News & Information | START In The News

October 22nd, 2013
1200 WOAI
By: Jim Forsyth

Cancer Advances Seen at Oncologists Conference

Local cancer researchers say the world's largest convention of oncologists now underway in Boston makes them optimistic that the decades long War on Cancer is one war that the United States and its allies around the world are destined to win, 1200 WOAI news reports.

Dr. Anthony Tolcher, director of clinical research at San Antonio's START Center, one of the world's leading centers for Phase One cancer drug tests, says there are a number of very promising therapies being discussed at the Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research.

"In the coming twenty years, I think cancer will be a lot like diabetes," Tolcher told 1200 WOAI news. "A disease that we treat, we may not necessary cure, but we can always treat it and keeping patients alive is a real step forward."

Tolcher says the biggest buzz at the conference is about a new type of cancer treatment called 'immune therapy,' where a patient's own immune system is told to attack the cancer cell just like it would attack a virus.

He says that has been shown to be very promising in the treatment of kidney, lung, and skin cancers, three of the most common cancers in Americans.

"You can use the immune system to recognize the tumor, and actually eradicate it in some cases," he said.

Tolcher says adding immune therapy to chemotherapy and newly developed targeted therapy will simply give the patient another leg up in the fight against cancer.

Another plus for this convention, Tolcher says, is the fact that researchers from China are participating for the first time. The START Center has played a major role in spurring cancer drug and therapy development in China, after opening a groundbreaking branch in Shanghai two years ago. START also has a branch in Madrid, Spain.

Tolcher says getting such a large population participating in the fight against cancer will be that many more brains to participate in the 'open source' efforts to encourage new ideas, and will also mean a large number of patients who will be available to test new cancer drugs.

"You have a country that is 1.3 billion people, all of whom have the same problems that we have in regards to cancer, and all of them want access to clinical trials."