The Rider

December 2, 2010

The State of Cancer at the James … And How You and Pelotonia are Helping

Filed under: The James — The Blog @ 3:03 PM


It’s easy to get excited when you listen to Mike Caligiuri talk about cancer, and, more specifically about how “we will create a cancer-free world, one person, one discovery at a time” and “we will do it in our lifetime.”


Mike delivered his annual State of the Cancer Program Address on Tuesday to a packed audience of more than 250 people. In a calm, but passionate voice, he explained the advances being made in the fight against cancer and how the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center (CCC) – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute is leading the way, with the help of Pelotonia.

Mike is the director of the CCC and CEO of the James – and the one who came up with the idea for Pelotonia. “It’s incredibly important,” he said of the $12.4 million raised by Pelotonia in just two years.


Cancer treatment is evolving at a quick pace. For years, doctors cut out cancerous growths and tumors and then treated patients with powerful does of radiation and chemotherapy drugs, which killed cancer cells – and also healthy cells. It has worked well, and the survival rate has gone up dramatically. According to the American Cancer Society, about 1 in 2 people diagnosed with cancer in the 1970s survived at least 5 years. Now, more than 2 of 3 survive this long and there are more than 11 million cancer survivors in the United States.


In recent years, scientists have come up with amazing new ways to battle cancer – and the CCC and James are at the forefront of this research. “There is an explosion of exciting research coming out of OSU,” Mike said.


This research is complicated and hard to explain, but here goes: Instead of only being able to cut out and zap cancer cells into submission, scientists are devising ways to prevent, detect and attack cancer cells at the genetic and molecular levels. Vaccines are being developed that can prevent certain types of cancer, drugs are being developed that can find and attach themselves to individual cancer cells and ultimately destroy the cancer cells without destroying the healthy surrounding cells.


For example, OSU and John Byrd recently received an $11.5 million Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) grant from the National Cancer Institute for leukemia research. “Leukemia cells maintain a vicious cycle of growth and this (research) will design drugs to target that growth,” Mike said.


OSU is also starting clinical trials of a drug – AR-12 – developed by Ching-Shih Chen that has shown a great deal of promise in tricking cancer cells into self destruction.


Over the next five years at the CCC and James, Mike said, the focus will be on studying the molecular basis of cancer, creating reagents (treatments) to prevent and cure certain types of cancer, and devising improved methods of prevention and detection.


“We will be able to determine what cancers a person is susceptible to and what to do to prevent them. And with improved imaging we will be able to detect cancer at the microscopic level and take it out without surgery.”


But all this research takes money. Lots and lots of money.

Mike is a scientist ... and a rider

OSU received $57 million for research from the National Cancer Institute in 2010, which ranks it 14th nationally. The goal is to crack the top 10 – and get there quickly.


“But government funding is flat,” Mikee said, adding this necessitates the need for alternative means to raise money. Such as Pelotonia.


Already, the money you helped raise for Pelotonia has paid for 64 student fellowships that are bringing the best and the brightest into the field of cancer research. Pelotonia has also funded 10 idea grants, which give prominent OSU scientists the seed money they need to get promising new ideas up and running.


“The NCI won’t fund an idea,” Mike explained. “You need data, and these idea grants will fuel this data and will lead to the bigger, multi-million grants (from the NCI).”


We – the Pelotonia community – are partners in al this incredible work, Mike said, and the continued success and growth of our ride will fuel more and more research and save more and more lives.


“We have to stay with this, we have to keep going and we will continue until cancer is gone,” Mike said.



1 Comment »

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Lori Boyd, StefaniesTeam. StefaniesTeam said: The State of Cancer at the James … And How You and Pelotonia are Helping […]

    Pingback by Tweets that mention The State of Cancer at the James … And How You and Pelotonia are Helping « The Rider -- — December 3, 2010 @ 8:59 PM

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