Rochester, Minnesota - Former President Jimmy Carter made news around the world a few months ago when, after a battle with potentially deadly melanoma, he revealed he was cancer-free. Hearing that a so-called “miracle drug” was responsible, Dr. Haidong Dong could not help but smile. Discoveries in a Mayo Clinic lab years earlier had helped to make this therapy, and a new generation of similar cancer therapies, possible. “Lots of people work in these research fields for years, for decades,” says Dr. Dong. “They never give up and their persistence eventually makes a big difference.”

Dr. Larry Pease, the co-director of the Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy Program in the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, agrees. “Basically, at Mayo Clinic, what we’re interested in is meeting the unmet needs of the patients,” says Dr. Pease. “But, you know, from a biological perspective, one of the goals is to try to figure out how the immune system works.” Dr. Dong adds, “This is our responsibility: to find answers.” From the Mayo Clinic News Network, Dennis Douda has more on the story.

Watch: Spark of Discovery Ignites New Era of Cancer Therapies