Research scientist Daniel Gewirth is driven.
These days, he is leading a group of researchers at Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute to see how the body's immune system could be an effective warrior against metastatic breast cancer.
"It's an exciting line of research," Gewirth said in an interview. "We play the long-game in this business. The work we do today will hopefully lead to therapies 20 years down the road."
The heartbreaking part is that by the time some of the therapies are fine-tuned and used, it will be too late for today's patients battling some of the most aggressive forms of the disease.
Gewirth's idea has been kicking around for 10 years, and he said he began actively working on it in his lab about five years ago. "We're trying to develop new ways to develop therapies for metastatic breast cancer," he said. "One of the problems is it's a very aggressive disease."
More money was needed to carry his research further -- aimed toward developing a new stimulant for immunotherapy.
A $300,000 grant from the AVON Foundation's breast cancer research program recently awarded to Gewirth will help push his research forward.
His passion runs deep for the work his research team is conducting. He knows personal loss. A particularly aggressive form of breast cancer claimed the life of his sister-in-law. "Everybody knows somebody affected," said Gewirth, a principal research scientist at Hauptman-Woodward on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.
Specifically, Gewirth's grant will help support his group's continued research on examining how a patient's immune system can be a powerful tool for fighting metastatic breast cancer. By studying how proteins extracted from tumor cells can lead to an immune response, the goal is to help a patient's immune system recognize and attack the cancer.
"Support like this enables us to be even more aggressive in our pursuit of eradicating this disease affecting so many of our friends and loved ones," Gewirth said of the grant from AVON.
At the end of the two-year grant, Gewirth said he believes his lab will be able to show what he termed "a reasonable line of research to pursue."