease, which guide the course of disease progression and treatment strategy. One of these subtypes, referred to as triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is particularly difficult to treat. Recently, researchers at Lund University, Sweden identified a…

From bacteria in your gut to cancer in your skin, everything is connected

Sara Musetti The word “bacteria” is often accompanied by a nose wrinkled in disgust and thoughts of infection and disease. Even though we have as many microbial cells as human cells within each of us—that’s right, we’re 50% bacteria—most people still find bacteria something to avoid. However, recent research into the gut microbiome, the ecosystem…