Owen McMasters died of leukemia February 15, 2016 knowing the science that could have cured him of his cancer was right at our doorstep. Owen’s Wish was that no other children (or adults) would have to endure the ravages of cancer and its treatment without a meaningful chance to be cured.
The Owen’s Wish Fund will allow us to develop a world-class group of scientists and physicians dedicated to advancing the field of cancer immunotherapy and providing state-of-the-art immunotherapy care for patients in our region. Please join our effort to help make Owen’s Wish come true.
Recent advances in cancer research have stimulated the development of new therapies that can prevent cancer from spreading and, in some cases, completely eradicate cancer from a patient’s body. Called “immunotherapies,” these treatments are different from traditional chemotherapies. Chemotherapies are very toxic chemicals, while immunotherapies activate the patient’s own immune system. Immunotherapies selectively kill cancer cells — leaving normal cells intact — so the majority of patients who receive immunotherapies do not suffer from debilitating side effects.
For the past decade, UofL James Graham Brown Cancer Center has been at the forefront of developing and testing immunotherapies. Our researchers first began studying immunotherapies in patients with melanoma (skin cancer).
We pioneered the testing of a combination of two types of immunotherapies against melanoma. This combination of drugs dramatically increased the survival of patients with metastatic melanoma, from only five percent survival after three years to 70 percent. This approach is saving the lives of nearly 30,000 melanoma patients every year.
We are now applying our research to other cancers including lung cancer, colon cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, lymphoma and leukemia. We’re proud that the immunotherapies we first tested against melanoma have been found to reduce deaths caused by 12 other types of cancer.
However, these immunotherapies don’t work in every patient. Millions of people still die from cancer every year.
To tackle these issues, our researchers are developing innovative, genetic approaches to activate immune cells and designing new drugs that block resistance.
We are committed to bringing immunotherapies to the clinic because we believe they hold unparalleled promise for patients with cancer. We believe they will reduce the number of cancer-related deaths by 25 percent over the next five years — that’s 150,000 lives saved in the United States and 2 million worldwide!
We also believe that you can help us reach this vital goal. Please consider supporting immunotherapy research at UofL James Graham Brown Cancer Center by donating to Owen’s Wish.
What do we need to do to finally beat cancer? We need to understand why some cancers are resistant to immunotherapies, and we need to develop strategies for overcoming resistance.