As reported by the New Britain Herald, May 2, 2008.

Cancer Researcher Advances Cure

By Rick Guinness

NEW BRITAIN — Joan McIntyre Caron announced Thursday that she has made progress toward human tests for a compound she believes will cure breast cancer.

Her speech, to a Rotary Club gathering at the YMCA, was given in advance of the 2008 CT Race in the Park, scheduled for May 10 at Walnut Hill Park to raise money for the fight against breast cancer.

Caron, 56, of Thomaston, is co-chairwoman of the event with her twin sister, Jane, and a breast cancer survivor herself. She is an assistant professor in the Department of Cell Biology at the University of Connecticut Health Center.

She would not reveal the specifics of her research and, while waiting for patent approval, has not shared it with other scientists.

“I don’t want anyone to steal my work,” she said, almost apologetically, before taking the podium.

She said she has shared her data only with breast cancer specialist Dr. Peter Deckers, an oncologist who is executive vice president of health affairs and dean of the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, and that Deckers agreed to work with her.

Caron’s claims were verified by Jim Walters, a school spokesman. “She has identified a compound. It’s for real,” Walters said. “But it’s still in the testing phase.”

Caron said she had been doing cancer research for more than 20 years and, at her brother’s horse farm four years ago, stumbled across a compound that fit her needs. “Ideally we want a wide-spectrum drug, one that doesn’t hurt normal cells,” she said, but hits “a lot of different types of cancer.”

She was amazed by what she found.

“It’s unbelievable,” she said. “I tested it against highly malignant cells — breast cancer, melanoma and lymphocytic leukemia.”

The drug is not yet approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, but has passed three very strict agency-directed tests and is headed for the clinic, she said.

“The chances of going from a basic science lab bench to a clinical use is very rare,” she said. “I did it.”

Now she spends most of her time doing research compliance, and must raise money to continue her work — $200,000 next year, not much in the world of science trials.

“I come cheap,” she said. “I am doing this in my lab.”

But the need for more funding for her and other researchers goes on, which is where the Race in the Park comes in. The race helps fund The Connecticut Breast Health Initiative, which in turn — with the university’s Lea’s Foundation Center for Hematologic Disorders — pays some of Caron’s research costs.

The initiative is trying to raise $500,000 this year.

She is uniquely driven on the cause, inspired by being stricken with cancer and chemotherapy some eight years ago.

“It hurts,” she said.

Jane Caron told the crowd of Rotarians at the YMCA that she took care of her sister when she was sick.

“It’s very hard to be a caregiver,” Jane Caron said. “But there is light at the end of the tunnel.”