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WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., Oct. 29, 2014--(PR Newswire)--

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Awards $15.6 Million To Help Advance Research From Lab To Clinic

This Year Marks the 20th Anniversary of LLS's Prestigious Translational Research Program

PR Newswire

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., Oct. 29, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) is awarding $15.6  million  in academic grants to 26 scientists who have proposed innovative laboratory research that shows promise in leading to new treatments for blood cancer patients.

The funds are being awarded through LLS's Translational Research Program (TRP), which aims to accelerate encouraging discoveries from the laboratory to clinical application. LLS is celebrating 20 years of awarding TRP grants, which have helped numerous renowned researchers advance their life-saving research. A subset of these awards are focused on a specific request for proposals (RFPs) seeking submissions in several areas that address unmet medical needs in under-researched areas.

Each grant is for a three-year duration with a total value of $600,000.

The focus of the TRP grants and the grant recipients for the specific RFP topics are as follows:

Novel therapeutic strategies for patients with non-cutaneous T-cell lymphoproliferative disorders:

Adolfo Ferrando, M.D., Ph.D., Columbia University Medical Center. Project title: Targeting chemotherapy resistance in T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL)
Andrew Kung, M.D., Ph.D., Columbia University Medical Center. Project title: Bringing anti-NOTCH1 therapies to the clinic
Anjana Rao, M.D., La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology. Project title: Novel therapeutic strategies for peripheral T-cell lymphoma by targeting TET2 and RHOA

Novel targeted therapies for chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) patients with real curative potential:

Katy Rezvani, M.D., Ph.D., The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Project title: Curative cellular therapy for CLL using off-the-shelf cord blood derived natural killer cells
Javier Pinilla, M.D., Ph.D., Moffitt Cancer Center. Project title: Combinatorial immunotherapeutic approaches for the treatment of CLL thought epigenetic manipulation

Novel treatment strategies for myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) patients for whom hypomethylating agents have failed:

Aaron Schimmer, MD, FRCPC, PhD., University of Toronto. Project title: Mitochondrial ClpP as a novel therapeutic target after failure of hypomethylating agents
Tarik Moroy, Ph.D., Institut de Recherches Cliniques de Montreal. Project title: Targeting the progression of MDS to acute myeloid leukemia (AML)
Steven Grant, M.D., Virginia Commonwealth University. Project title: NAE and HDAC inhibition in refractory AML and MDS

Novel targeted therapies for patients with high-risk myeloma:

Qing Yi, M.D., Ph.D., Cleveland Clinic Foundation. Project title: Targeting macrophages to improve chemosensitivity in high-risk myeloma
Richard Jones, M.D., Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Project title: Chemoprotection by the Bone Marrow Niche Mediated by Cytochrome P450 Enzymes

New targeted therapies for indolent lymphoma patients:

Ari Melnick, M.D., Joan & Sanford I. Weill Medical College of Cornell University. Project title: Targeting molecular pathways driving follicular lymphomas
Steven Treon, M.D., Ph.D., Dana Farber Cancer Institute. Project title: MYD88 and CXCR4 WHIM-like mutations offer a targeted treatment approach for Waldenstrom's Macroglobulinemia

LLS also announced the awarding of an additional 11 TRP grants not related to the RFPs. Those funds went to scientists working in other areas of blood cancer research.

These went to:
Bruce Blazar, M.D., Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. Project title: Treating chronic graft-vs-host disease using epigenetic modifiers and bcl6 peptidomimetics
James Coghill, M.D., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Project title: Targeting CC-Chemokine Receptor 7 (CCR7) with fully human anti-CCR7 antibodies for the prevention of graft-versus-host disease
Ivan Maillard, M.D., University of Michigan. Project title: Preclinical study of therapeutic Notch inhibition in chronic graft-versus-host disease
Catherine Wu, M.D., Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Project title: Personal neoantigen vaccination for early CLL
Lucio Castilla, Ph.D., University of Massachusetts Medical School. Project title: Validating inv16 acute myeloid leukemia candidate targeted therapy in humanized mice 
Mignon Loh, M.D., University of California, San Francisco. Project title: Improving outcomes for JMML through targeted therapeutics
B. Hilda Ye, Ph.D., Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University. Project title: Mechanism-based approaches to overcome Ccemo-resistance in the activated B-cell subtype of DLBCL
Paul Frenette, M.D., Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University. Project title: Regulation of leukemia microenvironment by sympathetic nerves
Mark Frattini, M.D., Ph.D., Columbia University Medical Center. Project title: The clinical application of tumor reversion: A phase I study of sertraline (Zoloft) in combination with timed-sequential cytosine arabinoside (ara-C) in adults with relapsed and refractory acute myeloid leukemia (AML).
Gheath Alatrash, D.O., University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Project title: Investigation of ex vivo fucosylation to enhance the efficacy of adoptive T cell immunotherapy
Johannes Zakrzewski, M.D., Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research. Project title: Strategies to overcome transplantation barriers and treat hematologic maligancies enabled by small molecule-mediated inhibition of the transcription factor c-Rel

Additionally, LLS announced the continued funding for the following three projects that have made tremendous progress during the regular funded time period.
John Byrd, M.D., The Ohio State University. Project title: Development of KPT-SINE as a new therapy for CLL and B-cell malignancies
Katherine Borden, Ph.D., IRIC - Institut de Recherche en Immunovirologie et en Cancerologie. Project title: The eukaryotic translation initiation factor eIF4E: a novel therapeutic target in myeloid leukemia
John Crispino, Ph.D., Northwestern University. Project title: MLN8237, an Aurora A kinase inhibitor, for treatment of myeloid malignancies

"LLS has invested more than $1 billion in lifesaving blood cancer research over the past 65 years and funded many of today's most promising advances," said Lee Greenberger, Ph.D., LLS chief scientific officer. "With this program, we are strategically setting out a research agenda that directs the resources to areas we have identified as most in need as well as other work that will provide the most promising benefit to patients. Our ultimate goal is to jump-start clinical work we believe has the greatest potential to transfer to clinical applications."

About The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society ® (LLS) is the world's largest voluntary health agency dedicated to blood cancer. The LLS mission: Cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. LLS funds lifesaving blood cancer research around the world, provides free information and support services, and is the voice for all blood cancer patients seeking access to quality, affordable, coordinated care.

Founded in 1949 and headquartered in White Plains, NY, LLS has chapters throughout the United States and Canada. To learn more, visit www.LLS.org. Patients should contact the Information Resource Center at (800) 955-4572, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET.

Contact: Andrea Greif
(914) 821-8958
andrea.greif@lls.org

SOURCE The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

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