Letter From the Director – January 2017

Welcome to the new McArdle Laboratory for Cancer Research website. I hope you enjoy reading about the many new findings from McArdle Researchers that could impact your life and the lives of your loved ones, news about our accomplished alumni, outstanding trainees and the storied history of McArdle, the oldest academic cancer research institute the United States. Learn how you can Make a Difference by supporting McArdle, and how so many of you around the state of Wisconsin already have made a difference through your support of McArdle.  Come join us in the journey to a cure through breakthrough discovery research.

2017 brings great hope for cancer patients. A new form of immunotherapy called “checkpoint” inhibitors, is taking off as a highly effective new tool in the fight against cancer. Some patients are showing remarkable responses to these drugs that break cancer’s hold over our own immune system, thereby allowing our immune system to destroy the cancer. These drugs are the direct product of basic research. Indeed, breakthroughs like this arise from pilot studies supported by people like you, your family, and your friends. Here is a McArdle example, but first a surprising fact.

Do you know that 1 in 6 human cancers are caused by viruses? We call them “tumor viruses.” But our immune systems are there to protect us against viruses, so how can tumor viruses cause cancer? Because these particular viruses evade our immune system, causing sometimes life-long infections. And from these persistent infections can arise cancers. So now the McArdle solution!

McArdle researcher, Dr. Shannon Kenney, and her research group recently discovered that the new checkpoint inhibitors break a tumor virus’ ability to evade the immune system. So now the immune system can destroy the virally-caused cancer. True to her findings made in the laboratory, some patients with cancers caused by the same virus her lab studies are responding fantastically to these new checkpoint inhibitors. Thus, from breakthrough discovery research in McArdle to cures at the bedside. And how was this research made possible? By donations made by Wisconsinites like you. Yes, you REALLY can make a difference.

I hope you enjoy learning about what’s happening in McArdle on our new website. Bookmark it, and come back to read new stories posted every month. Link to us on Facebook and Twitter! And, please, join the McArdle family: Make a Difference. Help McArdle find new cures to cancer, through breakthrough discovery research.

If you have any questions about McArdle, our cancer researchers, or if you want to know more about how you can help, please do contact me.

Best wishes to you,

Professor Paul F. Lambert
Director, McArdle Laboratory for Cancer Research