Breast cancer awareness month: Breast cancer drug manufactured in Arizona

PHOENIX - Good Morning America is kicking off Breast Cancer Awareness month Tuesday and so is ABC15.  

ABC15 is taking action to bring you information on a breast cancer drug that is now being used on several other types of cancer.  

Abraxane is a drug developed by Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong. He made the discovery that it is much more effective to feed cancerous tumors than to starve them.  

He discovered that tumors are attracted to a human protein called Albumin. So he wrapped a chemotherapy drug, Paclitaxel, with the protein to make the poison more desirable to tumors. And Abraxane was born.

Then, once the tumor feeds on it, it becomes poisoned and dies.

Researchers then discovered the drug works on other kinds of cancers. Dr. Soon-Shiong says, " Now you have a drug that regardless of whether you have breast cancer, lung cancer, prostate  cancer, melanoma or pancreatic cancer..all tumors should feed on this drug and we'll  be able to kill the tumor from within."

The drug, currently, is FDA approved for breast, lung and most recently pancreatic cancer treatments.

Patients with various forms of cancer have been involved in Abraxane's clinical trials, some right here in the Valley.

"We all received this as great news, a great day for patients with pancreatic cancer," said Dr. Tom Dragovich, an Oncologist at Banner MD Anderson Medical Center.  

One of his patients, Bob Garcia, has been fighting pancreatic cancer. But just since the FDA's recent approval last month, Garcia has been using Abraxane.  

He and his wife have both seen improvement. "We know he's getting better since starting this drug," said Garcia. "It's very encouraging every week that we come to Banner."

Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong developed Abraxane years ago while working for free in the research department at the VA Hospital in Los Angeles. He's been on the forefront of cancer research ever since.  

Dr. Soon-Shiong said he believes we are closer than ever to curing cancer once and for all. He said, "It's so exciting to be on that precipice right now."

He said he believes the key to curing Cancer may be in the road map of our DNA, genomics.  

Phoenix is about to become a world stage to showcase the doctor's supercomputer invention. It is housed in a high security facility in downtown Phoenix.  

He has patented a way to find that one cell out of billions that drives an individual's cancer, and it does so at record speed.

"We can now compute the entire genome and the mutation in 47 seconds. All of this is 21st century medicine. And the idea is to bring all of this information to the local community," he said.

While Dr. Soon-Shiong looks for the next Cancer breakthrough, the Garcias are praying his past discoveries (Abraxane) will be enough for Garcia.  

Garcia said pain associated with his cancer has been alleviated.

"Every week I'm getting better and I believe some of the drugs have helped," Garcia said.

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