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Lampidis News

Lorena Rojas, 44, Actress, Patron, Friend, Loses Her Battle with Cancer

Lorena Rojas

It is with great sadness that we report the passing of our dear friend Lorena Rojas, who succumbed to her seven-year battle with cancer at the young age of 44. She was a wonderfully talented actress, musician and patron of the arts who graciously supported the Lampidis Cancer Foundation. Her perseverance and dedication in the face of such overwhelming odds made her an inspirational role model to many. It is a great frustration for us at the Foundation that we could not do more to help Lorena recover from her devastating illness. We all owe it to the courageous way she lived to redouble our efforts in bringing our universal cure for cancer to help other sufferers of this deadly disease. We believe that the lives of so many could at the very least be prolonged, if not saved, if only we could overcome the financial hurdles and bring 2-DG to benefit patients worldwide.

Our thoughts are with Lorena’s family at this difficult time, including her boyfriend, Jorge, and beautiful daughter Luciana.

Lorena Rojas 1971-2015: Lorena Rojas was a popular Mexican actress who starred in more than a dozen soap operas. Born in Mexico City, Mexico in 1971, she earned her first acting credits in the early 1990s. Lorena starred in such acclaimed Spanish soaps (known as telenovelas) as El Cuerpo del Deseo, Pecados Ajenos, Alcanzar Una Estrella and, most recently, the series Demente Criminal. She also appeared in films such as Manos Quietas and Aventurera.

In addition, the actress recently wrote and recorded an album of children’s music called Hijos del Sol, which was inspired by her daughter Luciana.

She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008 and became an advocate for cancer education in Latino communities. She was a dear friend and supporter of the Lampidis Cancer Foundation since its establishment in 2013. She will be greatly missed, but her spirit and inspiration will forever be guiding us.

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Lampidis News

Research Scientists Rely on Crowdfunding as U.S. Spending on Medical Research Declines

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With the National Institutes of Health (NIH) budget for medical research dropping by 25 percent in real terms over the last decade, researchers are increasingly looking to crowdsourcing to keep their work going. According to a recent article in Time magazine, the U.S. is losing its edge because of belt-tightening that’s limiting medical innovation. The article quotes Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the NIH: “We have investigators in the U.S. who have great ideas, talent, creativity and energy who are frankly at the point of giving up. That means all the talent and investment they represent is potentially being squandered.” This innovation gap has prompted a number of start-ups operating a crowdfunding model to emerge – raising small amounts of cash from lots of different people rather than a large sum from one. Websites like Experiment, Consano and Give to Cure all help researchers to raise funding for clinical trials that may accelerate new drug discovery.

At the Lampidis Cancer Foundation, we have launched a campaign on crowdfunding site GoFundMe.com to raise funding for essential lab supplies to enable Dr. Lampidis to continue his pioneering work using 2-DG as a universal treatment for cancer. It will require a massive collective effort from all of us to bring this treatment to market, which is why your help and support is so vital. As the Time article graphically illustrates, it will take 250,000 people donating just $20 each to fund our Phase II clinical trial. So think about donating a week’s worth of Starbucks to the cause. Donate today.

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Do you really want to help fight cancer?

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As consumers, we are inundated with messages on a daily basis to help raise money in the name of a cure for cancer. Some 260 nonprofit organizations in the United States alone have dedicated themselves to this cause. Together, they have budgets that exceed $2.2 billion. But the sad reality is that only a fraction of that money ends up going to where it is most needed – to research scientists who have devoted their lives to working on a cure.

One of the largest fundraisers for cancer in the US, according to their latest annual report, spent $75 million on administrative and fundraising costs but only $58m went towards research projects, and only a fraction of that went to actual research for a “cure” – a term they have ironically trademarked. Similarly, another national cancer charity spent a whopping $277 million on salaries and “general fundraising expenses” in 2012. And according to the American Institute of Philanthropy, the CEO of another prominent nonprofit cancer institute was compensated more than $1.4 million in 2013. That’s more than three times what the President is paid to lead the United States!

