Anne Bacigalupo is an event volunteer at ABOH. Anne and her husband Mark became involved at ABOH when their pastor and dear friend, John Bucka, was diagnosed with nonsmoking lung cancer. They rallied around John and participated in the ABOH Twin Cities Lung Run/Walk and Golf Classic in his honor. Anne and Mark were hit again when Mark’s mother was diagnosed. They lost both of these loved ones to this terrible disease.
Anne volunteers at ABOH because she has lost many family and friends to America’s number one cancer killer. She wants to do whatever she can to help raise awareness about lung cancer and improve funding for research to put an end to the disease.
Anne is currently serving as co-chair of the ABOH 10th birthday celebration, the 2018 Shining Bright Gala. She has recruited guests, motivated other committee members, solicited amazing silent and live auction items, and has generously donated quite a few things of her own.
ABOH staff and event manager, Anna, loves working with Anne. “Anne is amazing. She works tirelessly to make sure this event is beautiful and raises money to fight lung cancer. She makes my job easier and covers many tasks that help me be more productive with my time. This year’s gala will be more successful because of her hard work.”
Thank you, Anne, from all of us at ABOH!
FROM ANNE: “When I was asked to co-chair and help plan the 10th birthday party, my response was a strong ‘absolutely’. I am excited to help build an event that celebrates hope and raises money for lung cancer research. I have lost too many people to this devastating disease.
My favorite co-chair duties have been working on the décor and the silent and live auctions with the amazing staff and other volunteers. It has been an honor to help create what I hope will be a memorable and fun evening.
Let’s find hope and an end to lung cancer.”
Katie lost the love of her life, husband Benjie, to lung cancer on October 24, 2017. The diagnosis came just two months before Benjie passed, but he had symptoms long before he was finally diagnosed. Benjie was 57 years old.
Katie and the couple’s children miss Benjie every day and feel frustrated by the lack of awareness about this disease in society. They have questions:
Why aren’t we screened for lung cancer, the deadliest of all cancers, when we screen for other less deadly cancers annually?
Why aren’t we educated as a society about what lung cancer looks like and when it is time for a low does CT scan?
Katie’s daughters read a book focused on grief called, It’s OK That You’re Not OK. The author explains that everyone needs a 3AM buddy, someone to call when in need of a friend in the middle of the night. They vowed to be that friend to each other, but Katie quickly realized that her 3AM buddy was Benjie. And as it goes with grief, the pain of the loss rolls over and through her over and over again, especially in the middle of the night.
Katie recently join the A Breath of Hope Circle of Light (abreathofhope.org/donate) because she lives with the profound loss of lung cancer every single day and she knows she must take action to help other families avoid all she has been through. She is angry that this silent killer goes undetected until it is too advanced to beat. She is angry that 433 people die of lung cancer every day, yet there is little public conversation about this disease.
Katie hopes that her support of A Breath of Hope Lung Foundation (ABOH) will help:
1) Educate the public about the disease (including the inaccurate and mean stigma) using facts;
2) Support ABOH research and support services for patients and family members; and
3) Get LUNG CANCER SCREENING added to EVERYONE’S annual healthcare rights.
In the end, Katie hopes her efforts to change lung cancer outcomes will save other’s 3AM buddies.❤️
Alexander Drilon, MD
Medical Oncology Fellow, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
One of the ways tumors can grow and spread is by blocking a person’s immune system from recognizing and destroying tumor cells. Drugs are now being developed that can overcome this block, allowing a person’s own immune system to start attacking the tumor. One such immune boosting drug, BMS-936558, has shown promise at treating patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer. However, this drug does not work for all patients. Dr. Drilon’s goal is to identify which patients are most likely to benefit from this therapy.
Dr. Drilon’s grant will fund a clinical trial to investigate whether patients with a specific tumor biomarker will be more likely to respond to BMS-936558 compared to patients without the biomarker. In addition, he will investigate other biomarkers that may predict response to this drug.
Non-Technical Abstract – Phase II and Biomarker Study of BMS-936558 in PI3K-Active Non-Small Cell Lung Cancers
Patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancers are incurable with currently available therapies. For the first time, however, drugs that work by boosting the immune system such as BMS-936558 have provided a glimpse into the possibility of long-term responses and potential cure for a small percentage of patients with advanced disease. BMS-936558 is active against non-small cell lung cancers, with some patients continuing to benefit from the drug well beyond one year.
To maximize these successes, we must be able to identify patients who will benefit the most from BMS-936558. Studies suggest that non-small cell lung cancers with potential activation of a growth pathway called the PI3 kinase pathway may be more susceptible to treatment with the drug. Our clinical experience at Memorial Sloan-Kettering supports this observation: patients with evidence of PI3 kinase activation have had dramatic responses to BMS-936558 both in combination with chemotherapy and with the drug alone as maintenance therapy.
This phase 2 clinical trial is the first study of its kind to give BMS-936558 to patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancers with evidence of an active PI3 kinase pathway. Our hypothesis is that these patients will be more likely to respond to BMS-936558 compared to unselected patients. In addition, we are also looking at other markers that may predict response to this drug, such as the changes in immune cells that occur after treatment with BMS-936558.
