Lab Series #2: Baylor Charles A. Sammons Cancer Center

Your donations allow SAA to provide funding to some of the world’s most renowned cancer institutions. This is the second in a series featuring the SAA LABS that our beneficiaries have named in honor of the efforts of Swim Across America.

1785-4X6This month, we are profiling the Swim Across America Innovative Clinical Trials Center (ICTC) at Baylor Charles A. Sammons Cancer Center at Dallas. The trials center was named for SAA in 2013 and features some treatments that can’t be found anywhere else in the country. Dr. Alan M. Miller, MD, PhD and Director of the Baylor Charles A. Sammons Cancer Center and Carlos Becerra, MD were kind enough to answer some of our questions. 

What does the ICTC mean to the doctors and patients that use it?

The Swim Across America Innovative Clinical Trials Center (ICTC) at Baylor University Medical Center is a clinical facility where patients come to receive treatments that are available at only a few specialized centers in the country or may only be available at the ICTC.

These trials provide options for patients whose cancer has resisted standard therapies.  Many fall into the category, Phase 1 trials. These require a specialized staff with experience in treating patients with new therapies.

What kind of cancer research is being done in the ICTC?

In the past few years, the physicians and staff of the Swim Across America ICTC have participated in some of the most exciting studies using precision medicine and immunotherapy. Precision medicine involves analyzing the genes of the cancer and applying drugs that specifically target abnormalities in the cancer cells that are not in the individuals’ normal tissue. Immunotherapy harnesses the body’s own immune system to help attack the cancer.1794

What plans are in store for 2016 and beyond?

An exciting trial starting in 2016 involves the use of a dendritic cell vaccine to treat pancreatic cancer.  Dendritic cells are cells of the immune system that identify abnormal cells like a bacteria or a cancer cell and then call in other components of the immune system to attack the invader. This dendritic cell vaccine was developed in the laboratory of the Baylor Institute for Immunology Research and is only available at the ICTC.

“Thanks to the funding from Swim Across America we have been able to explore new and very encouraging therapeutic targets for otherwise deadly diseases such as pancreatic cancer or refractory colon cancer and have been able to provide patients with novel therapies that would not otherwise be possible. We have taken discoveries from the lab of our scientists and tested the concept in the clinic thanks to the support of SAA, an example of translational work done within the walls of Baylor University Medical Center.” – Carlos Becerra, MD

For further information about the Swim Across America ICTC, please view the following video (the ICTC is featured at 3:38) or see more info on all the studies to the trials currently going on here.

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