Organizations like these may have done a great deal to raise awareness about cancer and support cancer sufferers, but only a fraction of the dollars raised in the name of a cure actually find their way to a lab solely focused on that goal.

This is why the Lampidis Cancer Foundation is fundamentally different. As a true nonprofit foundation relying on the goodwill of volunteers to keep Dr. Lampidis’ groundbreaking research moving forward, one hundred percent of funds raised goes towards Dr Lampidis’ research, helping to fund essential laboratory supplies and technical support.

Combine this with the fact that unlike other treatments that are limited to certain cancers, Dr Lampidis offers a universal approach to treating all types of cancer – putting us on the brink of something that could benefit mankind immeasurably.

The current state of medical research has scientists fighting over an ever-decreasing slice of the funding pie. Many brilliant but disillusioned scientists end up throwing in the towel, not because they are lacking in ideas, but because they are constantly having to devote their energy to writing grants to keep their labs running. But history has taught us that it is in a lab like this where the cure for cancer will be born.

So next time you’re walking or running or swimming or jumping and donating your hard earned dollars to a cure for cancer, think about donating it to keep Dr. Lampidis’ groundbreaking work on 2-DG going. Rest assured your entire donation will be put to very good use.

To make a donation, visit http://www.gofundme.com/2-DGtrialforcancer. Alternatively, you can join us at The District Miami on February 5th for our annual fundraising event. Contact alexandra@lampidisfoundation.org for details.

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Lampidis Lab Awarded 2014 Lab of the Year

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It is with great pleasure that I share with Friends of the Lampidis Cancer Foundation the Lab of the Year Award Dr. Lampidis received this week. A rigorous assessment was conducted by the Office of Environmental Health & Safety at the University of Miami, and the award was made in recognition of outstanding performance in compliance and safety practices. Not only does Dr. Lampidis’ lab come up with life-saving discoveries, it is conducted at a safety and environmental level which is worthy of their outstanding work!

Dr. Theodore Lampidis Laboratory located at Pap 124 receiving the award.
Left to right; Melanie Peapell from EHS, Huaping Liu (Sr. Research Associate),
Dr. Lampidis and Lizzeth Meza from EHS.

At the Foundation, we are doubling our efforts to ensure that Dr. Lampidis’ Lab and his groundbreaking cancer research are adequately funded for the remainder of the current fiscal year. We are still some way from our goal of funding 2-DG through Phase 2 clinical trials. Your support and contributions are now needed more than ever.

To make a donation, please click here.

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Lampidis News

The Man With the Cure For Cancer?

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Theodore J. Lampidis from Brooklyn is a man of many talents: accomplished musician, songwriter, and stand-up comedian (his friends describe him as a cross between Woody Allen and Billy Crystal). This Harvard educated research scientist is also a Professor of Cell Biology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. And he could just be sitting on one of the holy grails of medicine – a universal cure for cancer.

Dr. Lampidis has published more than 100 research papers in respected scientific journals, but it is his latest review article, The Wonders of 2-DG, which is causing a stir in the scientific community and receiving rave reviews from his peers around the world. It is a distillation of his work over the last 30 years into glucose metabolism and its effect on cancerous tumors.

There is an elegant simplicity to Dr. Lampidis’ groundbreaking research which has universal appeal. He is a pioneer in exploring and exploiting the unique usage of glucose in cancer cells using a simple sugar compound called 2-Deoxyglucose (2-DG). His discovery is based on the fact that the cancer cells most resistant to chemotherapy found within the inner core of all solid tumors do not receive enough oxygen (a state known as hypoxia) and therefore must rely exclusively on sugar to survive. Dr. Lampidis hypothesized he could trick these hypoxic tumor cells by feeding them 2-DG and effectively starving them to death. This process (glycolysis) is so fundamental, it has survived a billion years of evolution dating back to a time when there was no oxygen in our atmosphere and the only source of energy that could be used to keep tiny microbes alive was sugar.

Dr. Lampidis’ eureka moment led to two consecutive five-year awards from the National Cancer Institute, which stated in the reviews of his research that “Dr. Lampidis’ work could eventually lead to cures in certain cancers.”

