One team has been working on a therapy for the epigenome, chemical compounds which essentially surround DNA. Unlike DNA, changes in the epigenome can be reversed, and Lobb explained the team has developed therapies to be administered to the epigenome before starting other traditional therapies, like chemotherapy. Treating the epigenome first may make those subsequent therapies more effective. "It has a priming effect," she said. The team is focusing on using the treatment for patients of late stage lung cancer.
Another team is working on a therapy for pancreatic cancer which may shrink previously inoperable tumors to the point where they are operable. One patient's story shows the therapy's potential.
Some of the grants are also going to young researchers with "big, bold ideas," said Lobb. "Proof of concept is not required ... these are high risk, high reward grants."
Currently the charity is not looking to have a piece of any patent or profit which may result from the treatments it's funding. "We had an awareness that doing that would have an effect of slowing us down," said Lobb, as it would make an already complicated contract process with institutions even more difficult. However, "It is something we are thinking of in the future."
The organization is a place where just about any idea will be considered. The ugly holiday sweater fundraiser was the idea of a young staffer named, appropriately, Alexis Jolly. It hasn't raised boatloads of money yet, but the free publicity and awareness coming out of it are equally valuable. MasterCard has teamed up with Ty Burrell from "Modern Family" for another SU2C holiday fundraiser, which will have the credit card company contributing to the charity every time someone uses a MasterCard.