GRATITUDE FOR YOUR GENEROSITY: Our First Two-Year Research Grant

by Mary Miller

Fight Colorectal Cancer is thrilled to announce during this holiday season that thanks to the generous donations made to the Lisa Fund, it will be awarding its first-ever two-year $100,000 grant to a scientist whose work fights advanced stage colorectal cancer.

Andrea Bertotti, MD, PhD, of the Institute for Cancer Research and Treatment (IRCC) in Candiolo, Italy, has learned that his lab will receive this major grant. “His work will be ground-breaking and exactly in line with the reason Lisa Dubow created this fund—to support a promising researcher working to advance the treatment of metastatic colorectal cancer,” said Carlea Bauman, president of Fight Colorectal Cancer. Fully 100 percent of donations go directly to support young scientists. Each year’s winner is selected by an expert panel of researchers, through a review process administered by the American Association for Cancer Research.

About Dr. Bertotti’s research

Dr. Bertotti has created a unique collection of “xenopatients”–mice which are implanted and living with more than 300 different human colorectal cancer tumors. Each tumor has been meticulously analyzed for gene expression, exome, and cell pathways. With this grant, he will be able to test (in mice rather than in patients) how specific human tumors with defined genetics respond to specific drugs and combinations. Bertotti’s work will also speed the search for biomarkers—tests that could predict which drug will work for an individual’s specific metastatic colorectal cancer.

Lisa Dubow

The work of young researchers like Dr. Bertotti is helping transform metastatic colorectal cancer into a chronic disease, rather than an immediate death sentence. Advances that quickly improved treatment options are what gave Lisa Dubow an extra nine years after her diagnosis, at age 42, of stage III colorectal cancer which later recurred. She passed away in 2007.

During those extra years of life she received thanks to  treatment advances, Lisa began a personal campaign to raise awareness of this “hidden” cancer. In 2006, Lisa worked with the Fight Colorectal Cancer to create the “Lisa Fund.” The fund supports researchers who are dedicated to developing treatments for patients with late stage colorectal cancer. From 2006 to 2011, the organization donated $150,000 in grants for late stage research. With this grant and a grant planned for next year, it will double that amount in just two years.

What to take away

One hundred percent of Lisa Fund contributions go directly to promising scientists doing vital research. Fight Colorectal Cancer is grateful for each one of you who honor the memories of loved one who believed in, were grateful for, and worked to support young scientists who devote their careers to fighting advanced colorectal cancer.

Dr. Bertotti has already made a mark in colorectal cancer research. “Andrea has stood out as one of the most brilliant young scientists of our institution,” said Dr. Paolo Comoglio, Scientific Director of the IRCC. He led “a huge institutional effort” to create the library of genetically analyzed human tumors transplanted into mice. With those human tumor samples, the laboratory will focus on the 40 percent of human metastatic cancer samples in which the tumor is held stable—but does not shrink—when treated with Erbitux (cetuximab).

Using the mouse models, the lab will be able to safely test a combination treatment, adding lapatinib (another drug which works similarly but in a different pathway than Erbitux). The scientists will analyze the cells, looking for biomarkers that predict response to the treatments, as well as other pathways for which new drugs could be developed. If the drugs substantially shrink a subset of tumors, the research could potentially move into clinical trials.

Make an investment in colorectal cancer research. Donate to the Lisa Fund today.

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