ML - Boston Common


Boston Common - Niche Media - A side of Boston that's anything but common.

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before the dawn breaks fishing for answers AND AT DANA-FARBER. by cheryl fenton D A CANCER RESEARCHER CASTS FOR THE BIG CATCH BOTH IN BOSTON HARBOR uring the warmer months David Weinstock sets his alarm for 4:45 am and is on the water out of Quincy's Marina Bay by 5:45, fishing for striped bass and bluefish. By 9 am the fish are in the fridge, and Weinstock is at work, looking for new angles on curing cancer. Weinstock is what's known as a triple threat in his role as an assistant professor, medical oncologist overseeing bone marrow transplant patients, and laboratory investigator in hematologic neoplasia at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School, and Brigham and Women's Hospital. His lab identifies new ways to treat blood cancers such as leuke- mia. It has developed a system for taking the genetic material from a patient's leukemia cells and fishing for the one gene most important for its growth. On his boat, the Albatross, the biggest fish ever caught on his fly rod was a 30-pound striper. Professionally, his biggest catch was the discovery of CRLF2, an elusive leukemia gene and an important target for new leukemia drugs. "The kind of research I do is high-risk, high-reward," says Weinstock. "The kind of fishing I do is the same. Most casts aren't going to catch a fish, but if you keep trying and apply all your skill and acumen, you might just catch a really big one." Weinstock often will bring colleagues out on his early casting sessions. One morning last year Dr. Joseph H. Antin, chief of Dana-Farber's stem cell transplantation program, joined him. They were casting unsuccessfully, chatting about a case of two sisters who developed lymphoma after one had donated bone marrow to the other to combat leukemia. As a result of that discussion, the doctors did some "cutting-edge, ultra-deep gene sequenc- ing" and were able to identify the lymphoma's precursors as well as the mutation that allowed it to grow. Thanks to their work, the sisters are in remission, and there's the possibility of an early treatment for follicular lym- phoma being developed one day. Now that's a fish that didn't get away. BC 60 photography by eric levin

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