Connie Burnett- West
Mary Crowley Medical Research Center at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, Texas
Connie Burnett-West, at the age of 54, received the devastating news that she had tumors in both lungs with little hope for recovery. She was not a candidate for surgery or radiation. She endured two trials using chemotherapy which she said almost killed her, and was then recommended to a gene therapy trial at Mary Crowley Medical Research Center at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, Texas. Using a gene suppressor treatment called GVAX, cancer cells were surgically removed from her lungs and used to create a vaccine. In 2000, she received six injections in six months and has been tumor free since then.
“Because of gene therapy I am standing here talking to you tonight,” said Burnett-West.
Burnett-West, whose mantra is to never give up, is now on the Institutional Review Board at Mary Crowley, helping other patients get the treatment they need. Dr. Jack Roth is director of the W. M. Keck Center for Innovative Cancer Therapies at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Austin, and a member of ACGT Scientific Advisory Council. Dr. Roth was the principal investigator for the first tumor suppressor gene therapy clinical trial approved by the National Institutes of Health and the FDA, after evidencing feasibility and efficacy in laboratory research. Dr. Roth has also served as head of the Thoracic Oncology section of the Surgery Branch of the National Cancer Institute.
Connie continues to be one of ACGT’s most loyal supporters, traveling from TX to attend our events and speaking about her life-saving experience with gene therapy.