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Issue highlights
Pioneering Advances in BMT
John McCarty, M.D., explains Robin Roberts' BMT therapy
Life after lymphoma
The day Iva Petrosino learned her cancer was in remission was almost five years ago. A bone marrow transplant at Massey in 2007 helped her overcome her non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. How is she doing today?
View this short video for the next chapter in her story.
Upcoming events

For a full listing of Massey events, visit the online calendar.
Saturday, Nov. 3
Masquerade for Massey


November 2012 marks Kaity Kasper's 10th anniversary since learning that her Hodgkin's lymphoma was in remission!


Help her celebrate and kick-off her efforts to raise more than $25,000 as part of the 2013 Massey Challenge. There will be beverages, food, an auction, plus music and dancing.


More information.


Saturday, Nov. 10
An Evening with the Richmond Symphony to benefit VCU Massey Cancer Center and Temple Beth El


Spend an evening with the Richmond Symphony conducted by Steven Smith, music director. This joint fundraiser will conclude with an elegant champagne and dessert reception.


More information.


Wednesday, Nov. 28
The 10th Annual Massey Opening Night Shopping Spree at The Bizarre
Bring your friends and join other Massey supporters for an evening of shopping fun!

Shoppers will have exclusive access to all four buildings full of exhibitors from all over the U.S. selling unique gifts, clothing, gourmet foods and decorative accessories.


More information


Saturday, Dec. 8
The Richmond Christmas Gala!

Join the Massey Alliance for the Richmond Christmas Gala, a holiday celebration featuring live music, dancing, hors d'oeuvres and an open bar to raise awareness and funds for Massey's cancer research.


More information


Issue: 8
November 2012

November is National Marrow Awareness Month, which aims to educate the country about the need for volunteers to become marrow donors and join the National Marrow Donor Registry.


Patients with diseases such as hematologic malignancies (blood cancers) like leukemias, lymphomas and multiple myeloma sometimes need a bone marrow transplant (BMT). Bone marrow is the spongy material that is found inside the bones. In the marrow are stem cells. In some transplants, the patient's own stem cells are harvested (removed from the blood) and given back to the patient after the patient receives high doses of chemotherapy and occasionally radiation therapy. In other cases, however, the patient needs to have a donor provide the stem cells. The donor can be a relative (related donor) or someone unknown to the patient (unrelated donor). Seventy percent of bone marrow patients do not have a matching donor in their family. So the more volunteers in the Registry, the greater the chance of finding a matching donor, and the more patients who can be offered the potential for longer, healthier lives. Click the logo and join the Registry.

Be the Match 
Research at VCU Massey Cancer Center is discovering new therapies for blood cancers, including vast improvements in the bone marrow transplant process that have led to safer transplants and have made transplants possible for more patients.

Innovative therapy for leukemia


A study led by Massey's Amir Toor, M.D., has demonstrated that the use of antibodies derived from rabbits can improve the survival and relapse outcomes of leukemia and myelodysplasia patients receiving a transplant of stem cells from an unrelated donor. Unrelated stem cell transplants typically have poorer outcomes than transplants of stem cells from related donors. However, administering rabbit antibodies before an unrelated transplant may make the transplant as effective as a related transplant. Read more.

Improved treatments for lymphoma
Beata Holkova, M.D.

Clinical trials currently being conducted at Massey are also helping to drive better outcomes for patients with lymphoma. Beata Holkova, M.D., is leading studies to find a drug combination that will help patients who suffer from forms of lymphoma that are resistant to conventional therapies. Her work in fighting B-cell lymphomas was recently recognized by an award from the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology Foundation. Read more.

New strategies for killing multiple myeloma cells


Two studies at Massey are making headway in finding effective therapies for multiple myeloma, a particularly difficult-to-treat form of blood cancer. 


Steven Grant, M.D.

Researchers led by Massey scientist Steven Grant, M.D., have reported a dramatic increase in multiple myeloma cell death caused by a combination of the drugs obatoclax and flavopiridol. Obatoclax works by disabling proteins that prevent cancer cells from undergoing a form of cell suicide known as apoptosis. Flavopiridol blocks the growth of cancer cells in addition to reducing levels of proteins that hinder apoptosis. The two drugs work together through different mechanisms to promote the death of cancer cells. Read more.


Another drug combination may improve stem cell transplant outcomes in multiple myeloma patients. The novel therapy being developed by Massey researchers led by Amir Toor, M.D., is based on the powerful idea that killing multiple myeloma cells is a matter of making the cells easier for the immune system to detect and attack.


Amir Toor, M.D.

The multi-phased therapy first treats patients with a combination of the drugs azacitidine and lenalidomide. Azacitidine forces the cancer cells to express proteins that immune system cells recognize as foreign. Lenalidomide then boosts the production of those immune system cells.


In the next phase, these immune system cells are extracted from the patient and stored. Then the patient undergoes a stem cell transplant to restore the stem cells' normal function. In the final step, the immune system cells are returned to the patient.

Now better able to recognize the cancer cells as foreign, these immune system cells can potentially protect against a recurrence of multiple myeloma following the transplant. Read more.


When ABC Good Morning America television anchor Robin Roberts publicly shared her diagnosis of myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS or pre-leukemia) and her need for a bone marrow transplant, ABC WRIC 8 turned to John McCarty, M.D., director of Massey's BMT program, to provide expert commentary and to Massey MDS survivor Beverly Gunn to share her personal transplant story. View video.

About Massey's BMT program
John McCarty, M.D., director of Massey's Bone Marrow Transplant program
Massey's Bone Marrow Transplant Program is the largest and most comprehensive BMT provider in Virginia. BMT medical director John McCarty, M.D., explains to CBS WTVR 6 the program's services. View video

Do all bone marrow donations involve surgery? 

Some marrow donations involve surgery, but the majority of them do not. Today, a transplant patient's doctor most often requests a peripheral blood stem cell donation, which is non-surgical. In each case, donors typically go home the same day they donate.


To learn more and/or become a donor, visit Be the Match.


Momentum is published by VCU Massey Cancer Center.

David Raine, Jr.

If you have questions about cancer, cancer treatments or survivorship, please ASK MASSEY.

To learn more about VCU Massey Cancer Center, please visit our Web site at