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Dear Friends,

This year marks the sixth year since the founding of ABC² and as we prepare for our annual scientific retreat this month in San Francisco, we can't help but reflect on the progress we see and the many new and promising frontiers that lay before us. By way of update, I thought it might be helpful to share with our key allies, supporters, and friends some of the exciting areas of focus that will continue to represent priorities in our work going forward and will be the key agenda topics for the upcoming retreat.

The Story of Avastin
Early on we identified the need for more effective treatments for GBM. We've seen a significant increase in the number of clinical trials, which represents great progress. As we've always noted, you need "shots on goal" in order to score points. We continue to watch these trials with interest and are particularly focused at this point on Avastin. With the recent release of Duke's strong data from their pilot Avastin trial, combined with the optimism we are getting from our clinical trials network, we are hopeful that a powerful new weapon to deploy against recurrent GBM is emerging. In our six years of investing in research and clinical efforts to accelerate options for therapies, we have yet to see the kind of positive clinical data and efficacy that we've seen to date with Avastin. At our annual retreat, we will reflect on the story of Avastin and the lessons learned from the field as it was taken forward in trial. We believe these lessons can play a powerful role in helping to define the priority areas of focus for ABC² and other brain tumor organizations in the months and years ahead.

Personalized, Targeted Therapies
When we started ABC² we were surprised that there wasn't much investment or momentum in the areas of personalized, targeted therapies for patients with brain cancer. Today, we are optimistic about the developments taking place that are providing clear identification of GBM targets, and research and technologies that are pointing to therapeutic solutions. We have been most grateful for the involvement and partnership we have shared with the NCI and other leading institutions in this work. While we know much still needs to be done to provide the process and scale to offer personalized therapy on a broad basis, we believe the field has advanced significantly on this front and will continue to do so with proper investment and focus. The recently released data from the cancer genome project, which had GBM as one of the first targets will hopefully light a fire under the field.

Cancer Stem Cells
ABC² has worked with leading research institutions to fund work and share data to better understand why GBM tumors are highly resistant to radiation and other forms of treatment; and why tumor cells remain and often regenerate to form larger tumor masses following surgery, radiation and therapy. Drugs targeted at cancer stem cells represent a new frontier that is showing some promise. Early findings seem to suggest that the role of cancer stem cells in repairing damage to the DNA in cells contributes to cell repair and prohibits destruction of some cancer cells in radiation or therapy. New research in this area has identified drugs that inhibit the stem cells from repairing DNA in cancer cells, thus allowing the radiation or target therapy to destroy such cells. We believe this area is worthy of much more focus and investment and may be a real key to offering efficacy in therapies.

Vaccine Development
Similar to the new vaccines that have proven effective in reducing the incidence of cervical cancer, vaccine development for GBM patients is a new frontier that is showing real promise. ABC² is working to take forward a collaborative co-investment with leading brain tumor organizations including the Brain Tumor Society and the American Brain Tumor Association in this exciting area of work. A pilot trial is underway that is being conducted by Dr. John Sampson at Duke. It is still early in the trial, but the results are encouraging. In addition, vaccine strategies that are promising in other cancers are slowly being moved to the patients with GBM - which is another source of hope and optimism for success.

Collaboration, Screening of New Compounds and More Clinical Trials
In addition to the exciting new areas described above, ABC² will keep its focus on cross-sector collaboration by bringing together the best and the brightest from science, medicine, government, nonprofits and industry. Moving forward, we will continue to fund the screening of new compounds to identify great candidate drugs to take into clinical trials, and we will direct funding to enable some of these early clinical trials that can bring new therapy options to patients. Working together, we believe we can achieve our goal of making brain cancer a treatable disease and perhaps some day even finding a cure.

As we look at the exciting frontiers ahead, we wish to extend our thanks to Kate Carr who has led the organization over the last two years and prepared it for future success. Kate will step down from her role at ABC² at the end of this year, but will continue to be a valued friend and advisor to us and to the brain cancer community. We are grateful to Kate for her many contributions to the work of ABC². Her care and concern for patients and their families and her commitment to helping find a cure for brain cancer is appreciated by the entire Board and all who have come to know her.

The mission of ABC² goes forward with great hope and promise. We thank you for your continued support of our work and look forward to updating you next month after our annual meeting in San Francisco! We hope to celebrate together the many developments along the path to a cure.

Sincerely,


Steve Case
Chairman
Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure

 

Content copyright © 2008 Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure, Inc.