2020 started off with some encouraging news: the death rate from cancer was down 2.2 percent in 2017 from the previous year, according to the American Cancer Society, an improvement over the past few years, when the average decrease was 1.5 percent. &ldquo;This is due to a two-pronged attack on cancer &mdash; prevention and improved treatment,&rdquo; says William Farrar, MD, CEO of The James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute. Advances and breakthroughs in screening, precision cancer medicine and immunotherapy will continue to reduce the cancer death rate, he adds &mdash; and The James will remain at the forefront. Here are some of the recent advances, new programs and initiatives at The James, all designed to improve patient care and quality of life: Pelotonia Institute for Immuno-Oncology (PIIO) &ldquo;Immuno-oncology has been around since the 1970s,&rdquo; Farrar says. &ldquo;We knew how to rev up the immune system, but the problem was getting it into the cancer cells. Now, we know how to break down the barriers and get it into the cells &mdash; we&rsquo;re going to see much-improved results over the next few years and the cancer death rates will continue to drop.&rdquo; The PIIO will be a world leader in immuno-oncology, led by Zihai Li, MD, PhD, who will recruit a team of world-class researchers. The institute launched in 2019 with a $65 million investment from Pelotonia, the annual fundraising bike ride. To learn more, here&rsquo;s the James Cancer-Free World Podcast episode featuring Dr. Li. New leukemia drug The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved the use of acalabrutinib for first-line therapy in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and small cell lymphoma (SLL, a targeted drug therapy developed and tested at the OSUCCC &ndash; James. Acalabrutinib is a second-generation Bruton tyrosine kinase (BTK) inhibitor, a newer class of drugs shown to improve the survival of patients with mantle cell lymphoma in addition to CLL and SLL. OSUCCC &ndash; James researchers were also extensively involved in the development of the first BTK inhibitor. &ldquo;Our world-class hematology group led by John Byrd, MD, developed both drugs (with partial funding from Pelotonia) and have made major advances in treating patients. They have been instrumental in turning CLL from a fatal disease to one in which over 90 percent of patients are cured or can live for a long time.&rdquo; Clinical trials &ldquo;We are clearly one of the top cancer hospitals in terms of the number of clinical trials we offer,&rdquo; Farrar says. The James added 137 new clinical trials in 2019 &mdash; bringing the total number to more than 900 &mdash; with more than 2,000 patients enrolled last year. &ldquo;For example, at the Stefanie Spielman Comprehensive Breast Center, we put close to 28 percent of our patients into clinical trials,&rdquo; says Farrar, who is also the Medical Director of the Spielman Center. &ldquo;The national average is three to four percent of patients.&rdquo; Proton radiation A new proton radiation center will be part of the outpatient cancer center that will be built on Ohio State&rsquo;s West Campus. The James will partner with Nationwide Children&rsquo;s Hospital to develop and operate this state-of-the-art center. Proton radiation therapy utilizes protons (positively charged particles) instead of X-rays to kill cancer cells. The James will be one of the first cancer centers to study a new form of proton therapy called FLASH. This approach involves rapid delivery of a much higher dose of radiation. FLASH has the potential to reduce what is typically 30 days of treatments over 30 days into a single treatment &mdash; delivered in less than one second.