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LHHS Subcommittee Hearing -- Testimony of Steve Case Presentation of an interesting plan to speed up the search for the cure!

Posted on: 06/05/2002

June 4, 2002

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LHHS Subcommittee Hearing -- Testimony of Steve Case

Testimony of Steve Case
Chairman, AOL Time Warner
Senate Appropriations Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Subcommittee hearing on cancer research

June 4, 2002

Thank you, Chairman Harkin, for this opportunity to share my thoughts here today before this subcommittee.

My name is Steve Case and I am the Chairman of AOL Time Warner. In that role, I have often testified before Senate Subcommittees -- but never before about a matter so close to my heart.

I am here today not as the chairman of a company, but as the brother of a brave man who is fighting a terrible illness -- and as a concerned citizen who is determined to help accelerate a cure for brain cancer.

My older brother Dan was diagnosed with brain cancer in March of 2001 ? and our lives have never been the same.

As Dan has struggled to overcome his illness, our family has struggled to learn as much as we can about brain cancer ... to educate ourselves about the most effective forms of treatment and promising new therapies ... and, of course, to come to terms with the enormous emotional toll cancer takes on an entire family.

In this, we are like the millions of Americans whose lives are profoundly affected by cancer when a loved one becomes seriously ill.

And, like so many others, we didn't want to wait passively for a cure -- we wanted to take action.

As a business person who believes strongly in the entrepreneurial model of active engagement, innovation and partnership, I felt we could apply some of those lessons to the challenge of accelerating a cure for brain cancer.

So, together with the Case Foundation and leading scientists and entrepreneurs from around the country, we formed ABC2 -- a foundation designed to assess the state of brain cancer research, treatment and prevention and find new ways to improve our progress, using an entrepreneurial model.

It has been a long journey -- and there is still far to go. So I'd like to take a moment to tell you about what we have learned, what we think is working and what we think we could be doing better.

Let's start with what's working.

At one end of the spectrum, we have learned that basic research is well handled by large governmental institutions and academic centers -- although I hasten to add that we must increase funding for brain cancer research at both the National Cancer Institute and the National Institute of Health.

At the other end of the spectrum, we've seen how patient advocacy and support groups are doing a great job providing information, resources and comfort to cancer patients and their friends and families.

But, we have also seen a real lack in what is known as "translational research" -- the translation of great basic science into practical clinical realities for patients.

We have also seen a tremendous need for commercial sponsorship -- without which no drug can be successfully developed or marketed.

This is particularly critical when it comes to brain cancer, since the relatively small number of patients discourages pharmaceutical companies from committing the funds to develop products to treat this disease.

And, we have also seen that even as promising new treatments are envisioned, the implementation and aggregation of good ideas is lagging behind.

So, with this as a very basic background, I want to tell you about what ABC2 is doing to change the equations for brain cancer patients.

As I mentioned a moment ago, ABC2 is founded on the idea that entrepreneurialism -- which depends on innovation, rapid response, partnership and results-driven strategies -- can actually leverage existing developments and accelerate therapies to cure brain cancer.

How does that translate in real terms?

First, in the year since we launched ABC2, we have awarded grants awards to 21 investigators at 9 leading academic institutions to accelerate therapies from the lab into the clinic.

Just as important -- and what makes this unique -- is that we track these researchers' progress, to ensure accountability, help them overcome obstacles and improve the outcomes of projects we support.

Second, ABC2 has also created a preclinical evaluation center at Duke University -- a leading academic institution -- to test promising cancer therapies in preclinical models of the disease.

This is a cost-effective way of seeing what's working -- and then, if results are favorable, working together to move these therapies more rapidly into clinical trials.

Third, ABC2 created our first collaboration with a for-profit entity, Genentech, consistent with our charitable mission. This unique collaborative effort helps Genentech to improve its risk/reward ratio so it can develop new therapies specifically for brain cancer.

Let me sketch out how this works.

Genetech does basic research and presents its results to ABC2. If results are favorable, ABC2 will share development costs through Phase I and II clinical trials -- and share our great relationships with leading academic centers. If early trials are positive, Genentech funds Phase III and markets the product, and ABC2 receives a royalty on product sales.

It's a perfect example of how the entrepreneurial model can work in this new arena -- developing and accelerating a new therapy to treat brain cancer.

I'm proud to tell you that ABC2 has already received inquiries from other companies to pursue similar agreements -- and I really think this is a very promising step on the road to a cure.

But let me be clear. I am by no means suggesting that the market alone can find a cure for brain cancer, or that someone like me can singlehandedly fund a new treatment. In fact, I am suggesting the opposite.

No single entity will find a cure for brain cancer by working alone.

The only way we will find a cure for brain cancer is by working together. And that is the most important lesson we have learned.

Many of you may not know that my brother Dan is a legendary venture capitalist -- someone who seeks out great ideas and transforms them into profitable action. Because of his life's work and passion, many new businesses have thrived.

So I think it's fitting that the same spirit of entrepreneurialism that Dan has always supported may, in the end, help to cure my brother and so many others like him.

In closing, I want to say this: We came together as a family to support my brother Dan and to seek the best possible treatment for him. To find a cure for brain cancer, we all need to come together like a family -- a family of health care professionals, researchers, law makers and community leaders, and family members themselves.

That's how we'll find a cure for brain cancer -- and I am confident that, working together, we will.

Thank you again for this opportunity.
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