Local woman says unprecedented biotech venture helped save her life
Linda Lowe initially given two months to live
Last Updated: 243 days ago
LA JOLLA, Calif. - A local woman was given about two months to live, but more than two years later, she is alive and doing well and she is crediting a biotech partnership with saving her life.
"I'm bald and bruised, but still fighting," said Linda Lowe.
More than two years ago, the bone marrow disease living in her body -- MDS, the same disease affecting "Good Morning America" anchor Robin Roberts -- turned into leukemia.
"Typically, a person has about 180,000 platelets. I was down to two," said Lowe.
Doctors told her she had a short time to live, likely months. Her condition was too grave for a bone marrow transplant.
Lowe's search for answers led to the UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center and a clinical trial born from a unique annual symposium at the center mixing academia and the pharmaceutical industry. The 9th annual Industry/Academia Translational Oncology Symposium was held in La Jolla on Thursday.
Because of the bonds formed during the previous symposiums, researchers called up pharmaceutical company Pfizer to compare notes on a new drug for other cancers.
"Together we were able to reach a conclusion very quickly, that this drug may be very effective in leukemia," said Ida Deichaite, director of industry relations for the Moores Cancer Center.
A year later -- fast for the research world -- Lowe was on an experimental drug that blocked cancer cells from cloning themselves. A year later, she qualified for a bone marrow transplant, and she is now in remission.
"I don't know what would have happened if this collaboration hadn't taken place,” said Lowe.
10News confirmed an unprecedented project is moving forward. Next to the Moores Cancer Center, rising from a parking lot, will be an incubator of sorts.
Big pharmaceutical companies and biotech startups will be housed in the same building as academic researchers, fostering the sharing of knowledge. It's the type of collaboration Lowe said helped her to see her first three grandchildren born.
"I am a product of that team of people working together," said Lowe.
UCSD hopes to have the new project built within two years. The school says if successful, it could mean more biotech startups and local jobs.
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