A Breath of Hope Lung Foundation is proud to partner with National Lung Cancer Partnership and has disbursed $54,000 in support of this project (February 2013).
2012 Projects and earlier
Trever Bivona, MD PhD
Assistant Professor, University of California, San Francisco
Approximately 20% of non-small cell lung cancers have mutations in a gene called EGFR (epidermal growth factor receptor). While a drug called erlotinib (Tarceva®) appears especially effective in controlling these tumors, most tumors become resistant to the effects of the drug over time. These patients’ drug resistance can be promoted by the activation of a gene called AXL, so Dr. Bivona’s research seeks to understand how AXL promotes erlotinib resistance. This project could lead to clinical trials that determine whether drugs that block AXL can improve erlotinib¹s effectiveness, helping patients on the drug live longer. A Breath of Hope Lung Foundation is proud to partner with the National Lung Cancer Partnership on funding this project. $108,000 was disbursed in 2012 and 2013 in support of this project.
Title of Project: PARP1 as a novel therapeutic target in small cell lung cancer
There is an urgent, unmet need for more effective treatments for patients with small cell lung cancer (SCLC), a highly lethal malignancy with an incidence rate similar to that of ovarian cancer or glioblastoma. Recently we discovered that poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase 1 (PARP1), a protein that repairs damaged DNA, is dramatically overexpressed in SCLC and that SCLC cells are killed by treatment with drugs that inhibit PARP1. We predict that PARP inhibition may increase the activity of chemotherapies that act by damaging the DNA of cancer cells. Therefore, we designed a clinical trial to test the combination of a PARP inhibitor (ABT-888) with chemotherapy (TMZ) in SCLC patients who have progressed despite receiving one or more standard chemotherapy regimens. In this project, we will develop potential tumor and blood biomarkers that can predict those patients most likely to benefit from this therapy. Our results are directly applicable to the clinic and will lead to more personalized therapeutic strategies for proteins battling this deadly disease. Preliminary data garnered through these studies will be invaluable for future planned clinical trials of PARP inhibitors in SCLC and potentially in other malignancies, such as breast and ovarian cancer, where these drugs have shown clinical activity. A Breath of Hope Lung Foundation is proud to partner with LUNGevity on funding this and other research projects. $55,000 was disbursed for this 2011-2012 project.
Title of Project: Predictive blood-based markers of response to VEGF inhibitors in NSCLC
Research Summary: Predictive blood-based markers of response to VEGF inhibitors in NSCLC
Drugs that target tumor blood vessels, such as bevacizumab and other inhibitors of the VEGF pathway, have improved survival in patients with advanced NSCLC, but only a subset of patients benefit significantly from the drugs while others experience no benefit or even life-threatening toxicities. Furthermore, almost all NSCLC tumors eventually become resistant to these treatments. There is therefore a critical unmet need for biomarkers to identify which patients will benefit from a VEGF inhibitor (predictive markers) and to understand how tumors become resistant to these agents. A major challenge for developing these markers is that tumor angiogenesis is promoted by circulating cytokines and angiogenic factors (CAFs) that may be produced by the tumor as well as the host. Therefore, it is likely that predictive markers for VEGF inhibitors may reflect both influences. For this reason, we hypothesize that by comprehensively profiling angiogenesis-related CAFs and other peptides in the blood, as well as germline variations in angiogenesis-related genes, predictive markers for identifying which patients benefit from VEGF inhibitors (alone or with chemotherapy) can be developed and validated. The PIs of this proposal have already conducted studies establishing three promising and potentially complementary approaches to identify predictive markers using blood samples: 1) multiplex CAF profiling; 2) proteomic analysis using mass spectroscopy (MALDI-TOF); and 3) a signature of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in three angiogenesis genes. In this proposal, these three approaches will be tested using samples from completed clinical trials of VEGF inhibitors in NSCLC patients; the most promising markers will then be validated using samples from two independent randomized trials. These studies have the potential to significantly advance the treatment of NSCLC patients by identifying which patients are most likely to benefit from a VEGF inhibitor, and by sparing patients who are unlikely to benefit from these drugs. They can also provide critical insights into mechanisms of resistance that can guide future combination regimens. $55,000 was disbursed by A Breath of Hope Lung Foundation in 2011 to support this project.
On January 15, 2014, A Breath of Hope Lung Foundation (ABOH) launched its first national RFP grant process in search of two scientists to receive $150,000 research fellowships paid over two years. Specifically, ABOH seeks to partner with universities and cancer institutions to support the salaries of two of our country’s brightest young research talents as they conduct lung cancer specific research. With a focus on researchers who are conducting translational lung cancer research that will lead to patient care/clinical trial within three to five years, our goal is to be part of the solution for the ‘brain drain’ that is forcing promising lung cancer researchers into other fields due to lack of funding in the lung cancer field.
Research proposals were accepted until midnight April 1 and are now in the hands of the review panel, made up of oncology experts from around the nation. Applications are no longer being accepted for 2014 Fellowship Awards.Funding announcements will be made in June.
View RFP (now closed)
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