Dana-Farber has launched a revolution in myeloma care, thanks to the power of precision medicine, genomics, immunotherapy, and philanthropy. Over the past 20 years, patient lifespan after diagnosis has increased three to five times, and Dana-Farber’s researchers have led the way in pioneering the new treatments that have improved the outlook for patients. The Institute’s reputation for excellence in myeloma research and care reaches far outside of the Greater Boston area and captured the interest of Maggie and Stephen Oetgen in California.
Building on the Institute’s unparalleled expertise, Irene Ghobrial, MD, director of the Center for Prevention of Progression (CPOP) and the Lavine Family Chair for Preventative Cancer Therapies at Dana-Farber, aims to detect myeloma in its earliest stages and intercept it.
Myeloma is preceded by precursor conditions that sometimes progress swiftly without showing symptoms. Although thousands of patients are diagnosed annually with such precursor conditions, there are no effective therapies to prevent disease progression and most patients do not receive treatment until they develop cancer.
Ghobrial and her team of researchers and clinicians are working to change the “watch and wait” standard of care by investigating treatments that can interrupt the disease in its earliest, pre-cancerous stages. For example, Dana-Farber is the first site in the world to offer teclistamab, a novel therapy, to patients with precursors in a clinical trial, and is also the first site in the world to secure approval for a CAR T-cell therapy clinical trial for precursors under Ghobrial’s leadership.
To advance this pioneering work, the Oetgens established the Oetgen Immunotherapy Fund at Dana-Farber with a generous $1 million investment. The Oetgen Immunotherapy Fund will accelerate novel immunotherapies from late-stage development in the lab to clinical trials, where they can be delivered to patients for the first time. The Oetgens shared their motivation for this magnificent gift: “After meeting Irene Ghobrial, and hearing about all of the tremendous work that she and her team at Dana Farber are doing to prevent cancer through the use of cutting-edge therapies which harness the powerful capabilities of her patients’ own immune systems, we have been thrilled to do all that we can to support her many efforts both now, and into the future.”
Ghobrial remarked, “Thanks to the support of the Oetgens, I can accelerate progress and meet our critical goals of identifying who is at risk of developing myeloma and why, and to deliver precision medicine to patients with precursor conditions with a focus on immunotherapy.”
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