HOUSTON - New hope for cancer patients is coming from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.
The powerhouse treatment center is launching a new institute to further and better research immunotherapy. They hope to come up with new treatments using immunotherapy so that patients can rely on their own immune systems to fight disease.
MD Anderson Cancer Center has already proven that immunotherapy can save lives. Ron Speidel is a retired law enforcement officer who was one of the first to try it seven years ago through a clinical trial. At that time, he was only given three months to live.
"The original diagnosis was invasive bladder muscle cancer," explains Ron.
Major surgery and chemotherapy didn't stop his cancer from spreading to his bones. Doctors gave him little hope.
"One minute you're told, 'you're not going to live, you only have a few more months to live on this old Earth,'" says Ron. "Then, the next thing a few months later, you're being told, 'there's a possibility of some hope.'"
Seven years later, he's alive, after undergoing immunotherapy!
Doctors with The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center want to give that hope to every cancer patient. Right now, the high-tech treatment is only available for a few types of cancer. That's why MD Anderson is launching this new initiative.
"I'm thrilled to announce the launch of the James P. Allison Institute at MD Anderson," says Dr. Peter WT Pisters, President of MD Anderson.
The new center is named after the legacy of Dr. Jim Allison, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for his research and discoveries of immunotherapy. He transformed cancer care and has saved countless lives. Dr. Allison is ready for this next challenge.
"First of all, I think remembering what the goal is. I will tell you - Ron, meeting you as a patient who has benefited from this is worth more (starts crying) to me than any prize, anything," says Dr. Allison.
It was an emotional moment when Dr. Allison got to hear Ron's life story and witness how his own discovery gifted Ron years of life.
Now more brilliant minds will be brought in to create life-changing treatments for every type of cancer.
"We know that we're going to be able to create lasting impacts on humanity. We're going to be able to create great insights, discoveries, cures. That's what we're here to do," exclaims President Pisters.
The institute will be led by three renowned scientists: Jim Allison, Ph.D., Padmanee Sharma, M.D., Ph.D., and Raghu Kalluri, M.D., Ph.D. The research will begin immediately.
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