More people in the US die from lung cancer than any other type of cancer. In fact, lung cancer takes more lives than breast, prostate, colon and pancreatic cancers combined.
Additionally, there is an unfortunate stigma associated with lung cancer. While it is true smoking contributes to lung cancer cases, more than half of people newly diagnosed with lung cancer have never smoked. Regardless, no one deserves cancer. Smoker or not. No one. Unfortunately, this stigma has led to massive inequality to the research funding applied to lung cancer as compared to other types of cancer.
While research is hugely underfunded Dr. Martins has still managed to respond to the need for new therapies to cure lung cancer. Allow us to back up for a moment and point out that the most common type of lung cancers are relatively impervious to chemotherapy, thus applying a greater sense of urgency to the research we are about to explain.
Proceeds will be applied towards immunotherapy research, specifically TIL therapy. All lung cancer tumors contain cancer cells and TIL (tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes) cells. TILs can recognize and attack cancer cells, however cancer cells are smart and take countermeasures to put TILs in a sleeping state. TIL therapy extracts a microscopic portion of the patients tumor and reactivates the TIL cells in a controlled environment. The TIL cells with the best fighting chance (pun intended) are grown into the millions, imagine a big lunch bag full of cells in superhero outfits, and will be infused back into the patient. Because the TIL cells are patient specific, the patient’s immune system accepts the transplant of TILs without any adverse reaction. How cool is that?