Through the generosity of the S.D. Ireland family, 100% of donations to their Cancer Research Fund go directly to the research lab. All administrative fees and “overhead” are paid for by the family, making every dollar donated a research dollar. We asked oncologist Dr. David Krag for an update on what the lab is working on and how these funds are making a difference. Here’s what he had to say:
Through the help of many, many friends who have purchased pink Denise products, our research has sped up measurably. Critical equipment has been purchased that will allow experiments to proceed much more rapidly. The funds help very much on a tangible level, but we are also deeply moved by the show of support by so many people.
Our international team of expert researchers is focusing efforts on developing methods to make customized treatments for breast cancer patients. These treatments use the body’s own immune response to eradicate cancer cells in a targeted way; this will ultimately make chemotherapy and radiation a thing of the past. We are now beginning to use a “library” of antibodies, maintained in our lab, that has been pooled from many different donors. From this array of millions of different antibodies we seek the individual antibodies that bind specifically to breast cancer cells. Over the past several years, we have developed methods that allow us to test these antibodies directly on cancer cells from breast cancer patients.
This year our goal is to significantly expand this work by using much improved antibody libraries. Also during this year we will begin to evaluate new methods to transform the most promising antibodies into therapeutic agents that could soon be used to treat breast cancer patients. This is a hugely important step and will speed us toward a time when a promising antibody can be used in a breast cancer patient. We have teamed with world class researchers who are experts in new tumor models and with researchers in Germany who have developed new modifications of antibodies that make them much more active in helping the body engage its own immune system to deal with the cancer.
We are focused on breast cancer, but the methods should be equally effective for any other type of cancer. This year marks a new collaboration with researchers who are treating neuroblastoma. This is an uncommon but very aggressive cancer in children. We are already applying the methods generated in our lab to neuroblastoma tumors and will anxiously look forward to our new work in this area.
It is a very active time for us. We have made a major turn in our research and are moving from the early developmental phase to the phase when we begin planning how to move this technology to the clinic. The funds raised by the friends of Denise are extremely important and are speeding us closer to the day when all of these cancers are treatable. Cancer is a solvable problem. From the research team here in Burlington, Vermont, we thank you so much for your support!