SAA Funding Contributes to FDA Approval of KEYTRUDA

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, Swim Across America 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 Swim Across America supporter, it’s important you know the impact of our cause. Testimonials from our beneficiaries are published and we encourage you share them with your supporters.
 
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Dr. Luis Diaz at SAA – Baltimore Open Water Swim

Saving Lives at the Johns Hopkins Swim Across America Lab

Stefanie Joho joined SAA – Baltimore this year to share her uplifting story. Four years ago at 22-years old she was diagnosed with stage 2 colon cancer. Stefanie went through repeated chemo with no positive response, and the cancer spread to stage 4. Her doctors gave her weeks to live. Desperate and not willing to give up, her sister googles and finds Dr. Luis Diaz at our beneficiary Johns Hopkins Medicine.

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Dr. Diaz told Joho to come immediately to JHU where she participates in an immunotherapy clinical trial of Keytruda funded–yes funded–by your donations to Swim Across America. The trial saved her life (she has “no evidence of disease NED”), she has a bright future and Keytruda is now FDA approved. Read Stefanie’s story in the New York Times and if you are inspired by the work being done through Swim Across America labs, please consider donating to SAA: http://bit.ly/SAAdonation.

Genetic tests for mismatch repair deficiency are commercially available. But insurers might not pay for the drugs — Keytruda and Opdivo cost $150,000 a year — based on such a small study. The study was paid for by Swim Across America and other charities, and the National Institutes of Health.  – New York Times

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