In addition, working in collaboration with Dr. Tim Murray, a world leading expert in the investigation and treatment of children with eye cancer (retinoblastoma), Dr. Lampidis and his colleagues have provided the first proof of principle that 2-DG targets and kills the hypoxic portion of cancerous tumor cells. According to Dr. Murray, “2-DG may turn out to be best thing to come along in this disease in the last 10 years.”

Based on Dr. Lampidis’ work, an FDA-approved Phase I clinical trial was conducted to determine the tolerable dose level of 2-DG. The results of the Phase I trial (which have recently been published) establish the safety of this drug and its remarkable effectiveness in killing cancerous tumors. The next stage is to investigate and develop the most effective combination treatments and drug delivery method before progressing to a Phase II clinical trial.

And that’s where he has hit a roadblock. The unfortunate reality is that since 2-DG cannot be patented, pharma companies are not interested in devoting their resources to bring this wonder drug to market. “If 2-DG could be patented, this drug would already be available to cancer sufferers worldwide. That’s the tragic reality,” says Lampidis ruefully.

A dedicated group of volunteers have banded together and established a not-for-profit foundation in 2013 to raise awareness for Dr Lampidis’ groundbreaking work. Their goal is to raise $10 million to accelerate the journey through clinical trials and FDA approval and bring this miracle cure to market.

“Every day, people are out there raising money to cure cancer,” says Leyan Phillips, Executive Director of the Lampidis Cancer Foundation. “The sad reality is that very little of that money ends up going to research scientists who are actually working on a cure. This is where the funding is needed the most.”

Phillips continues, “I find it shocking that some cancer foundation executives earn salaries in excess of $500,000 a year, and have advertising budgets the size of a major corporation. If Dr. Lampidis had a fraction of that funding, we would have a cure for cancer by now.”

Dr. Lampidis’ work has recently attracted support and interest from an eclectic group of celebrities, including Jose Feliciano, the virtuoso guitarist, singer and songwriter, and Mexican TV novella actress Lorena Rojas, herself a breast cancer sufferer. Rojas has been instrumental in raising awareness among the Hispanic community, where cancer has now overtaken heart disease as the single biggest killer.

According to Rojas, “What I love about Dr. Lampidis’ work is that his research offers a universal approach to treating all types of cancer. His work offers sufferers like me hope.”

He also has a fan from an unlikely source in music maestro DJ Irie, the official DJ of the Miami Heat who was recently recognized at an award ceremony in New York as NBA DJ of the Year. “Dr Lampidis rocks!” exclaims DJ Irie, who spent time last month visiting the Professor in his lab to learn more about his research. “I will do what I can to spread the word about his work.”

Whilst the University of Miami has been very supportive of his work, resources are limited due to budget cuts and reductions in federal funding from the National Institutes of Health, and from a team of five post graduate researchers in his lab he finds himself left with just one technician, who has been with him for 15 years.

Despite the lack of resources, he continues to be the global leader in his field, with his research attracting international interest and acclaim from as far afield as Spain and Japan, all inquiring about 2-DG’s availability for further clinical testing.

“Whenever we come up with an idea using 2-DG and cancer, we review the literature and find that Dr. Lampidis has already beaten us to it!” says one of his overseas colleagues who is now collaborating with Dr. Lampidis on rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare form of cancer that attacks skeletal muscle tissue.

“We’ve made such great progress over the last few years, the science is solid, and I really feel we’re on the brink of a universal treatment for cancer,” says Dr. Lampidis. “But without funding, there is a risk that cancer sufferers will be unable to access this treatment.”

“We’re hoping that a major benefactor will come along and see the opportunity to leave their mark on the world, to leave behind a legacy for mankind,” says Phillips.

As a call to action, they don’t come much more compelling than that.

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Big Pharma: “For every dollar spent on research, nearly twice is spent on lobbying and marketing”

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According to a recent article in The Guardian, for every dollar spent on research by the major pharmaceutical companies, nearly twice as much is spent on lobbying and marketing. This unfortunate reality is in sharp contrast to the almost daily struggle that academic researchers go through to secure funding for their work.

