August 2, 2016

In back-to-back feature articles in The New York Times this week, science writers Matt Richtel and Andrew Pollack reported on near-miraculous remissions resulting from immunotherapy treatments. Both articles focused on patients whose cancers had not responded to years of chemotherapy and/or radiation treatments and who had the good fortune to be referred to clinical trials. Immunotherapy, in the simplest of terms, stimulates the immune system to recognize cancer and also bypass the natural blockades within cancers in order to destroy diseased cells. Three immunotherapy drugs are currently approved for melanoma and lung cancer, with many more in development. Citing a Hodkins lymphoma patient at death's door in Immunotherapy Offers Hope to A Cancer Patient, But No Certainty , Richtel reported that just weeks after the injection of experimental immunotherapy drug Nivolumab he was in remission. Despite a subsequent relapse followed by surgical and drug treatment that almost killed him, he beat the odds and prevailed again. Pollack reported in Setting the Body's Serial Killers Loose on Cancer  on Dr. Steven Rosenberg at the National Cancer Institute who has committed half a century to the promise of immunotherapy and also Dr. Carl June at the University of Pennsylvania and Dr. Michel Sadelain at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, leaders in the field and members of our Scientific Advisory Council. He also referenced Edward and Barbara Netter, founders of Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy, still the only non-profit in the country dedicated exclusively to cell and gene therapies for cancer.

"Within weeks after that first treatment, his doctors declared him in remission."
Matt Richtel reporting on an immunotherapy patient in The NY Times, August 2nd.


Cancer Survivor Meline Dickson center with Event Co-Chairs Michele Graham and Lorrie Lorenz left to right . Photo by Elaine Ubina - Fairfield County Look.
The 10th annual Greenwich-Stamford Swim Across America Open Water Swim raised (at last count) $420K, bringing the total event proceeds this first decade to over $3 million! Held the last Saturday in June at ACGT headquarters in Stamford, CT, 240 swimmers and 15 swim teams, as well as 55 boaters/kayakers, crossed the Long Island Sound from nearby Greenwich, and many more swam at satellite events held during July at local pools and clubs. Swimmers ages 8 to 80+ made the plunge to honor parents, grandparents, spouses, friends and children, with the hope of lifesaving treatments soon to come.

"We are privileged to be a part of a giant family that pulls together so that some day soon anyone who hears the words 'you have cancer' also hears, 'but it's going to be okay.'"
 - Lorrie Lorenz and Michele Graham, event co-chairs
Swimmers make waves at the 10th Annual Greenwich-Stamford Swim. Photo by Fairfield County Look.

In a thank you speech to participants, ACGT Research Fellow Samuel Katz, MC, PhD, Assistant Professor at Yale University, emphasized the critical need of private funding for discovery
Members of Team Julian. Photo by Nancy Moon.
research. With a 2015 ACGT Young Investigator grant, Dr. Katz is making strides in the laboratory development of immunotherapy treatments for blood cancers. This year, inspired by event chairs Michele Graham and Lorrie Lorenz, the mothers of teenage cancer survivors, a record number of adolescent teams participated. One of these, Team Julian, raised $92,000 in honor of  former Greenwich High School swimmer Julian Fraser, currently battling a rare form of bone cancer.

"The most important thing about this event is not the swimming itself, it is the purpose for which we swim."   - Owen Branigan, Captain, Team Blue Wave, four-year swimmers.

The 2016 Swim Across America Greenwich-Stamford Swim will continue to fund:

Many thanks to the Greenwich-Stamford Swim Across America Honorary Co-chairs!



ACGT CEO and President John Walter and Executive Director Margaret Cianci participated in a highlights webinar on the Cancer Moonshot Summit, sponsored by FasterCures. 
Moonshot is the initiative announced at President Obama's State of the Union address in January, and led by Vice President Biden. The goal is to bring to market more effective therapies by 2020 and an unprecedented alliance of research scientists, pharmaceutical companies and cancer institutes have banded together to make this happen. It is uplifting to those of us in the field of cancer research and care to see so many great medical minds coming together, backed by the force and the funding of the White House, the NIH and the National Cancer Institute, to share findings and build a more rapid path to approved innovative treatments.

"... patients should be able to find a clinical trial that might suit a specific condition. Doctors should have an easy way of guiding patients through the process."   - Vice President Joe Biden 
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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