TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – It’s being called the cancer “moonshot.” During his State of the Union address in January, President Barack Obama announced an effort to speed up cancer research.
On Wednesday Vice President Joe Biden held a “cancer Moonshot summit” to bring researchers across the country together to talk about their efforts.
“I believe we can make exponential progress, exponential progress. I firmly believe we can do in the next five years what would ordinarily take ten,” Biden said.
At Morphogenesis in Tampa researchers are already working on creative approaches to speed up new treatments to fight the disease.
Kelly Pavone’s dog Holly was a part of that effort. Holly worked as a comfort dog at Moffitt Cancer Center, going room to room and bringing smiles to the faces of patients.
One day Pavone noticed a lump on her pet’s chest. She took Holly to her vet and was given stunning news.
“Cancer cells showed up on the slide, tumors showed up in her lungs, seven tumors, and he said, ‘Kelly, she’s got 90 days to live,'” Pavone said.
She sought out treatment and was told about a program to give experimental cures to dogs. “I always say if her life can save one human life, one K9 life, then it was worth it,” Pavone said.
The treatment didn’t save her dog, but Pavone maintains it did make the end of Holly’s life better.
“She continued to live a normal life. She continued her job at Moffitt up until two weeks before she died. Her quality of life was outstanding,” Pavone explained.
The program is unique. Instead of injecting a disease into test animals, it works with local vets to identify pets with specific forms of cancer and then works to give them treatment.
Emily Holman’s beloved pet had melanoma. The program is now helping her dog with a vaccine and ration treatment to reduce the size of tumors in the dog’s mouth.
“It’s worked great. You wouldn’t even know that she’s received any vaccines. She eats normal. She acts like a normal dog, no pain, nothing, no side effects,” Holman said.
Vice President Biden is asking cancer researchers to seek out unique treatment methods and to share their ideas and results with each other in order to bring treatment to humans faster.
“Time matters, days matter, minutes matter,” Biden said.