On behalf of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, we want to share our sincere gratitude to Hackers for Hope for your support and friendship. By investing in science and medicine, you are seeding discoveries that impact cancer patients around the world.
Since 1993, Hackers for Hope has contributed more than $2,223,850 to Memorial Sloan Kettering, for the Head and Neck Service, the Speech, Hearing and Rehabilitation Center, and breast cancer research. Currently, Hackers for Hope is supporting the Laboratory of Epithelial Cancer Biology, under the direction of Bhuvanesh Singh, MD, PhD. The focus remains on defining new ways to treat patients with cancer. To this end, this team has developed a novel compound that inhibits a gene (SCCRO) that was discovered in the laboratory. The compound works very effectively in the laboratory and is likely to have an impact on multiple different cancers including cancers of the head and neck, lung, esophagus, ovary, and cervix. In addition, laboratory data suggest that this gene plays a role in the microenvironment of many other cancers. The preclinical data suggest that the new compound may have preventative properties. Plans include the exploration of methods by which the compound can be used not only to treat but also to prevent several types of cancer. There is considerable interest in this compound and patents have been filed both nationally and internationally.
In addition, exciting advances in immunotherapy have led to the development of novel agents that harness a person’s own immune system as a form of therapy against their cancer. These exciting new therapies have recently shown significant advantages over conventional chemotherapy in our patients afflicted with recurrent or metastatic squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck.
Futhermore, the Head and Neck surgical team continues to be leaders in the use and implementation of minimally invasive approaches to remove tumors in the head and neck. Robotic surgery has made a significant impact on how we treat certain cancers—perhaps most notably for oropharyngeal cancer, which is on the rise because of human papilloma virus (HPV). With nearly 40,000 people diagnosed annually with oral cavity and oropharyngeal cancers, robotic surgery offers patients a far less invasive approach with minimal morbidity.
Hackers for Hope has helped us to undertake an active investigation in the development of quality-of-life measures. We are currently looking at issues including quality of life, speech, swallowing and disfigurement in patients with head and neck cancer. The ability to better quantify patient’s perception of their own condition and disability will allow for more meaningful measures, as we investigate these conditions in the future.
Additional gifts from Hackers for Hope helped to support breast surgeon Alexandra S. Heerdt, MD, MPH. Dr. Heerdt is investigating the use of exercise to help control weight gain in women who are undergoing chemotherapy and to help prevent lymphedema in women. She and team members are making great strides in identifying genetic changes (mutations) that are unique to subpopulations of tumor cells, and to developing new therapeutics to target these mutations.
The Hackers for Hope Organization has been supporting the Bennett Cancer Center research program since 1996. From 1996-2000, the funding from the Hackers for Hope helped support the clinical research that was an important part of the ABMT program at the Stamford Hospital. We participated in ABMT studies with Yale, Columbia, New York University, New York Medical College, and national cooperative groups in the treatment of a variety of diseases such as breast cancer, multiple myeloma, lymphoma, leukemias, ovarian cancer, and brain tumors. These studies helped determine which diseases are best treated by ABMT. To this day, ABMT is an important treatment strategy for lymphomas, myeloma, and leukemias.
From 2000-present, the Bennett Cancer Center at Stamford Hospital has opened 321 research studies and enrolled 1429 patients onto clinical trials.
The clinical trials offered to Stamford and surrounding communities enable patients to access the same novel treatments here that used to be found only at the nation’s major cancer centers.
In 2000 the cancer center had seven research investigators and today there are eighteen qualified clinicians specializing in medical oncology, hematology, surgical oncology, radiation oncology and radiology.
Currently the center has a National Cancer Institute trial from 2000 that is still actively monitoring seven patients, which is an example of the long-term follow-up that occurs with today’s studies. This is also an example of the tremendous increase in survivorship for cancer patients.
Some of the clinical trials supported by Hackers for Hope have led to new treatment drugs on the market and/or assuring their effectiveness.
Ado Trastuzumab Emtansine (Kadcyla®)
Epoetin alfa (PROCRIT ®)
Erlotinib hydrochloride (Tarceva®)
Filgrastim SD-01 (Neulasta®)
Paclitaxel poliglumex (Xyotax®)
Support from Hackers for Hope has made possible:
- Clinical studies of monoclonal antibody therapy to treat advanced prostate cancer;
- Isolation and analysis of circulating tumor cells from prostate cancer patients to identify mechanisms of drug sensitivity and resistance;
- Development of the first transgenic mouse model of kidney cancer;
- Investigation of genetic mechanisms by which bladder cancers become resistant to chemotherapy;
- Use of Precision Medicine to identify new therapies for a specific patient (tailoring therapy to an individual patient).
Cannonball Kids’ cancer (CKc) Foundation was established as a non-profit in January 2015 by Michael and Melissa Wiggins, the parents of Cannon Wiggins. When Cannon was 20 months old, he was diagnosed with Stage IV high-risk neuroblastoma. During the treatment of Cannon, Michael and Melissa learned so little time, effort and funding is devoted to finding cures for children’s cancer compared to adult cancers, and as a result, children are unnecessarily and unjustly lost. The mission of CKc is to fund innovative, accessible research for children fighting cancer to provide better treatments and quality of life, and to educate for change.
Continued support from Hackers for Hope has helped enable CKc to raise more than $1.5 million in three years and actively fund 13 grants, including 11 research grants and 2 education grants. The research grants include 8 research trials and 3 research program grants, which aim to provide hope and create options for children who have been given little to no hope for survival. These trials impact the lives of up to 60 children in 17 states. The education grants support CKc’s mission of educating for change and promoting accessibility of research.
In addition, CKc maintains a lobbying presence in Washington D.C. to educate and work with lawmakers to advance funding for pediatric cancer research on a federal level through the National Institutes of Health and other influential committees.