Retired Firefighters Donate Funds to Further the Fight Against Glioblastoma

Donation brings total given to Roswell Park to $62,000
Thursday, August 1, 2019
Highlights: 
$15,000 gift to benefit brain cancer research
Fund’s fourth donation to Roswell Park since 2012
Fund has donated $283,000 to cancer research across North America

BUFFALO, N.Y. — A group of retired firefighters dedicated to raising funds for cancer research recently visited Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center to make a significant donation that will go toward brain cancer research.

The firefighters are members of the Retired Professional Fire Fighters Cancer Fund, a nonprofit organization based in Binghamton, New York. Their $15,000 donation will provide critically needed funding for continuing research involving the SurVaxM vaccine for the common and aggressive brain cancer called glioblastoma, which is very difficult to treat. 

SurVaxM, developed by a Roswell Park team, works by stimulating the immune system to attack an antigen called survivin, which is present in the cells of glioblastoma and many other kinds of tumors. A phase II clinical trial of SurVaxM conducted with patients with newly diagnosed glioblastoma has just been completed at five cancer centers with very promising results.

“We essentially saw significant increase in both progression-free and overall survival, which is noteworthy in patients with such a notoriously aggressive and treatment-resistant disease,” says Robert Fenstermaker, MD, Chair of the Department of Neurosurgery, Director of the Neuro-Oncology Program and SurVaxM co-inventor with Michael Ciesielski, PhD, Director of the Neuro-Oncology Lab at Roswell Park.

More than $2 million in donor funding has helped bring SurVaxM to this point. “We’re thankful for the donations that have brought us to this point and eager to bring this treatment to more patients as soon as we can,” Dr. Fenstermaker says. The next step on the road to FDA approval is a randomized controlled clinical trial that could be available at 15 or more cancer centers in the next year.

William Newland, a retired Binghamton Fire Fighter and the President of the fund, says that this gift to Roswell Park brings their total raised and donated to established, promising cancer research programs to $283,000 since 2010. The group typically funds research for types of cancer that have a higher occurrence rate among firefighters. Today’s gift also marks the group’s fourth donation to Roswell Park, bringing their total giving to the cancer center to $62,000. Previous gifts have supported urology, lung cancer and leukemia research.

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Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center is a community united by the drive to eliminate cancer’s grip on humanity by unlocking its secrets through personalized approaches and unleashing the healing power of hope. Founded by Dr. Roswell Park in 1898, it is the only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center in Upstate New York. Learn more at www.roswellpark.org, or contact us at 1-800-ROSWELL (1-800-767-9355) or ASKRoswell@RoswellPark.org.

Media Contact: 

Bethany Murray, Senior Communications Coordinator
716-845-1027; bethany.murray@roswellpark.org