Innovative, life-saving research is one of the keys to ending colorectal cancer in our lifetime. Yet, colorectal cancer does not receive the funding or attention it deserves relative to its devastating impact.
The Colorectal Cancer Alliance is changing that. Read on to learn how your generous support is making it possible.
Leading the way by funding research innovation
The Alliance is committed to providing $30 million in research funding for colorectal cancer by 2026. Our voice as advocacy leaders pushing for advancements in knowledge, coupled with our own investments in science and research, will lead to improved patient outcomes and the reality of defeating the disease.
During the past several years, through your generosity, the Alliance’s Chris4Life Research Program has funded fifteen research projects that explored various aspects of colorectal cancer screening, diagnosis, and treatment. Two of our other programs help patients determine and find new avenues for treatment even as their disease progresses.
Advancing Screening for Young Onset Patients
Funding through the Chris4Life Research Program supported a study led by Dr. Megan Hitchins, based at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles. Her research seeks to identify an accurate and inexpensive blood-based colorectal cancer screening test effective for younger patients.
She and her team developed a test that has positively identified the few patients in their study who were diagnosed with precancerous adenomas–a benign tumor–an encouraging sign that the screening is sensitive enough and therefore, effective, for early colorectal cancer detection. Your support allowed Dr. Hitchins to make this heartening discovery and to leverage the $150,000 grant she received from the Alliance into more than $3 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health to continue and expand her research toward discovery of the test.
Read updates about Dr. Hitchins’ study and other Alliance-funded projects from 2021 below.
2022 Research Grants
Additionally, through your contributions, we revised our research strategy, updated our priorities, and awarded seven new research grants in December of 2022.
Each of these exciting initiatives focus on one of the following categories of our research priorities:
- New targets and improved therapies: innovative early discovery and research projects that quickly transition new discoveries into immediate clinical use directed towards targets and treatments that lead to cures for greater numbers of colorectal cancer patients.
- Diagnosis, prognosis, and response: research on new predictive and diagnostic approaches to enhance personalized treatment strategies or screening to improve outcomes.
- Precise and equitable implementation of screening and care: development and evaluation of community-advised, effective, and real-world applications to overcome racial and other colorectal cancer outcome disparities.
Personalized treatment options from the comfort of home
Thanks to your donations, the Alliance has partnered with Perthera, a leading precision oncology company, to improve access to the best treatment planning for all Stage III and IV colorectal cancer patients. Powered by artificial intelligence and informed by a patient’s biomarkers and medical history, the service generates personalized treatment recommendations for the patient to discuss with their medical team. It simplifies a difficult, confusing, and disheartening search and provides expert-recommended treatment plans to lead patients to their best outcomes and in many cases, save their lives.
Clinical trials, just a click away
The success and speed of clinical trials is critical to bringing new treatments to market and allowing patients to explore additional treatment options. Often trial participation is the only option for extending survival. Yet searching for available trials - and then actually qualifying and accessing the site - can be complicated and overwhelming.
Because of supporters like you, the Alliance offers a seamless trial search and support process. With our live navigation and easy-to-use clinical trial finder tool on our website and in our BlueHQ patient platform, users will receive a list matched exactly to their cancer profile and preferences. Coupled with investment in community partnerships to support trial access, and a 2023 marketing campaign to dispel myths, increase awareness, and build trust around trials, the Alliance is investing in a multi-pronged approach to ensure we identify new treatments faster by solving the challenge of clinical trial access, trust, and participation.
Hope for a cure made possible through research
Janice Johnson’s story started with a stomach ache she thought was food poisoning. She was initially dismissed from the ER, but returned when her doctor found something concerning. She received a colonoscopy that revealed stage IIIb colon cancer, which later became metastatic. Janice connected with the Alliance, and thanks to your support, she’s learned how research developments can help her path toward survivorship. Janice received biomarker testing, a relatively new research discovery, which identified the genetic makeup of her cancer — information that could lead to scientific insights for better treatment of her specific cancer’s profile. Your commitment to the Alliance provides information and guidance like this, which gives hope to patients like Janice.
Expanding in 2023
This year, with your support, the Alliance will expand its research funding, clinical trial, biomarker testing, and implementation of science activities with an investment of at least $2 million. Chris4Life awards play a prominent role in this year’s efforts and will prioritize the following research mechanisms: pilot innovation concepts (high-risk, high-reward) from established investigators; studies led by early career investigators; and research led by women in science. Continued support toward these advancements will allow the Alliance to further develop the areas we know need the most support in colorectal cancer — the next generation of diverse scientists investigating innovative concepts to drive accelerated progress.
Save the Date!
March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, and Friday, March 3 is Dress in Blue Day (for colorectal cancer awareness). Stay tuned to Alliance channels all month for exciting news, updates and initiatives to share with family and friends.
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