UVA hosted a cancer symposium to collaborate on new treatments

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (NEWSPLEX) -- Nearly 140 cancer experts met at the University of Virginia for a conference to explore cancer treatment options and collaborations.

The conference was called VirginiaCancerRX, and this symposium followed the successful 2016 VirginiaBrainRX meeting in Richmond.

They met for two days to hear speakers and work together to try to find news ways to approach cancer research and treatment.

Dr. John Lazo described the need for cancer research as a comparison to being in battle.

"It's a war that has been launch in a number of different fronts," said Lazo. "The only way to really move forward we believe is to get people together and try to find places where we can bridge our disciplines on trying to beat cancer."

"They will meet colleagues at other universities that they would not otherwise have met," noted David Kingston from the Virginia Tech Chemistry Department. "So the end goal is to go back to their universities and at least some of these discussions can turn into research collaborations, and we have already research collaborations in effect."

Experts like the director of UVA's Cancer Center, Thomas Loughran, said that cancer is becoming more of a chronic disease.

"It's important because it's a big help for our patients to get in remission and hopefully be cured," Loughran explained. "If we're not able to do that we want to be able to get a good response when the patient is in remission and keep their disease stable and not progressing for as long as we can."

"We're always worried about funding," expressed Lazo.

Collaboration like this can help when facilities do not have the resources or funding.

"We believe that based on what's happened in the last few years that the American people realize how important the research is," said Lazo.

Less than one in five research projects get grant funding each year. Yet experts said they are hopeful for the future.

"When you're trying to tackle cancer if you're not optimistic you don't have a chance," explained Lazo. "Similarly is the university we feel that if you're not optimistic that you're going to get that next grant then you're in trouble."

Chances of being cured of cancer have increased over the past 20 years. Health professionals have worked more with targeted therapy which has proved to be more effective with fewer side effects.

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