June is Cancer Immunotherapy Month, and in support of awareness of developing new immunotherapy treatments for various types of cancer – including mesothelioma – the Cancer Research Institute and partner organizations and businesses have developed a slate of events and informational materials to help get the word out about this promising approach to fighting cancer.
“Cancer immunotherapy is giving patients and healthcare professionals hope that we will cure this disease—hope that didn’t exist a couple years ago,” Jill O’Donnell-Tormey, Ph.D., CEO and director of scientific affairs at the Cancer Research Institute, told the Mesothelioma + Asbestos Awareness Center. “CRI is devoted to funding the research that will make cancer immunotherapy an effective treatment option for every patient and in every type of cancer.”
What is Immunotherapy?
In a nutshell, immunotherapy is any approach that uses the body’s own immune system to help fight a disease. This can be done in one of two ways:
- Passive: Drugs that use antibodies or other components of the immune system developed in a laboratory.
- Active: Designed to trigger or modify the body’s immune system in some way to fight the disease.
Immunotherapy is promising because certain types of active immunotherapy could lead to the development of cancer vaccines. One such vaccine that has become well known in the last decade is the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine for women. Because HPV can lead to the development of several forms of cancer, the HPV vaccine is an important development in the use of immunotherapy to fight cancer.
Potential immunotherapy vaccines for mesothelioma are being developed as well. One such immunotherapy vaccine is CRS-207, which received a promising writeup in a study published earlier this year.
A (Moon)shot at a Cure For Mesothelioma
The idea that immunotherapy research could lead to a cure for mesothelioma is one that has enchanted a lot of people – up to and including President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.
In his State of the Union speech earlier this year, President Obama announced his plan to inject one billion dollars into projects seeking a cure for cancer. This initiative, known as the cancer moonshot, is focused specifically on immunotherapy research. Already it has inspired the launch of new cancer centers around the country that will focus on immunotherapy.
The cancer moonshot initiative will undoubtedly boost current research. It will also run alongside other efforts, such as the recent donation of $250 million by Silicon Valley entrepreneur Sean Parker toward immunotherapy research.
Cancer Research Institute and #WhiteOutCancer
One of the organizations at the forefront of finding a cure for cancer is the Cancer Research Institute (CRI). CRI’s mission is dedicated exclusively to using the immune system’s natural abilities to fight every and all form of cancer. They do this by:
- Raising money to fund much-needed research on new forms of immunotherapy
- Spreading awareness of immunotherapy as a life-saving treatment
- Encouraging participation from anyone and everyone to help further both of these goals
One of ways CRI is raising awareness is through the #WhiteOutCancer campaign. Individuals who wish to support the campaign and honor someone they love can do so by visiting the WhiteOutCancer website, uploading a picture, and writing the name of someone for whom they want to “white out cancer.”
During the month of June, the Mesothelioma + Asbestos Awareness Center is helping CRI to get out its message and raise awareness for immunotherapy.
Join in Cancer Immunotherapy Month
You can join in the events and awareness activities of Cancer Immunotherapy Month in any of the ways below:
Donate to CRI – Cancer research is expensive. If you have a few dollars that you can spare, CRI will be able to put it toward developing new immunotherapy treatments that could eventually lead to a cure for cancer.
Answer to Cancer (A2C) Cycling Event – On June 25, this one-day cycling event will take participants through the scenic Lower Hudson Valley. If you can’t make it physically, you can still support the effort by becoming a “virtual rider.” Also, CRI is much in need of volunteers to help run the event.
TODAY Show appearance – On June 13, the CRI team and supporters will be heading down to Rockefeller Square while donning their “White Out Cancer” T-shirts in an effort to spread awareness and gain national exposure for the effort.
White Out Cancer Campaign – Show your support for cancer research by submitting a photo and sharing it with the message that you want to White Out Cancer for a friend, family member, or another loved one.
Online Events – Throughout the month of June, CRI is hosting a number of events, including:
- Ask a scientist – Tuesdays throughout the month
- Informational webinars – Wednesdays throughout the month
- Sharing stories of survivors – Mondays throughout the month
Upcoming clinical trials – This resource is free of charge to patients. It includes a patient navigator to help patients find and join clinical trials that may benefit them.