Clinical OMICS

JAN-FEB 2018

Healthcare magazine for research scientists, labs, pathologists, hospitals, cancer centers, physicians and biopharma companies providing news articles, expert interviews and videos about molecular diagnostics in precision medicine

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In the Lab 38 Clinical OMICs January/February 2018 www.clinicalomics.com The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) recently awarded $46 million in grants for 87 new blood cancer research projects at institutions worldwide. The new funding increases to 254 the number of grants in LLS' total active research portfolio—more investment in blood cancer research than any non-profit agency or government agency outside of the NIH. "There is never a good time to get can- cer, but it's a phenomenal time to be fight- ing it. LLS is doing more than any cancer nonprofit to advance the next generation of blood cancer treatments and cures, and,in doing so, we are helping patients with other cancers and chronic diseases," Louis J. DeGenn- aro, Ph.D., LLS' president and CEO, said in a statement. One key area of funding is LLS' Specialized Center of Research (SCOR), for which the Society has awarded three five-year multidisciplinary, collaborative SCOR grants designed to bring together teams of researchers to solve difficult challenges in blood cancer. SCOR grants have been awarded to: Stephen Nimer, M.D., of the University of Miami; Robert Orlowski, M.D., Ph.D., of the Univer- sity of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center; and Andreas Strasser, Ph.D., of Walter & Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Australia. The SCOR team led by University of Miami's Nimer will study the epigenetic factors of acute myeloid leukemia and myelodysplastic syndromes, both of which have roots in gene expression. "A single mutation or altered expres- sion in an epigenetic controller can adversely impact the expression of a wide variety of genes that ultimately lead to tumor cell growth," noted Lee Greenberger, Ph.D., chief scientific officer, LLS. "While it is not possible to correct the genetic abnormalities in cancer cells, it is becoming increasingly possible to target and reverse the epigenetic abnormalities, and either kill the cancer cell or make it behave more normally." The grants awarded by LLS reach across a broad spec- trum of research areas into the mechanisms and potential therapies for the diseases. Grantees will conduct research in the areas of immunotherapy, apoptosis, and CAR-T ther- apies, among others. Greenberger noted that while there has been significant progress in the development and approval of CAR-T drugs, "We are just at the beginning of understanding what can be accomplished with CAR-T and the next phase of our fund- ing in this area is focused on how to make these therapies even better—safer, more durable, and available to a wider spectrum of patients." The roster of institutions securing LLS grants is diverse and includes the University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, Memorial Sloan Kettering, MD Anderson, the Walter & Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Australia, and the University of Perugia, Italy. To help identify potential grant recipients, LLS marshals a voluntary medical and scientific committee to help iden- tify the most promising research with high potential to improve patient outcomes. To help drive this mission, LLS noted it has raised more than $1 billion for cancer research during its nearly 70 years of operation. "At LLS, we fully recognize that a sustained investment into basic research to understand what causes blood cancer, to identify the tar- gets of the drugs for tomorrow, as well as to develop new blood cancer therapies in patients, is a marathon," Green- berger concluded. — Chris Anderson Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Awards $46M in Research Grants Dr_Microbe / Getty Images

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