Industry has always played an important role in bringing new medically useful products to the public, but by industry’s nature its primary motivations are profit-driven and thus are not always in the public’s best interest. True, a pharmaceutical company is not a charity. The common argument is that they must necessarily recoup the cost of drug development, as only a small minority succeed in the marketplace.

On the other hand, taxpayer’s dollars in the form of National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants have been the life source of financial support for medical research that is directed toward serving the greater societal good. However, with government funding for medical research suffering a sharp decline, this is leaving a massive void for those academic researchers whose groundbreaking discoveries might never see the light of day, but for philanthropy.

The Lampidis Cancer Foundation is focused on filling one of those gaps by funding research that has shown huge potential for helping those suffering from cancer. Unfortunately, because the drug that is used in the research (the analog of glucose known as 2-DG), cannot be patented, little interest from industry has been forthcoming. That’s why your support is so vital to get this universal cancer treatment through the appropriate preclinical and clinical trials so that it can begin to provide hope and relief for millions of cancer sufferers worldwide.

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Lampidis News

Up to 1,000 NIH Investigators Dropped Out Last Year

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According to research conducted by Science Insider, the number of investigators fell by up to 1,000 last year, due in large part to dwindling federal funding. That suggests that after years of propping up grant numbers by squeezing the size of existing grants, the National Institutes of Health could not avoid a drastic cut in the number of investigators they funded last year.

These labs aren’t all necessarily shutting down. They could have bridge funding from their institution or be surviving by other means, such as foundation support. That’s why your financial support for Dr. Lampidis’ groundbreaking cancer research is all the more vital, particularly as we stand on the threshold of bringing this universal treatment through Phase 2 clinical trials. Help us continue in the fight against this devastating global disease.

To make a donation, click here.

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Worldwide cancer cases expected to soar by 70% over next 20 years

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With the World Health Organization (WHO) reporting yesterday that cancer cases worldwide are predicted to increase by 70% over the next two decades, the urgency to find a universal cure to this global epidemic is becoming all the more apparent. That’s why our mission to support Dr. Lampidis’ potentially game-changing research into 2-DG is so vital.

According to WHO, the incidence of cancer globally has increased in just four years from 12.7m in 2008 to 14.1m new cases in 2012, when there were 8.2m deaths. Over the next 20 years, it is expected to hit 25m a year – a 70% increase.

Even the richest countries will struggle to cope with the spiraling costs of treatment and care for patients, and the lower income countries, where numbers are expected to be highest, are ill-equipped for the burden to come.

Globally, lung cancer is the most commonly diagnosed among men (16.7% of cases) and the biggest killer (23.6% of deaths). Breast cancer is the most common diagnosis in women (25.2%) and caused 14.7% of deaths, which is a drop and only just exceeds lung cancer deaths in women (13.8%). Bowel, prostate and stomach cancer are the other most common diagnoses.

While more commitment to prevention and early detection is required in order to address the alarming rise in the cancer burden globally, philanthropy to support cancer research is increasingly important at a time when federal funding is being scaled back. Your support in the war against this devastating global disease is much needed.

Read the WHO fact sheet on cancer here.

For a Lampidis Cancer Foundation fundraising pack, please contact us at lee@lampidisfoundation.org.

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Lampidis News

Promising Results Bode Well For 2014

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Despite reduced resources in 2014, we continue to be productive here at the Lampidis Cancer Research Lab at UM.

From in vitro to in vivo results and now completion of a Phase I trial, we have demonstrated that 2-deoxyglucose (2-DG) is able to kill the most resistant cancer cell populations found within every solid tumor, regardless of its type.

