Fighting Cancer with a Vaccine — and How You Can Help
A few weeks ago, we shared the story of Jason, a father of four who was expected to live for only months when he was diagnosed with the most aggressive type of brain cancer.
Jason underwent two surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation, but the treatments didn’t work, and the cancer recurred. That’s when Jason’s doctor asked him if he was interested in being the first patient to try out a new treatment, a vaccine called SurVaxM. Although Jason was somewhat apprehensive, he felt like he had nothing to lose, and he said yes.
Three years later, Jason is doing well, has no evidence of cancer and he’s still receiving the vaccine.
“Him still being here for our children, and for me, it means the world to me,” Jason’s wife, Eva, said. “I cannot describe in words what this vaccine has done for us.”
This first-of-its-kind vaccine works by generating an immune response to a protein, survivin. Survivin has quite the fitting name, since it helps cancer cells survive under stressful conditions.
“SurVaxM puts cancer cells in a Catch 22,” said Dr. Fenstermaker, Jason’s physician and one of the researchers who developed SurVaxM. “The vaccine kills tumor cells that express survivin. If the cells turn survivin ‘off’ to escape the vaccine, they’re essentially committing suicide.”
Survivin is found in 80 percent of cancers, so this new vaccine has the capability to be used in the treatment of many types of the disease. And because SurVaxM targets only this protein, and not healthy cells, it has very few side effects when compared to traditional therapies like chemotherapy and radiation.
Why We Need You:
The development of this vaccine was made possible by critical funding from donations and fundraising events. But, we still need you to move this exciting endeavor forward so that the treatment can help more patients like Jason.
To develop a new treatment and make it the new standard of care, a drug must go through numerous phases of testing to ensure its safety and its effectiveness. Most of the treatments we use today are the results of these tests.
Jason and eight other patients were part of the first phase of testing, which wrapped up in April with promising results. But, in order for the vaccine to become the new standard of care, it must go through at least three phases of testing.
So now, Roswell Park is leading a larger, phase II clinical trial — which is 100 percent funded by your donations or fundraising efforts. This is just one example of how the Empire State Ride is making a difference in the quest for a cancer cure.
To bring hope to as many patients as possible, Roswell Park has invited patients from other leading cancer centers, such as the Cleveland Clinic, to take part in the study. Fifty patients with newly diagnosed glioblastoma brain tumors are enrolled.
But, because it is fully funded by the community’s contributions, this initiative would not be possible without help from supporters like you. By fundraising for the Empire State Ride or making a donation to a rider, you are helping advance this cutting-edge research and bring the vaccine to patients as quickly as possible.
So, next time you ask someone to contribute to your ride, hop on your bike for a training session or donate to a friend who’s taking part in this adventure, know that your efforts are contributing to the fight against cancer, and that you’re touching the lives of those who are battling.