Local News

RTP pharmaceutical company stands up to cancer

Posted September 10, 2010 5:00 p.m. EDT
Updated September 11, 2010 6:42 p.m. EDT

— Jason Holt, a research scientist at pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline in Research Triangle Park, is working on a drug that would help reduce muscle loss in cancer patients.

“There’s a chance where we might find that magic compound where we’re going to cure cancer,” Holt said.

The fight against cancer is an ongoing battle at GSK, and employees there said they were showing support for Friday's telethon “Stand Up to Cancer."

“It’s just very, very rewarding to know whatever work that I’m doing may some day have an impact on cancer patients,” said Tona Gilmer, GSK’s global director for oncology translational research.

For some, the battle against cancer is personal.

Jill Wolford, who works in the clinical research department at GSK, was diagnosed in the 1990s with breast cancer.

“I was dealing with the things like my 2-year-old daughter wanting to play Barbies, but I was so sick. I couldn’t really get up,” Wolford said. “How do you tell your 2-year-old, ‘No, I don’t feel well?’”

In the last four years, four new drugs from GSK have been approved for the prevention or treatment of cancer. Scientists at GSK said they are working on more than a dozen cancer-related drugs.

“We know we’re making progress,” Holt said.

Wolford and her husband started a charity, the Caring Community Foundation, when she saw how cancer patients struggled financially.

The group pays for necessities such as electric bills and mortgage for patients in need.

A fundraiser for the foundation will be held Saturday night at the Renaissance Raleigh Hotel at North Hills in Raleigh.