Monday, September 16, 2013

Mission Monday: Meet an LLS-funded Researcher in Texas

Kala Kamdar, M.D.
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) spends millions of dollars every year supporting the work of the best and brightest blood cancer researchers around the world.

Today we introduce you to Kala Kamdar, M.D. from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.  Dr. Kamdar's work has been sponsored by LLS since 2011. Her focus has been on acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and the long term effects of current cancer treatments.  Below she describes her current project that is showing great promise.

"Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is the most common cancer in childhood. Remarkable advances in therapy have resulted in a cure rate of approximately 80%. However, many long-term survivors of childhood ALL face chronic health problems related to exposure to chemotherapy and radiation at a young age. Specifically, long-term survivors of ALL are at an increased risk for excessive weight gain and heart disease, compared to the general population. It is not clear why some long-term survivors of childhood ALL are at a higher risk for obesity than other survivors who received the same treatment. Genetic differences may explain why some children respond differently to certain treatments than others, both in terms of effectiveness and side effects of therapy. We propose that some children may have genetic susceptibility to obesity after receiving chemotherapy and cranial irradiation for ALL. We will examine the role of genetic variation in the development of treatment-related obesity in 1,200 long-term survivors of childhood ALL enrolled in the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study. We will investigate whether differences in the genetic make-up of these survivors can predict why some children develop overweight/obesity (BMI 25) after ALL treatment whereas others do not. We will also evaluate whether gender, age, and ALL treatment differences influence the relationship between genetics and obesity. Our findings from this first study will be validated in an independent study of 400 ALL survivors who are followed at Texas Children’s Hospital. If we can identify which children with ALL are at risk for excessive weight gain based on genetics, we may develop early interventions to prevent this important side effect of therapy and optimize the lifelong health of these children."

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