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Multiple cancer research projects at Roswell Park

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Posted at 4:47 PM, Dec 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-25 13:03:45-05

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — According to the National Cancer Institute, an estimated 1,806,590 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in the United States this year and more than 606,520 will die from the disease.

Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center has been working on multiple cancer research projects.

One of these advancements is a drug called SurVaxM that was designed to treat a form of rare cancer called glioblastoma, will be used in a large clinical trial this year.

"We finished the clinical trials here at Roswell Park, the initial clinical trials. They were opened here and also at the Cleveland clinic. And now the next phase of this investigation is to open this trial in a number of cancer centers around the country," said Dr. Candace Johnson, Roswell Park President and CEO.

The drug is a vaccine approach to brain tumors. Trials for using this drug in pediatric brain tumors have also started.

"Lots of patients come to us for this particular vaccine because it has shown some efficacy," said Dr. Johnson.

Other exciting research includes understanding what makes cancer spread.

"Here you have a tumor, and if you have a little cell that's trying to escape that primary tumor, for those tumors to be able to survive, to be able to migrate through other tissues and sort of break through barriers, that you have in your body, the tumor has to be very crafty," said Dr. Johnson.

The majority of cancer deaths are caused by cancer metastasis, or the spread of cancer cells from one organ or site to another. Researchers are looking into ways to derail or stop those processes so the cancers can’t spread.

Researchers are also looking at two new treatment options for patients with lung cancer thanks to advancements in genetics.

"In the tumor itself, many times there's some mutation or some sort of genetic signature that's in that lung tumor. And then there are drugs that can attack that mutation or that particular abnormality," said Dr. Johnson.

And despite being in the midst of a pandemic, it was important for Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center to keep the research going.