National recognition for Dallas cancer research




Posted on August 4, 2010 at 5:15 PM

Updated Wednesday, Aug 4 at 5:43 PM

DALLAS — UT Southwestern Medical Center on Wednesday received a National Cancer Institute designation — a high honor that will mean better cancer care in North Texas.

Doctors John Minna and Adi Gazdar have cultivated the largest lung cancer cell line in the world in a UT Southwestern lab, endeavoring to help patients who often have no hope.

Within those tumor cells could be the answer to lung cancer.

"When Dr. Gazdar and I started out in this, it was a total death sentence," Dr. Minna said. "Actually, the first part of our research showed that 15 to 20 percent that could be cured with this type of therapy, and we're hoping now to extend it to much greater."

The chance of reaching that goal got better with Wednesday's announcement.

"The nation's leading supporter of cancer research and treatment advances conferred upon UTSW formal recognition as one of the nation's official designated cancer centers," said UT Southwestern President Dr. Daniel Podolsky.

With the honor comes prestige to attract top doctors, along with federal funds — $7 million immediately.

But the impact on patients may be the most important factor.

"It means that we will have access to early treatments in the form of clinical trials," explained Simmons Cancer Center director Dr. James Willson, adding that patients at UT Southwestern hospitals — including Children's and Parkland — will be first in line for the most promising and newest medical discoveries available.