Cancer research, treatment thrive in Wisconsin

· Sep 11, 2001 Tweet

The University of Wisconsin-Madison leads the way in innovative cancer research and treatment, bringing the latest and strongest in technology to the people of Wisconsin.

One of only 35 cancer centers in the United States that meets the rigorous standards put forth by the National Cancer Institute, UW’s Comprehensive Cancer Center covers a variety of areas, including education; clinical, laboratory and population research; prevention; and symptom control.

“[UW] is one of the most comprehensive cancer centers in the country, not just in clinical service but in research outreach activities,” said Tim Mulcahy, associate dean for biological sciences. “We are at the forefront of developing new therapies.”

Together with the McArdle Laboratory for Cancer Research, the university receives over $70 million annually for the purpose of cancer research, with the UWCCC providing the infrastructure to help cancer researchers accomplish things together.

Programs such as the Experimental Therapeutics Program, led by the Associate Director of Clinical Research, Dr. George Wilding, help identify important findings in the laboratory and develop them into treatments for cancer patients.

“We’re the people that take brand-new potential drugs and give them to people for the first time,” Wilding said.

Wisconsin has a long history of scientific and medical breakthroughs and pushing for newer and better drugs. Drugs such as Fluorouracil, which is used extensively to treat a variety of cancers, including breast, ovarian, stomach, and colon, were first synthesized and given to patients at UW in the 1950s.

Wisconsin was also one of the first institutions to do clinical trials in the 1980s on a drug named Paclitaxel, a current mainstay for treating breast and lung cancer.

Today the UWCCC is testing a new wave of promising cancer fighters called angiogenesis inhibitors. These drugs block blood vessel growth, starving the tumor with few negative side effects to the patient.

UW is being recognized nationally for its efforts in developing two such drugs, Endostatin and Panzem, which are currently garnering acclaim as the next wave of cancer fighters.

A special on PBS’s “Nova” entitled “Cancer Warrior” will run tonight at 7 p.m. It will feature the university’s testing of Endostatin. ABC World News Tonight recently featured Wilding’s work with prostate cancer and the promise of Panzem.

Panzem has excited the science world because it can be taken in pill form rather than intravenously, which makes the treatment less disruptive to cancer patients.

“A lot of us feel that these new targets for cancer treatment, like angiogenesis, can start us thinking about cancer as a chronic disease we can effectively control over a long period of time, even if we don’t cure it.” Wilding said.

However, Wilding said these discoveries are still in very early stages and have a long way to go.

“The process can take years, and it’s a frustrating set of years for the patients waiting for new treatments and the researchers developing new treatments.” Wilding said.

Wilding said the process of getting the drugs from the laboratories to the clinics contains a large and very expensive gap that involves a lot of disappointments, considering that most new drugs never make it past the clinical trials.

The UWCCC provides the people of Wisconsin with a reputable resource that helps with the nationwide search for cancer cures. UW gives patients and students an opportunity to get involved in the fight against cancer and the next step to finding a better treatment.

“Our clientele is Wisconsin,” Wilding said. “They are getting access to a level of cancer care and cancer research that compares to any other cancer center in the country.”


This article was published Sep 11, 2001 at 12:00 am and last updated Sep 11, 2001 at 12:00 am


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