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Using one’s own immune system to treat cancer is a promising area of research that has produced several effective therapies. The attached graph from the Journal of the National Cancer Institute shows progress in survival times.

NICHE recently visited the Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer Research Laboratories in Indianapolis with Dr. Xiongbin Lu, Ph.D., an IU cancer biologist and molecular geneticist who arrived here in October from his previous post at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. His team of a dozen or more scientists is working to cure the most deadly form of breast cancer–called “triple negative” because the cell surfaces lack receptors for estrogen, progesterone and the HER2 gene. Simply stated, breast tumors (of a difficult triple-negative human type) in mice are treated with a special antibody to which has been attached a fungal toxin. The antibody is attracted to the cancer and the toxin has been successful in curing these tumors in mice. More tests and more proof is obviously needed–but as the chart above demonstrates, progress of this type over time leads to better human results. It should be noted that Fort Wayne’s Vera Bradley Foundation has funded this effort at Indiana University with $32 million to date. To learn more, visit medicine.iu.edu/research/labs/vera-bradley/ or to support this research, give at cancer.iu.edu/giving/donor-spotlights/vera-bradley.shtml.