Nov 30, 2018
Our host, Dr. Robin Smith, chats with Dr. Ron DePinho, professor of medicine and former president of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and an internationally recognized physician for his basic and translational research in cancer, aging, and age-associated degenerative disorders. DePinho launched the Cancer Moonshot Program, played a critical role in the amazing discovery that aging can be reversed, and has been named one of the 100 most influential health care leaders by Modern Healthcare. By 2030, there’s expected to be a 50 percent increase in the incidence of cancer, according to DePinho. Our increasing knowledge of how cancer develops, such as why the immune system does not recognize cancer, has led to development of groundbreaking drugs and the rise of precision medicine in the cancer field, which includes targeting abnormal genes in patients with cancer. DePinho notes that checkpoint blockade therapies—part of immunotherapies—have been effective in treating several kinds of cancer, while not yet being successful in others, such as pancreatic cancer. But no one in this field is giving up on developing new therapies that could provide patients with hard-to-treat types of cancer. The opportunities to prevent cancer occur in childhood, DePinho notes, including the use of tobacco and tanning beds. This knowledge has put us in a position to prevent cancer, and we should seize this opportunity. It’s important to bring the disparate groups working on cancer together because most solutions require cross-section collaboration, including those in academics, industry, government, and faith-based organizations. Since we now have stunning technological advances, including mobile connectivity, AI, You Tube, Facebook, it’s time to educate patients about their cancer risks early on. Finally, DePinho notes, we can develop vaccines that prevent cancer, as we’ve done for HPV. But we need to educate parents that this vaccine is available—and, most importantly, that it works.