Our research this coming year will be focused on investigating how and why 2-DG can best be delivered and applied in combination with other therapeutic drugs. Mechanisms by which metabolic pathways can be targeted simultaneously to yield maximal anti-tumor effects with specific emphasis on energy as well as ER stress will be studied. And we have obtained some encouraging preliminary results: Alzet pump low-dose continuous delivery of 2-DG (below an insulin-inducing response) appears to be effective in reducing tumor growth. We have identified combinations with 2-DG and non-chemotherapeutic agents that are highly effective in vivo in controlling human melanoma cell growth.

With your support, we can accelerate our efforts to bring this universal treatment to cancer patients worldwide.

Here’s a selection of our recently published papers:

Targeting cisplatin-resistant human tumor cells with metabolic inhibitors. Sullivan EJ, Kurtoglu M, Brenneman R, Liu H, Lampidis TJ. Cancer Chemother Pharmacol. 2013 Dec 19. [Epub ahead of print]. View Article

Increased sensitivity to glucose starvation correlates with downregulation of glycogen phosphorylase isoform PYGB in tumor cell lines resistant to 2-deoxy-D-glucose. Philips KB, Kurtoglu M, Leung HJ, Liu H, Gao N, Lehrman MA, Murray TG, Lampidis TJ. Cancer Chemother Pharmacol. 2013 Dec 1. [Epub ahead of print]. View Article

Conversion of 2-deoxyglucose-induced growth inhibition to cell death in normoxic tumor cells. Liu H, Kurtoglu M, Cao Y, Xi H, Kumar R, Axten JM, Lampidis TJ. Cancer Chemother Pharmacol. 2013 Jul;72(1):251-62. doi: 10.1007/s00280-013-2193-y. Epub 2013 May 23. View Article

Endoplasmic reticulum stress induced by 2-deoxyglucose but not glucose starvation activates AMPK through CaMKKβ leading to autophagy. Xi H, Barredo JC, Merchan JR, Lampidis TJ. Biochem Pharmacol. 2013 May 15;85 (10):1463-77. doi: 10.1016/j.bcp.2013.02.037. Epub 2013 Mar 13. View Article

Models and discovery strategies for new therapies of retinoblastoma. Houston SK, Lampidis TJ, Murray TG. Expert Opin Drug Discov. 2013 Apr; 8(4):383-94. doi: 10.1517/17460441.2013.772975. Epub 2013 Feb 22. Review. View Article

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Why your support is so vital

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One question we get asked a lot is “Why is your Foundation different from any other cancer foundation that funds cancer research?” A reasonable question from any potential donor, and one I asked myself before committing to the cause.

Over the past year I have learned a lot about cancer and cancer treatments, and as a layman tried to educate myself about the science behind Dr. Lampidis’ groundbreaking research. One key factor that attracted me and made me become an advocate for his work was the elegant simplicity of his science. He uses a false sugar called 2-DG to literally starve tumor cells which rely on glucose to survive in a non-oxygen (hypoxic) environment. This process (glycolysis) is so fundamental, it has survived a billion years of evolution dating back to a time when there was no oxygen in our atmosphere and the only source of energy that could be used to sustain life was sugar.

Combined with the fact that unlike other treatments that are limited to certain cancers, Dr Lampidis offers a universal approach to treating all types of cancer – and we are on the brink of something that could benefit mankind immeasurably.

So why aren’t pharmaceutical companies jumping all over this research to be first to market with a 2-DG wonder drug, you might reasonably ask? The unfortunate reality is that since this analog of glucose cannot be patented, drug companies are not financially motivated to devote their resources to help us develop it for further clinical trials. And although Dr. Lampidis has received almost continuous funding from the government in the form of National Cancer Institutes of Health Awards to investigate how and why 2-DG can best be delivered and applied in combination with other therapeutic drugs, due to dwindling federal resources, he must turn to philanthropy to keep his vital research moving forward.

Cancer is something that affects us all – whether personally or through someone who is close. As I approach the anniversary of the death of my best friend to this devastating disease this week, our efforts to bring this universal treatment to the world take on added relevance and poignancy for me personally. But whatever your motivation, if you’re looking for reasons to support us, given the far-reaching implications of Dr. Lampidis’ work the opportunity to be a part of this global legacy is hopefully reason enough.

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