BALTIMORE (WMAR) - A new lab in Baltimore gives doctors the space to create breakthrough cancer cures and save lives. The Fannie Angelos Cellular Therapeutics Lab opened today at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
"The reality is that this disease, this terrible disease, has touched probably nearly every single one of us," Gov. Larry Hogan said at the ceremonial ribbon-cutting.
He joined professors, doctors, and researchers in making the announcement.
"This is an enormous advancement and really keeps us in the highest echelon of centers that are doing the cutting edge research and therapy for cancer," Professor in Medical Oncology, Aaron Rapoport, said.
Before this new lab, cancer therapies had to be made elsewhere and shipped here. Now with the state-of-the-art facility on campus, doctors can make vaccines and continue developing cell therapies to help a patient's own immune system attack and eliminate cancer.
For Hogan, it's even more special because he received immunotherapy treatment for Lymphoma at the University of Maryland Medical Center in 2015.
"I’ve come to understand and appreciate the work of facilities like this do in ways that I never could have imagined," Hogan said.
Also at today's ceremony, Rapoport's former patient Susan Marcheski, who has been cancer-free for 18 years.
"Dr. Rapoport has given me a present and future so I just can't thank him enough," Marcheski said.
She was in one of the first immunotherapy trials at the university back in the late 1990's, after giving up hope of recovery from her diagnosis with any other method.
"I had three children at the time and one of them have just started high school so I wanted to marriages and grandchildren. Now, we have 7 grandchildren and two more on the way, which is such a blessing," Marcheski said.
The lab is named after someone who lost their battle with cancer: Fannie Angelos, who died 3 years ago. Her brother Peter, the owner of the Baltimore Oriole's, donated $1 million to the school to make the lab possible. Her son John, spoke at the ceremony about how this lab carries on her legacy.
"For her, it was important to understand the treatment, the science of everything that was going on and see how that would go in the future," John Angelos said.
The lab will also be used to develop ways to fight other illnesses, like diabetes and heart disease.