Meet the Researchers

These researchers have dedicated their careers to finding new treatments and cures for people with cancer.

From left to right: Menekia, a patient with T-cell lymphoma, smiling facing forward and wearing a blue tie-dye shirt. On the right, her doctor, Salvia Jain, MD, is also smiling, and is wearing a pinkish-red shirt.
Salvia Jain, MD, Crafts New Treatment Plans to Help Patients Conquer Lymphoma
Using support from a 2013 Conquer Cancer Young Investigator Award (YIA), Dr. Jain is researching new therapies for patients with T-cell lymphomas, a type of blood cancer. Her work is helping Menekia, a patient with relapsed peripheral T-cell lymphoma, to access a better care plan.

Menekia, a patient with relapsed peripheral T-cell lymphoma, needs access to a nuanced care plan for a better chance of survival. Her oncologist, Dr. Jain of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, is ready to help. 

Treatments In Tandem

Dr. Jain screened several T-cell lymphoma compounds to determine the most effective drugs for further testing. Dr. Jain and her team were able to craft promising treatment combinations for clinical trials focused on patients whose lymphomas are resistant to conventional chemotherapy. One such pairing was romidepsin, an HDAC inhibitor (a chemical that blocks cancer-causing genes from behaving properly), with pralatrexate, an anti-folate agent (a type of anti-cancer drug that stops cells from using folic acid to make cancerous DNA).

The only way to make a meaningful clinical impact is to innovate, collaborate and communicate. This is particularly relevant for a rare disease like T-cell lymphoma."

“HDAC inhibitor and pralatrexate are FDA-approved for patients with relapsed T-cell lymphoma but have very low responses as single agents. We hypothesized that their combination would be more effective and indeed that was the case,” says Dr. Jain. “Enrollment of a few patients in this trial allowed them to gain durable remissions and helped bridge them to more curative strategies."

Dr. Jain's YIA research led to the publication of pivotal manuscripts that helped bring many novel treatment combinations to phase I and II clinical trials for patients with T-cell lymphomas. Beyond the romidepsin and HDAC inhibitor combination, she also tested two additional pairings: MUC1-C inhibitor (a compound that blocks cancer cells from growing) with hypomethylating agents (drugs that inhibit cancerous DNA from expressing itself) and anti-CD47 antagonist with anti-CCR4 antibody (both substances that suppress cancer-causing genes).

“Each of these combinations has helped a subgroup of patients to overcome resistance to traditional therapies, achieve durable clinical responses and traverse challenging times in their clinical course,” says Dr. Jain.

Promising Future for Patients

As Dr. Jain’s research on combination therapies continues, her next steps include studying the effectiveness of emerging single-drug care plans. She was recently recruited to Massachusetts General Hospital to lead their translational T-cell lymphoma research program. Dr. Jain now oversees a team of four researchers in the lab and in clinical trials.

Her patient, Menekia, is conquering cancer thanks to the treatment regimens Dr. Jain’s research uncovered.

“We recently showed that single agents are not inferior to established multi-agent regimens for patients with relapsed T-cell lymphoma. In fact, single treatments could be a great tool in bridging patients to potentially curative strategies such as stem cell transplantation,” says Dr. Jain. “We were able to treat Menekia effectively with one of these single drugs, helping her attain a durable remission.”

We were able to treat Menekia effectively with one of these single drugs, helping her attain a durable remission.
Dr. Salvia Jain