Local surgeon offers cancer patients new hope by harvesting tissue from tumors
AccessWDUN | June 18, 2018
Listen to our founder, Dr. Ken Dixon, discuss the importance of live tumor tissue banking during his interview with WDUN AM550 .
Gainesville surgeon Ken Dixon with Surgical Oncology of Northeast Georgia is spearheading a new approach to fighting and curing cancer.
Dixon said recently there is an “unnecessary chasm” between research and the individual patient and to close that divided he brought together a diverse group of experts to develop a tissue storage and banking process to take live cancer tumor tissue and put it to work for the individual benefit of the patient.
“Traditionally, the research field and biopharma have been focused on finding a cure for cancer, while my job has been to cure the cancer patient sitting in front of me,” said Dixon, M.D., FACS, in a press statement.
SpeciCare’s goal is to collect data and living patient tumor tissue in multiple formats including by freezing it in a viable (living) state and then making it available for individual, patient-directed research and clinical testing. Dixon said the decision to collect the tissue ais made between the doctor and patient pre-surgery. He said the process enables access to previously inaccessible innovative testing, clinical trials and cutting-edge therapies to improve patient outcomes and the quality of life.
Tumor tissue is similar to a fingerprint, according to Dixon, holding a unique set of characteristics for every patient. Research has found there is great knowledge to be gained from tumor tissue, an item traditionally used by pathology, discarding the remainder as medical waste. It is now known that living tumor tissue may be the key to unlocking new personalized treatment options and revelations in cancer care that were not previously available. If kept alive, the tissue has the power to provide new options in care.
Tumor tissue will still be used by local pathology to diagnose and stage cancers. However, through SpeciCare, the patient can take control of his or her remaining tumor cells and put them to work for their benefit.
“We know that when time matters most, patients want answers, options and quality of life,” Dixon said. “By bringing the focus of cancer research to the individual patient, we believe we will be able to provide access to solutions that could extend life beyond months to years. We aren’t doing the science. We are just providing access to it.”
The presence of viable tumor tissue means many tests can be done on the tumor itself instead of the patient.
“By providing access to testing on tumor tissue outside the body, our goal is to avoid unnecessary side effects during the treatment process,” Dixon added. “And by returning individualized information back to the patient and their clinical care team, patients can make informed decisions about their care.”
Saving and preserving tumor tissue alive can offer individuals a new and important validation step to eliminate ineffective therapies and identify effective therapies more quickly. Frozen tissue also may allow the 85-percent of patients being treated for cancer in their local community access to leading-edge solutions that transcend geographic boundaries and can be delivered for the most part, at home.
By offering physicians and patients specific pathways to personalized therapies and pertinent clinical trials, and providing researchers with greater access to viable tissue, SpeciCare hopes to be a catalyst in the development of the cancer treatment field and research for the benefit of the cancer patient.
“In today’s growing revolution of personalized cancer therapies, saving as much available tumor tissue from each patient is now more important than ever. Discarding valuable tumor tissue is no longer an option, and keeping as much of it as possible is needed to derive critical data to drive the best treatment decisions,” said Laszlo Radvanyi, PhD, past senior vice president and head of Immuno-Oncology Research at EMD Serono and current chair SpeciCare Advisory Board. “SpeciCare is uniquely positioning itself to be a central hub to acquire, process and bank tumors from individual patients to derive critical genetic and functional data guiding not only more individualized therapies but also as a valuable source of tissue for research on more highly effective cancer therapies.”
SpeciCare provides each cancer patient with the opportunity for discovering innovative treatment options by empowering individual control of tumor tissue and healthcare information in partnership with the physician and health care team.
Dixon’s message to patients and their families is a simple one.
“You only get one chance to save your tumor tissue. Don’t throw it away.”