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The Culprit is Cancer

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Fall 1998
The Culprit is Cancer
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Slamon is still hopeful. Other therapies like Herceptin are in early- stage trials for the treatment of lung, prostate and other cancers. There are many genetic alterations that might one day be targetable.

And the Revlon money brokered for Slamon by Lilly Tartikoff may enable additional groundbreaking research. Ronald O. Perelman's largesse is currently funding nutrition studies of breast cancer patients; enhancing the success of bone marrow transplants; and financing laboratory studies of a gene known as P53, which is mutated in 50 to 60 percent of women with ovarian cancer.

Slamon is also using these resources to educate women about the crucial value to patients and to medical research of human trials. He's founded a network of outreach programs in community clinics throughout Southern California.

"I really don't believe what made the difference is that we were so much smarter than anybody else," he says modestly of his team's success. "But we believed something before anybody else believed it; we believed that screening tumors for genetic alterations to develop new therapies was a worthwhile endeavor. A number of my colleagues thought it wasn't a terribly useful thing to do. But it paid off.

"I'd like to tell you I had all these great insights," says Dennis Slamon, the man who won a big round in the fight against breast cancer. "But the science was straightforward and I just believed it would work."

Senior writer Mona Gable's profile of California Assembly Speaker Antonio Villaraigosa appeared in the July issue of UCLA Magazine.

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