Golfers Against Cancer takes great pride in identifying novel cancer research projects dedicated to specific work targeting various forms of cancer. One such area the organization has supported involves immunotherapy or immune-oncology. According to the Cancer Research Institute, it is defined as a form of treatment that uses the power of the body’s own immune system to prevent, control and eliminate cancer.

One of GAC’s beneficiaries — Houston Methodist Hospital — has been involved in a number of cancer research efforts utilizing immunotherapy. GAC is proud to have helped fund some of these projects. Now Houston Methodist is looking at a form of immunotherapy in hopes of curbing the effects of COVID-19. They are the first hospital in the nation to try the experimental therapy which involves a transfusion of blood from a patient who has recovered from COVID-19 into a critically ill patient.

The treatment has been fast-tracked as the death toll from the pandemic continues to rise. The Food and Drug Administration approved Methodist's "emergency investigational new drug" application to test the therapy. They are recruiting more blood plasma donors who have tested positive for the virus at the system’s hospitals. Plasma from someone who has recovered from COVID-19 contains antibodies made by the immune system to attack the virus. The hope is that transfusing such plasma into a patient still fighting the virus may transfer the power of the antibodies into a healing, possibly lifesaving therapy. GAC Founder and Co-Chair Bobby Jones said there are a number of organizations helping in this cause. In addition to the fine work at Houston Methodist, MD Anderson is another GAC beneficiary that is a leader in seeking solutions to critical diseases. Their own Dr. Jim Allison, who was GAC’s Person of the Year in 2018 won the Nobel Prize that same year for his work in immunology. And we’re also proud that our GAC Dinners for Cancer Research in New York City and Boston have supported similar work at institutions in those areas. Though it is too early to know if the therapy is benefiting patients, medical scientists remain hopeful.

Dan McIntyre, who is the GAC Co-Chair along with Jones, said, “I think I speak for all of the board members, sponsors and volunteers of our organization when I say that we couldn’t be more pleased that the dollars we raise provide so much value to medical research. And sometimes therapies targeting cancer can in one form or another help in curing other diseases like the one our nation is faced with today.”

For more information, go to the GAC website at golfersagainstcancer.org.

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