AML researcher wins prestigious early-career award

Jeffrey TynerTyner and Ma's award entry essays were published in the July 2, 2014 edition of Science Translational Medicine.

What makes Tyner’s work stand apart?

Tyner's work is distinguished by analyzing data on genetic mutations in patients' cancer cells and simultaneously assessing the manner by which tumor cells with those mutations respond to a variety of gene-targeted drugs. This approach helps advance care in a variety of ways:

  • It more accurately determines which aberrations in the patients’ genes are most lethal
  • It determines how those aberrations could potentially be targeted with a precision treatment
  • It also allows for a better understanding of the biology of each patient's disease
  • In some cases, it identified new subtypes of cancer

What are the potential benefits of Tyner’s research?

Tyner's peer-reviewed studies in Cancer Cell in 2012 and the New England Journal of Medicine in 2014 demonstrate the benefits of this research approach. The latter study pinpointed a cause of two types of leukemia and demonstrated the possibility that these diseases could be treated with existing FDA-approved drugs. As a result, a clinical trial will soon open at the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute to test ruxolitinib in patients with chronic neutrophilic leukemia (CNL) that is driven by mutations in a gene called colony stimulating factor 3 receptor (CSF3R).

"Jeffrey Tyner's work is making a significant contribution to the advancement of personalized cancer medicine. His approach makes it possible to achieve new discoveries in months that used to take decades," said Brian Druker, M.D., director of the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute.

Improving treatment options for AML patients

Tyner's methodology forms the backbone of Beat AML, a pioneering collaboration launched in 2013 between The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) and the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute to vastly accelerate development of treatments for patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Tyner leads the industry collaborators that are part of Beat AML and integral to its ability to discover new treatments for the disease. AML is a particularly devastating blood cancer, with less than 25 percent of newly diagnosed patients surviving beyond five years. It causes more than 10,000 deaths a year in the United States, and treatment options largely have not changed in the past 30 years.

Beat AML creates a profile of the possible genetic drivers of AML by conducting a deep genomic sequencing analysis of participating AML patients' samples. As information from the samples is analyzed by the Knight Cancer Institute's bioinformatics team to determine potentially relevant mutations, researchers simultaneously test the response of patients' leukemia cells to different drugs and combinations of drugs. This dual process on patient samples better equips scientists to confirm that they have correctly identified a genetic driver of the disease. It not only speeds progress in understanding AML, but more efficiently determines ways to stop the disease and block potential recurrence.

Tyner said his lab will likely deploy a similar model for drug development for other types of cancer in the future. "It's an honor to have this work recognized by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and it is another strong incentive to perform research that will improve therapeutic options and clinical outcomes for patients."