June 13, 2016

Bob Levis with his sons, Adam and Jay.
Fourteen years ago, at age 51, Bob Levis was diagnosed with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia. Discovering he would likely die young was hard enough, but the thought of missing out on the future with his wife and sons was even harder. Bob suffered through ten years of treatment and when all else failed, he prepared to bid farewell to his family.
But Bob was one of the lucky ones. He was enrolled in an immunotherapy trial at the University of Pennsylvania, based on research first funded by ACGT, and within weeks, and without serious side effects, he was in remission. Three years later, he is still cancer-free and now his grandchildren will help him celebrate Father's Day.

"I can say without hesitation I am alive today because ACGT supports medical science on the front lines of cancer therapies. Please support the research that saves lives - give a gift of any amount in honor of your father or grandfather or anyone you love."
Bob Levis, Immunotherapy Trial Patient and Cancer Survivor.
At the Swim Across America Greenwich-Stamford Swim on Saturday, June 25th, at least 75 of the more than 200 swimmers are teenagers! While the Swim attracts swimmers from ages six to 82, the teens are a large group participating in honor of their parents and grandparents who have suffered cancer; others swim for teenage friends that have been affected by cancer. Right now, these young philanthropists are studying for finals and AP exams, or preparing for summer internships and jobs; what they need most is financial support to applaud their commitment to making waves in the fight to #defeatcancer. Please lend them a hand or make a donation toward our fundraising goal. Every penny counts!

We need you to make our 10th Annual Greenwich-Stamford Swim Across America event a great triumph in the fight against cancer. Swimmers, boaters, kayakers, fundraisers and land volunteers are still needed. There are also opportunities to organize your own pool swim at your pool or club. Please register here or call 203-570-9195 for additional information.  

The FDA gave its blessing to Imlygic, from Amgen, the first treatment approved in the U.S. using a genetically modified herpes simplex virus to destroy cancer cells in advanced stage and recurrent Melanoma, one of the deadliest and increasingly common cancers. Oncolytic Viral [OV] therapies promise a novel approach with over 3,500 viruses as possible therapeutic agents. These viruses are harmless to healthy cells once modified, and they spread rapidly and are highly selective in targeting cancer cells. At ACGT's Scientific Symposium in April, a panel of experts presented findings and the remarkable results of research and trials using measles, polio and rabies viruses, as well as the herpes virus. The challenge for the future of this form of treatment is to match the virus to the cancer and teach viral agents to bypass sensors within cancers that inhibit treatment. Read more.

Vice President Biden announced last week the opening of the Genomic Data Commons [GDC] a public access medical database from the National Cancer Institute [NCI] designed to standardize and centralize genomic and clinical data. This revolutionary knowledge base, opening with data on 12,000 patients, is expected to expand rapidly as more and more scientists contribute, providing a unique sharing opportunity meant to accelerate progress. The program is funded by the precision medicine initiative championed by the NIH and the White House and is notable for its public/private partnership - built and managed by the University of Chicago in collaboration with the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research. Vice President Biden made the announcement at the American Society for Clinical Oncology (ASCO) held June 3-7 in Chicago. Learn more.


Also reported at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology this month were progress reports on experimental drugs that awaken the power of the immune system to destroy cancers. Notably, Kite Pharma Inc., Novartis and Juno Therapeutics, all said they hope for initial approvals in the next year for CAR-T treatment - chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapies that infuse modified cells from a cancer patient back into the body to stimulate the production of the body's natural disease fighting cells. Several ACGT Research Fellows with the support of ACGT grant funding, such as Drs. Michel Sadelain (MSK) and Hyam Levitsky with Juno Therapeutics and Drs. Carl June (Penn) and Glenn Dranoff with Novartis, have been researching this form of immunotherapy for years with increasingly remarkable results.

"After 20 years in medical research, one thing has become crystal clear to me: no one realizes the importance of cancer research until we have cancer. Or someone we love has cancer."
John E. Walter, Chief Executive Officer & President

Join ACGT on Sunday, June 26 at the Greenwich Polo Fields for Greenwich LOOK's non-profit day. Greenwich LOOK will have a VIP tent with a portion of the proceeds going to participating non-profits. For more information and tickets, click here.   
ACGT is the only non-profit organization in the nation dedicated exclusively to funding  cell and gene therapies for cancer. Since its founding in 2001, ACGT has awarded  50 gr ants of over $26 million in North America, and continues to be a catalyst for cell and gene therapy research.
100% of all donations are used to support ACGT research grants and studies in cell and gene therapies for cancer.

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