When I look back on 2018, I see tremendous growth and progress in the field of NETs and in NETRF. We are proud of our role in this and grateful to the thousands of patients, families, and donors who joined us in the quest for better treatments and cures for neuroendocrine tumors.
PRRT offers U.S. patients more options
2018 was off to a game-changing start when the FDA approved Lutetium 177 dotatate for gastrointestinal and pancreatic NETs—the first PRRT radiopharmaceutical approved in the United States. This major advancement opened the door for U.S. hospitals and health systems to offer this treatment to more patients than ever before. Weeks later, NETRF invested in new grants aimed at improving the effectiveness of PRRT and understanding why not all patients respond to the treatment. Our funded researchers are studying why some tumor cells are resistant to PRRT. A second project explores whether a novel radionuclide, terbium or Tb-161 dotatoc, can more accurately kill tumor cells; the particle was tested in humans for the first time last year.
NETRF seed funding kick-starts greater investments in NETs
Two NETRF funded researchers were awarded prestigious Career Development Awards from the American Society of Clinical Oncology, based on NETRF pilot projects. Those projects focus on using blood rather than tumor biopsies to monitor patients and identifying whether and how the immune system can be harnessed to fight pancreatic NETs. An NIH clinical trial grew from NETRF-funded research that discovered sapanisertib, a targeted therapy capable of overcoming resistance to everolimus.
The pattern in this progress? NETRF plays a vital role in the search for better treatments and cures by strategically funding research to make existing treatments better and to find new ones. Particularly when we fund pilots, or proof of concepts, we are supporting new ideas and young scientists who may not be funded by larger cancer organizations or government. Our dollars, and your gifts, go further when we can leverage our investments for greater impact.
Connecting with individuals living with NETs
NETRF’s reach also grew in 2018 through visits with support groups, patient conferences, and expanded educational material. It was very rewarding to meet with so many of you and see such a positive response to our work and our Spark Hope campaign. Our visits will continue in 2019, along with an announcement of some new, exciting educational resources.
There’s always a sad note when we reflect on last year. We remember our losses—in our communities, our support groups, and even on the national stage with Aretha Franklin. That’s what fuels NETRF each and every day to raise more funds, support more scientists, and reach out to more patients and families in need of information and hope. To each one of the 1,800 donors who made a difference by supporting NETRF in 2018, our sincere gratitude.
NETRF Chief Executive Officer