News from the Lee Jones Lab
Kicking Cancer is back in Greenwich, CT on Saturday, June 16th and all proceeds benefit Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center ("MSK"). We are excited to support the The Lee Jones Lab and their efforts in fighting cancer with exercise.
LWDF supports a unique research program at MSK called the Exercise-Oncology Service. The ExOnc Service is exclusively focused on the conduct of research investigating the effects of exercise in patients either at high risk or with cancer. This research program is led by Dr. Lee Jones, an exercise scientist who was recruited to MSK from Duke University Medical Center in 2014 to initiate this program of research here in NY. Dr. Jones leads a team of approximately 23 individuals, including two junior investigators, all 100% dedicated to exercise oncology research.
Their research focuses on two major questions: (1) the role of exercise to prevent/attenuate the cardiovascular side-effects of cancer therapy, and (2) the efficacy of exercise as a form of cancer treatment.
In the first domain, Dr. Jones and his group were among the first to show that standard cancer therapy is associated with significant impairments in cardiovascular function or accelerated physiological aging. The good news is that their group has also demonstrated that exercise may significantly attenuate this problem. For example, adult survivors of childhood cancer have between a 5 and 10 fold higher risk of cardiovascular disease in comparison to age-matched siblings - Dr. Jones and his team just published a study among ~15,000 adult survivors of childhood cancer showing that regular exercise reduced this risk by up to 50%. They also showed similar benefits in women with early-stage breast cancer. On the basis of these findings, they are now conducting clinical trials to understand what the optimal type, dose, and timing of exercise is to optimize the cardioprotective effects in patients undergoing or have recently completed cancer treatment.
In the second domain, Dr. Jones and his group were among the first to show that the potential benefits of exercise may extend beyond attenuating the symptoms and side effects of cancer treatment but may also impact the natural development and progression of certain types of cancer. For example, in a recent observational study they showed that regular exercise after a breast cancer diagnosis was associated with a significant reduction in the risk of relapse (a recurrence of disease) as well as dying from breast cancer. In related animal research, they showed that exercise slows growth of multiple different types of breast cancers in mice undergoing exercise versus those not exercising. These data have created a solid foundation for early clinical studies in which Dr. Jones and his team are investigating, for the first time, the effects of exercise on the biology and growth of tumors in people - these clinical studies are designed to elucidate the most appropriate dose of exercise as well as which tumors are the most responsive to exercise. Interestingly, Dr. Jones believes that not all cancers will respond the same way to exercise so is interested in first finding out whether this is true and then conducting state of the art tumor profiling to identify what aspects of certain tumors make them responsive or not to exercise.
Overall, the major goals of this research is to prove whether exercise should be part of the standard of care in patients with cancer - at present, exercise is not part of standard cancer care and Dr. Jones and his team are investigating whether this should be the case or not, with such recommendations based on rigorous scientific evidence. Relatedly, Dr. Jones believes that exercise is not a 'one size, fits all solution' but that exercise, like contemporary cancer therapy, should be personalized to the individuals on the basis of that's individuals exercise history and physical status but also maybe, not only the type of cancer but the biology of that cancer.
We are very excited about this novel research and believe it will make a significant impact on the lives of individuals with cancer.