This coming Friday, September 7th at 8-9pm EST, Stand Up to Cancer (SU2C) will hold it’s third, live, primetime television fundraiser to underwrite new ways to develop cancer breakthroughs. ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC and several cable channels will donate one hour of simultaneous, commercial-free television that includes a phone bank that will allows callers to interact with the biggest A-list celebrities in entertainment.
Started in 2008 by a group of visionary women, including the late film producer, Laura Ziskin, who died of metastatic breast cancer; Sherry Lansing, former CEO of Paramount Pictures, and advertising executives Rusty Robertson and Sue Schwartz, SU2C hopes to accelerate collaborative and innovative research by bringing together the best and the brightest cancer scientists.
Instead of competing with one another for cancer research dollars, the SU2C “Dream Teams,” made up of scientists, clinicians, bioengineers, molecular biologists and other experts, are working together to move research from the lab to the patient in record time. Some of the areas the SU2C Dream Teams are working on are:
• More effective, less toxic therapies for three major breast cancer subtypes
• Identifying predictive biomarkers & effective drug combinations to treat breast, ovarian and endometrial cancer
• Precision therapy for advanced prostate cancer
• Personalized target/therapy identification in patients with BRAFwt metastatic melanoma
• Cutting off the fuel supply to pancreatic cancer
One of the areas that interests me is spearheaded by the Epigenetics Dream Team. They are concentrating on self-renewing cancer cells, commonly known as cancer stem cells. These cells often escape, evade and become resistant to cancer treatment. Researchers believe that by developing therapies that can target and strike cancer stem cells, they may “silence” key genes that permit cancer to exist and flourish.
Another Dream Team is working on a Circulating Tumor Cell Chip (CTC-Chip). Cancers typically develop in an organ but spread, or metastasize, through the bloodstream. These circulating tumor cells that spread from the primary tumor are extraordinarily rare. By developing a CTC-Chip the size of a business card and containing 78,000 microscopic columns, each coated with a special material, researchers hope they can “catch” a circulating tumor cell, while allowing normal blood cells to flow through unimpeded. By using something like the CTC-Chip, the Dream Team hopes to be able to detect primary and metastatic cancers earlier and less invasively, as well as determine whether a tumor is responding to treatment.
Unlike the Susan G. Komen Foundation, 100% of SU2C publicly raised funds goes directly into research grants. Since Stand Up to Cancer was founded in 2008, they have granted over $109M to seven Dream Teams, along with 26 high-risk, high-reward Innovative Research Grants. SU2C’s administrative expenses and overhead is paid for by a portion of funds raised from major donations and third-party fundraising.
The Stand Up to Cancer Dream Teams believe they are at a pivotal moment when scientists have the knowledge and the technology to make the breakthroughs that are critical in the fight against cancer. From everything I know, other than the Love/Avon Army of Women, the continued funding of Stand Up to Cancer is one of the most important things you can do with your donation dollars. I hope you’ll consider taking out your checkbook and joining them this Friday, September 7, to Stand Up to Cancer!