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North Coast Current

News online for Encinitas, Calif.

North Coast Current

News online for Encinitas, Calif.

North Coast Current

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Immunotherapy Foundation Helps Spearhead Novel Personalized Cancer Therapy Trial at UC San Diego

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La Jolla CA— A Southern California cancer patient has become the first person treated in a new phase I clinical trial with a novel form of cell therapy – one created specifically for this patient, using their own immune cells. This cutting-edge approach to cancer is a dream fulfilled for Fernanda Whitworth, president and co-founder of Immunotherapy Foundation (IF), a San Diego-based non-profit organization working to accelerate cancer immunotherapy research and cancer prevention programs. IF initiated and funded this trial, in addition to the essential research and lab space that brought it to life.
“Five years ago, my late husband Ralph and I had a vision to bring cutting-edge medicine to our home in San Diego,” said Fernanda Whitworth. “We wanted to bring together the best doctors and researchers to investigate the best treatments for cancer patients – and with the treatment of this first patient, that dream is being realized.”
Cancer sadly touched Whitworth’s life through the deaths of loved ones, but her determination to realize cures were sparked by the diagnosis, and then recurrence, of her late husband Ralph Whitworth’s HPV+ head and neck cancer. After learning about the promise of cancer immunotherapy, the Whitworths’ helped to create and invest in a partnership between the La Jolla Institute for Immunology and UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center, creating a roadmap from the lab bench to the patient bedside for the most promising immunology research to reach and benefit cancer patients in clinical trials.
“The hope of these trials,” said Whitworth, “is to ultimately be approved for widespread access to cancer patients and prove critical insights to the field of cancer immunotherapy along the way. And though the road to even the first phase of clinical trials is incredibly challenging – especially with something as novel as personalized cellular immunotherapy – our resolve at IF to reach our goal has never wavered.”
With this critical milestone met, IF’s leadership is actively charting the course to helping more ‘first patients’.
Christina Jordan, IF’s executive director, stated, “We are acutely aware that most early research does not make it to patients and that just over 3% of oncology treatments are likely to receive approval. And the cost of reaching approval, according to a new study published in JAMA Network, continues to climb – the average median cost to bring a new drug to market is $985 million. IF has played a critical role in funding the basic science and investing in the infrastructure needed to run sophisticated clinical trials locally. Our goal is to continue these philanthropic investments, so promising early therapies can reach more ‘Patient Ones’. By the end of 2020, we have a goal of raising $6 million for cancer research so we can continue to support new studies and trials.”

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Immunotherapy Foundation Helps Spearhead Novel Personalized Cancer Therapy Trial at UC San Diego