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Foundation targets $500K for TGen cancer research

Following concrete progress this year in addressing pancreatic cancer, the 2013 Seena Magowitz Golf & Spa Weekend is poised Dec. 7 to help support continuing advances in treating this highly aggressive cancer.

Nearly 400 participants, including 200 golfers, will help the Seena Magowitz Foundation raise as much as $500,000 the weekend of Dec. 6-8 at the 11th annual event, which benefits pancreatic cancer research at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen).

The charity tournament at the world-famous Arizona Biltmore Resort and Spa is sponsored by the Seena Magowitz Foundation, which helps fund TGen’s global effort to eradicate pancreatic cancer, the nation’s fourth leading cause of cancer death.

In the coming year, TGen’s Physician-In-Chief Dr. Daniel Von Hoff has made it a priority to identify a way to detect pancreatic cancer in its early stages. Because there is no method of early diagnosis, patients are often in the late stages of this aggressive disease by the time it is discovered.

“This makes it more challenging to treat, even with new and more effective drugs,” Dr. Von Hoff said in a message to tournament participants. “I would like you to join me on a scientific quest to find a method for early detection of pancreatic cancer.”

Dr. Von Hoff said that — with the help of the Seena Magowitz Foundation — there were considerable advances made in the past year in the treatment of pancreatic cancer, including:

•    TGen’s continuing discoveries about the mechanisms of pancreatic cancer through the work of its Stand Up to Cancer (SU2C) Pancreatic Cancer Dream Team.

•    TGen’s new clinical trial, begun in September, on a drug derived from a plant known as “Thunder God vine,” a root used in traditional Chinese medicine for more than 2,000 years. Preclinical studies showed that a pharmaceutical version of the active ingredient in Thunder God proved effective against pancreatic cancer cells.

•    And most importantly, on Sept. 6 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of nab-paclitaxel (also known as Abraxane) in combination with gemcitabine as a front-line therapy for patients with advanced pancreatic cancer. In clinical trials supervised by TGen, this drug combination produced a 127 percent increase in average survival, a 59 percent increase in patients surviving at least 1 year, and a 222 percent increase in patients surviving at least 2 years.

The nab-paclitaxel/Abraxane clinical trials were funded, in part, by the Seena Magowitz Foundation.

“The progress against this disease during 2013 has been nothing short of phenomenal,” said Roger Magowitz, President of the Seena Magowitz Foundation, which he founded in honor of his mother, Seena, who died of pancreatic cancer in 2001. “Along with another successful golf tournament, it is our hope that even more progress will be made in 2014, including a method of early detection, to benefit the many patients suffering from this awful cancer.”

Karl Glassman, President of Leggett & Platt, is again this year’s tournament Honorary Chairman. He lost his mother to breast cancer and a dear friend to pancreatic cancer.

“I am humbled by the invitation to serve as this year’s Honorary Chairman of the Seena Magowitz Golf & Spa Weekend. If we continue working together in a hard-fought campaign to curb this brutal disease, I’m confident that our efforts will make a life-changing difference,” Glassman said.

Dr. Von Hoff, one of the world’s leading authorities on pancreatic cancer, and Dr. Ron Korn, founder and CEO of Imaging Endpoints, will be the keynote speakers at the 1 p.m. Dec. 7 luncheon, following that morning’s golf tournament.

The weekend events kick off from 6-11 p.m. Dec. 6 with a special “Great Gatsby” welcome reception.

The Dec. 7 golf tournament begins with registration at 7 a.m., followed by an 8 a.m. shotgun start and ugly/crazy golf pants contest. Special events for non-golfers begin at 8:30, 9:30, 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. In addition to the 1 p.m. luncheon and live auction, the weekend event is capped by an 8 p.m. Country Comfort Concert, including: Baillie & the Boys; Highway 101, featuring Paulette Carlson; Ira Dean; and Alyssa Bonagura.

“The Seena Magowitz Foundation provides national leadership and key funding for TGen’s pancreatic cancer research initiative, and thanks to their tireless volunteer efforts, companies like Leggett & Platt and Mattress Firm have involved the home furnishings industry in this historic effort to end pancreatic cancer,” said Michael Bassoff, President of the non-profit TGen Foundation.

Pancreatic cancer annually takes the lives of more than 38,000 Americans. A staggering 75 percent of those diagnosed die within the first year, and only 6 percent survive more than five years.

Tournament sponsors include: Leggett & Platt, Mattress Firm, Sleep Inc., Sealy, Serta, Michael Fux Foundation, Comfort Revolution, Protect-A-Bed, Simmons, Ellman Family Vineyards, Customatic Adjustable Bedz, Arizona Diamondbacks, La Porte Wealth Strategies Group, Morley Companies, General Wholesale Beer Company, Tempur-Pedic, Knickerbocker, Wesley Allen, Francomano & Francomano, Back To Bed, Bedding Experts, FabricTech, Glideaway, Outlast,  Englander, Donovan’s Steakhouse, DreamFit, TMGI, Subia Creative, Ameriprise, Springs Creative, King Koil, Sleep Train.

Prospective sponsors and tournament participants may contact: Roger Magowitz at 602-524-7636 or roger@seenamagowitzfoundation.org; or Liz McBeth, Tournament Director, at 757-773-3622 or liz@seenamagowitzfoundation.org.

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