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New Weapons for War on Cancer

September 6th, 2017

What does the next generation of cancer therapies look like? How do new treatments harness the power of the immune system to fight cancer at the cellular level? And how do economic realities impact the development of treatments? At the next STEM Café, Barrie Bode, an NIU professor and chair of the Department of Biological Sciences, will discuss emerging cancer therapies that hold considerable promise for patients. He’ll also address some of the challenges surrounding these new treatments.

The free event will be held on Wednesday, September 13, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Fatty’s Pub and Grille, 1312 W. Lincoln Highway in DeKalb.

Bode, who holds a Ph.D. in biochemistry and molecular biology, has been working in the field of cancer research for more than 25 years. Since 1997, he’s been funded by the National Cancer Institute to study certain proteins in the liver that might prove key to new cancer treatments.

“From my years in the cancer research field and academic experience in teaching biochemistry, molecular biology and physiology,” Bode says, “I have become familiar with the complex nature of cancer biology and therapeutics.”

At the STEM Café, Bode will introduce the audience to the current state of cancer research and treatment. “People may be surprised to learn that cancer is not a single disease and that the historical concept of ‘curing’ all cancers is yielding instead to a ‘management’ mindset by clinicians and cancer biologists,” he says.

Bode will also describe the next generation of cancer therapies. “Unlike traditional cancer (chemo)therapies,” he says, “this next generation of treatments harnesses the power of our immune system to fight cancers.”

The new therapies have the potential to be very effective, even though “they are inherently more expensive to manufacture and administer.” Bode says. “Innovative thinking in this area will make therapies that emerge from the research more affordable.”

While Bode hopes to inspire people by the scientific progress in cancer research, he will also address some of the economic constraints that impact cancer research. “Funding for cancer research is at a crossroads,” he says. “We really need an honest conversation as a nation about how we will support progress in this area moving forward.”

At the STEM Café, food and drinks will be available for purchase from Fatty’s.

Monthly STEM Cafés are offered through NIU STEAM Works, part of the university’s Center for P-20 Engagement. Each STEM Café provides an opportunity to learn about the science, technology, engineering and mathematics that are a part of our everyday lives.

All STEM Cafés are free and open to the public. For more information, contact Judy Dymond at jdymond@niu.edu or 815-753-4751.

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