SU2C Dream Team: Revolutionary Treatment For Prostate Cancer

SU2C Dream Team: Revolutionary Treatment For Prostate Cancer

To learn more and to support the research of Stand Up To Cancer’s Dream Teams, tune in Friday, Sept. 5 at 5 p.m. PT/8 p.m. ET, to watch our live streamed star-studded fundraising event. Tune in to Yahoo Live to watch!

By Katie Couric

Every minute, cancer takes a life in the United States — that's more than 1,500 Americans every single day. In fact, cancer is the second leading cause of death in our country, and we need to fight it now before it becomes the leading cause.  For me, the battle is personal. I lost my husband Jay and my sister Emily to cancer.

In 2008, I joined a group of passionate women to start a grassroots movement called Stand Up To Cancer. Our vision: to accelerate the pace of research and get new treatments to save lives faster.

Within six years, we have raised $261 million dollars and have created Dream Teams, bringing together the best and the brightest researchers to work collaboratively to advance cancer research. One Dream Team is focusing on prostate cancer, the second leading cause of cancer death in American men.  The team is studying the genetic profiles of patient tumors to better understand why certain treatments work for some men and not for others. "If we can study the cancer of individual patients in the laboratory and find out what is causing the differences, then that could lead to better diagnosis and better treatment," says Dr. Yu Chen.

Dr. Chen, an oncologist specializing in prostate cancer at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, is working with the Dream Team focused on prostate cancer. He is experimenting with a revolutionary technique that could change the way this cancer is treated — isolating tumor cells from a patient and growing them in a laboratory. These growing tumor cells are called tumor organoids, one of the "holy grails of studying cancer," says Chen. "We can look at them with or without drugs and see what happens to them over time. Do they look like they shrink? Do they look like they disappear? Or do they continue to grow?...This allows you to study multiple drugs at the same time, whereas of course, in a patient, you can only give one drug at the same time."

The method is in clinical trials now, but Dr. Chen hopes that one day, tumor organoids will be routine in guiding patient care and treatment.

Who do you think is a global game changer, and what person would you like to see featured in this series? Let me know on Twitter (@katiecouric) or Tumblr.