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The Farrah Fawcett Foundation Seeks New Therapy For HPV-Related Cancers

SAN DIEGO (UPI) — The Farrah Fawcett Foundation and other groups are behind a new research effort to seek therapy for human papillomavirus-related cancers including cancers of the anus, cervix and head and neck.

Stand Up To Cancer, the Farrah Fawcett Foundation and the American Association for Cancer Research announced at the AACR annual meeting in San Diego formation of a research team dedicated to developing a new vaccine for patients who have relapsed from HPV-related cancers.

Fawcett was diagnosed with anal cancer in 2006 and was treated by chemotherapy and surgery, but a year later, her cancer returned and spread to the liver. She traveled to Germany for surgery and a course of perfusion and embolization for her liver cancer. The therapy was successful at first, but tumor reappearance a few months later required a new course, including laser ablation therapy and chemoembolization — a procedure to restrict a tumor’s blood supply. Fawcett died in 2009.

Dr. Ellis L. Reinherz, chief of the Laboratory of Immunobiology and co-director of the Cancer Vaccine Center at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston and Dr. Robert I. Haddad, leader for head and neck oncology at Dana-Farber, will lead the research project.

“Our project involves the development of vaccines that stimulate specific immune cells to attack HPV-driven cancer cells,” Reinherz said.

“Our vaccine is uniquely designed to attack the cancers even after tumor formation and, importantly, without causing collateral damage to normal tissues. The strategy is to 1) identify the tumor target, 2) activate specific immune cells, and 3) deploy these effectors at the tumor site for selective destruction of the cancer.”

The Stand Up To Cancer-Farrah Fawcett Foundation Human Papillomavirus Translational Research Team Grant will provide $1.2 million in funding over three years.

“Farrah was committed to the struggle against anal cancer and other forms of cancer,” Alana Stewart, chief executive officer and president of the Farrah Fawcett Foundation said at the news conference. “We are very pleased to continue Farrah’s legacy by supporting this important scientific initiative.”

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