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Stand Up To Cancer Funds Boston Research, Clinical Trials For Patients

BOSTON (CBS) - Fighting cancer one contribution at a time, that's what's happening Friday night on Channel 4 and on the other TV networks and many cable outlets. The star-studded fundraiser is called Stand Up To Cancer, and it's making a difference right here in Boston.

Dr. Irene Ghobrial is an oncologist at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.  She's working on potentially groundbreaking research into blood cancers, research funded by Stand Up To Cancer.

"It's extremely important I can tell you.  Stand Up To Cancer has really changed the way we think, and has actually enabled us, for the first time, to start a screening test for blood cancers," she says.

Stand up to cancer
Dr. Irene Ghobrial, oncologist at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, and one of her patients, Becky Nutley. (WBZ-TV)

In fact a study backed by a $10-million grant from the telecast is about to begin.

"It makes an idea come true," says Dr. Ghobrial.

Becky Nutley, who lives on the South Shore, is one of Dr. Ghobrial's patients.

"I have multiple myeloma, which is a blood cancer which effects your plasma cells and your bone marrow," she says.  Becky was diagnosed 4 years ago.  Since there's no cure for myeloma, she was enrolled in a clinical trial at Dana Farber funded, in part, by Stand Up To Cancer.

"Within the first 6 weeks of the clinical trial with this drug, my cancer cells were cut in half," Becky explains.

Unfortunately the effects didn't last for Becky, but a stem cell transplant and additional medications have put her cancer into remission.  Other patients in the trial had better results.

"We've had an excellent response rate in that trial.  We've prevented progression in many patients," says Dr. Ghobrial.

And funding for Stand Up To Cancer has supported that kind of work for years.

"For Stand Up To Cancer to take a risk on a very early idea, and put that much funding and effort and excitement about it, to completely change the way we think of blood cancer or even screening for blood cancers, and that would be the first time we make the difference," says Dr. Ghobrial.

The biggest names in entertainment are joining together for CBS' Stand Up To Cancer fundraising special.  Among the performers are Stevie Wonder and Little Big Town. 

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