SAA Family Tree is a monthly focus on stories that display the impact all the members of the Swim Across America family have both locally and nationally. If you have a story or link you’d like to share, please send here.
Each Swim Across America Event Director is inspiring in their own way. It’s incredible to see the hard work of a couple get widespread recognition this month. We can’t think of a better group to feature. Don’t forget to thank your local Event Director today and sign up to volunteer to help!
For the first time, the FDA has approved a drug—KEYTRUDA—for cancer-based disease genetics rather than the site of a tumor. KEYTRUDA now can be used for colon, pancreatic, stomach, ovarian and other cancers if genetic testing reveals defects in so-called mismatch repair. The clinical trials for KEYTRUDA were conducted at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg-Kimmel Institute. The testimonial letter from Johns Hopkins acknowledges that in 2009, SwimAcrossAmerica was the first organization to believe in the KEYTRUDA research project and provide grant funding for KEYTRUDA clinical trials. In total, over $2.6 million in proceeds from SAA—Baltimore have funded clinical trials and lifesaving research at Johns Hopkins.
Merck issued a press release quoting Swim Across America for providing grant funding for KEYTRUDA clinical trials that helped lead to FDA approval:
“Swim Across America’s mission is to help advance cancer research,” said Rob Butcher, CEO of Swim Across America. “We are honored that our organization supported some of the initial research conducted by Dr. Diaz and team, which has now contributed to the approval of KEYTRUDA for this new indication.”
As a SwimAcrossAmerica supporter, it’s important you know the impact of our cause. Testimonialsfrom our beneficiaries are published and we encourage you share them with your supporters.
The authors acknowledge the Emory + Children’s Pediatric Research Biostatistics Core for their assistance with this manuscript. Research support was provided by Swim Across America and the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Foundation/Scott Shockley Family.
2017 will mark SAA – Long Island Sound’s 25th year raising money to fight cancer through research, as well as provide for those who are going through treatment. We give thanks to all of you who have partnered with us throughout the years to make this event such a success. Below is a compilation of all historical photos, videos and flyers. We hope you’ll join us again this year to celebrate our 25th Anniversary. All historical photo albums can be found here.
When Johns Hopkins scientists Bert Vogelstein, Ken Kinzler, Luis Diaz and their colleagues linked certain cancers to mutations in genes that repair DNA, they may not have imagined that their findings would spark an idea that has become a crystal ball for predicting whether immunotherapy is more likely to work in a person with cancer. The $3 million in grant funding over the last decade from Swim Across America – Baltimore has played a major role in funding their idea of “mismatch repair” so more families can have hope.
Now, their work is being featured in the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s Clinical Advances 2017 and you can read more about the accomplishments here and watch the patient perspective below.
The following was shared by Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.
In the past few years, immunotherapy has produced unprecedented breakthroughs in cancer research. SCCA’s Swim Across America Cell Therapy Laboratory (SAA-CTL) is at the leading edge of this work and SAA-Seattle funding has been critical in supporting the clinical trials that bring this research to patients. SAA-Seattle grants allow us to train technologists in the theory and practice of complex cell processing methods and helps provide sophisticated instrumentation required for these methods. An example of our SAA-Seattle funded research is the Chimeric Antigen T Cell Receptor (CAR T) immunotherapy, which involves selecting and genetically modifying certain lymphocytes to be able to recognize and kill tumor cells. In 2014, SAA-Seattle grants enabled us to initiate the first CAR T clinical trial at SCCA. This trial has produced remarkable results: the complete remission (CR) rate in refractory (unresponsive to other therapies) B Cell Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia was 94% and the CR rate in refractory Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma was 64%. This profound success allowed additional patients to be treated, including 35 new patients in 2016. Three more trials using similar technology are beginning in 2017.
SAA-Seattle has played a vital role in supporting groundbreaking research at SCCA. Thanks to SAA-Seattle funding, we have become a center of excellence for selecting particular cells that contribute to an “anti-cancer” effect while removing the other cells (naïve T lymphocytes) that can cause graft vs host disease. This concept has been a sort of holy grail for the treatment of hematological malignancies (certain types of leukemia) through transplantation and trials supported by SAA-Seattle funds have shown extraordinary results. These naïve T cell depletion and CAR T study results have been published in top tier journals.