An Inside Look at the Cell Therapy Lab Funded by Max Cure at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
In May of 2007 when Max was just beginning his treatment, David and Annemarie asked Dr. Richard O’Reilly, the Chairman of Pediatric Oncology at MSKCC, and Dr. Paul Meyers, the Vice-Chairman of Pediatrics as to how best they can make a difference in the area of pediatric cancer. They wanted to know what they can do today in case the treatment for Max did not work. What alternative treatments would be made available to Max if the cancer was too strong and he did not respond to the treatment?
Dr. O’Reilly discussed in detail that for the past decade he had been researching the use of alternative strategies to fight cancer. The alternative strategy has proven to work in other forms of cancer for adults. As Chairman of Pediatrics, his focus is on children and young adults and made it clear that his research has been proven to work but his access to funds are limited.
“Immune cell therapies are an exciting area of research that holds great promise for future progress in developing more precise, less toxic treatments for children and adolescents with cancer. With the support of the Max Cure Foundation, the establishment of a Cell Therapy Lab will be a crucial step in advancing the discovery and translation of new knowledge into novel gene and cell-based therapies that are more effective in fighting pediatric cancers.”
--Dr. Richard O’ReillyChair of the Department of Pediatrics, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
The Plotkin’s started The Max Cure Fund to be held at MSKCC, which would be solely for the purpose of raising $5 million dollars to underwrite the cell therapy lab dedicated to the alternative treatments and researching the cancers in children and young adults that Dr. O’Reilly was spearheading.
As of now, chemotherapy is the most effective way to treat and destroy cancer cells. However, chemotherapy is like a blunt instrument and does a poor job distinguishing the healthy cells from the cancer cells. While targeting the cancer cells, it destroys the good cells too. Our bodies have trillions of cells, and all it takes is for one bad cell to spread cancer.
Dr. O’Reilly and Dr. Meyers firmly believe that while chemotherapy would still be used, it would be used on a smaller scale and our children can be protected from the unknown side effects of chemotherapy and radiation down the road. No one knows for sure the long-term negative effects of chemotherapy.
But for now, it is the best we have. Think of chemotherapy as a sledgehammer; and this novel strategy the scalpel.In December of 2008 we started The Max Cure Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation to benefit pediatric cancer causes. While The Max Cure Fund at Memorial Sloan Kettering will be the primary beneficiary of The Max Cure Foundation, we will be supporting other worthy causes focused on pediatric cancer treatments and improving the lifestyle of children battling the disease.