Harvard Project Seeks 'Exceptional Responder' Cancer Patients

There are some cancer patients given just months to live who somehow live for years. How do they defy the odds? Researchers at Harvard Medical School hope to unlock that secret in order to help other cancer patients.

No one really knows why Carol Martin is still alive. Two years ago, doctors diagnosed her with inoperable pancreatic cancer, giving her just two months to live. But days turned into months which turned into years after a long-shot experimental chemo drug worked. A year and a half after Martin was supposed to have died, she speed walked the Boston Marathon.

Dr. Isaac Kohane of Harvard Medical School is the co-founder of the Network of Enigmatic Exceptional Responders. The project will become the first national registry for rare cancer patients who beat the odds with therapies that failed others. Researchers will analyze a patient's DNA, lifestyle, religion, exercise habits, diet, social media posts and more. The program hopes to enroll a few hundred exceptional responders like Martin. So far, there are 38 participants with nine of those living in Massachusetts.