November 2018


Why is it taking so long?

Good question. Hard question. Very cool answer.

A few weeks ago, we experienced a particularly inspirational tour of the Saltzman/Leonard Cancer Research Lab at the University of Minnesota where many questions were answered.

Along with a group of Dr. Leonard’s Cancer Research Fund supporters and donors, Lance Augustin, the Lead Scientist in the lab for the past 11 years, presented the newest strategies and combination therapies that are the focus of the cancer research today.

It is important to know that the world research community is working hard and working together to resolve the cancer problem. And they expect to resolve it within the next decade!!!

The side effects of current cancer therapies do not allow therapies to be applied aggressively enough to save the lives of most patients.

So, the most important work now in the lab is minimizing toxicity by creating the “best bug” and optimizing this “bug” for tumor targeting. This is accomplished by hundreds of experiments with different combinations of the genetically engineered materials.

The bug that the lab has in hand today, is very close to completion. Indeed, it could even be ready to go to clinical trial as a very useful cancer therapy. However, there are several reasons to push the science even further, to reach for the very best combination of optimal tumor targeting with minimal toxicity.

For starters, 95% of clinical trials fail. In part, this is due to the fact that many labs use a method to study mice that does not replicate how cancers work in humans. Our lab uses a mouse colony that is engineered to mimic human cancer, called the autochthonous approach, which more closely follows the way cancer develops in people.

Also, it is vital to go to the FDA with the very best therapy that can be presented. Failure in clinical trial can be the end of the program.

Most importantly, we want to deliver the most effective therapy that can be engineered because this is what we all want. This is what the world needs.

The lab is in the end, cure-ative stage of developing this innovative therapy.

Once the very best therapy has been achieved through the research in the Saltzman/Leonard lab, it will be time to move this therapy to human clinical trial. It is invigorating to hear from Lance that this is what he goes to bed thinking about, and what he wakes up thinking about. Every Day. The research is in good hands.

So, why is it taking so long?

This is complicated, detailed work that takes time to advance or eliminate each combination being considered for highest efficacy of the bug. The pace of this work depends on how many hands and minds can be on the research bench. And this is based on funding.

Because of your generosity, the Saltzman/Leonard lab has been able to keep up a brisk pace, and is at the top of the game. This was confirmed when the National Institutes of Health and National Cancer Institute invited the lab to present at their International Conference last year.


Lance Augustin explained that the University of Minnesota is one of the very best research facilities to be working in due to the availability of research equipment and top research personnel (great minds) that have contributed to quickening the pace of this project.

100% of your contribution to Dr. Leonard’s Cancer Research Fund goes to the lab to quicken the pace. Dr. Leonard personally covers all overhead administrative costs of the cancer fund so that every dollar that is given goes to the lab.

Many of you have been supporting the research since the very beginning, when Dr. Leonard and Dr. Saltzman had this “hair brained idea” that has become one of the leading cancer research therapy strategies in the International arena.

To some, it may seem like this is taking long. But we would like to offer the argument that this important work is progressing diligently with many wildly innovative benchmarks being met at regular intervals, with the end in sight.

It takes patience to follow this to the end, and we are completely confident about the ability of this cancer therapy to become the way cancer is treated in the near future.

In a very simplistic description, what if someone who finds out they have cancer, could go to their doctor to receive an oral dose of this cancer therapy, and go home with no side effects as tumors are targeted while immune memory is established. And the cancer is eliminated. It sounds crazy, but it is not that far from the end result that we are talking about, and what your donations are being used to develop.

We hope you will stick with us, to see this to the beautiful end. We will be at the finish line, and hope to find you standing next to us there. Thank you for your confidence and patience, it has not gone unnoticed and is very much appreciated.


Bonnie and Doc