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Christina Applegate to Headline illumination Gala

Event Supports Personalized Cancer Treatment at Siteman

Jason Merrill

January 21, 2009 – Award-winning actress and breast cancer survivor Christina Applegate will emcee Barnes-Jewish Hospital’s illumination09, the 10th annual gala benefiting the Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine. The event is scheduled for May 16 at the Ritz-Carlton in Clayton, Mo.

The gala and its auction and afterparty will support Siteman’s research into personalized cancer treatment, which involves identifying and providing specific therapies based on patients’ individual genetic profiles.

“We can’t treat patients with a one-size-fits-all attitude,” says A. Craig Lockhart, MD, MHS, director of the developmental therapeutics program at Siteman. “Personalizing care is the way of the future.”

Lockhart’s current work offers an example of this personalized approach. It involves drawing blood to test a patient’s genotype for a particular protein that works with certain chemotherapies. “If you have a particular genotype, you may be sensitive to a particular chemo drug, and it may be a good drug for you,” Lockhart says. “However, if you have a different genotype, your tumor is likely resistant to that chemotherapy, and we need to treat you with something else.”

“Siteman Cancer Center’s research into personalized medicine is an example of why Barnes-Jewish and Washington University are national leaders in medicine,” says Andy Ziskind, MD, Barnes-Jewish Hospital president. “The gala's focus on personalizing care will make a profound difference for patients with cancer treated at Siteman.”

Christina Applegate
Actress and cancer survivor Christina Applegate. 
As a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center, Siteman is one of the few centers in the nation currently offering personalized medicine for some forms of leukemia and lung, colon, breast and thyroid cancer. Still, experts say more research – and more research dollars – will be needed across the broad spectrum of cancers.

“Cancer chemotherapy drugs have too many side effects, and cancer is too serious a disease to treat patients with drugs that will be ineffective for them,” Lockhart says.

Genetics played a role in Applegate’s surprising diagnosis of breast cancer last July at age 36. The Emmy and Golden Globe winner inherited the BRCA gene from her mother, also a breast cancer survivor. Beating breast cancer led the Samantha Who? star to campaign to raise awareness, telling Oprah Winfrey in October, “This is my opportunity now to go out and fight as hard as I can for early detection.”

Gala co-chairs Susan Sherman and Alicia Tlapek; honorary co-chairs Amy and Bill Koman; Barnes-Jewish Hospital president Andy Ziskind, MD; and Siteman director Timothy Eberlein, MD, will headline illumination09 with Applegate. For more information about tickets and sponsorships, contact Helen Liu at 314-286-2241 or