UofL Hospital introduces first of its kind immunotherapy cancer treatment to Kentucky
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - A groundbreaking grant at UofL Hospital was announced Tuesday that will allow them to create a first of its kind cancer treatment facility to the region. If not for a $1 million donation from Louisville resident Tom Dunbar, this wouldn’t be possible.
Dunbar lost his son to cancer at the age of 6 in 2001.
“Imagine what would have happened If I had started earlier, done more, if we all started earlier, funding cancer research decades ago,” Dunbar said. “My son might still be alive.”
It’s called Chimeric Antigen Receptor Positive T, or CAR T, cell therapy. The basic theory behind it is to develop cells to help one’s own immune system kill cancerous cells.
On Tuesday, WAVE 3 News checked out the space where this science is being done at the James Graham Brown Cancer Center. The cells that are being developed in the pediatric and adult labs will be sent across the country.
“A huge percentage of those patients can have long term durable responses remissions,” UofL Department of Surgery Chair Kelly McMasters said. “We hesitate to use the word cure, but that’s what it is, for things that were incurable.”
McMasters said this program will be the first of its kind in this area of the country. People will no longer have to travel to New York or travel coast to coast to get CAR T therapy.
Dunbar was grateful for all the thanks he received, but said that’s not what he’s there for.
“What I really want is to see people who would not have been cured walk away with no side effects,” Dunbar said. “That’s what I want, and I think that’s what everyone here wants.”
The million-dollar donation is enough to get the program up and running for a few years, but it still needs more donations to stay on its feet.
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