Monday, January 6, 2014

Mission Monday: Texas Researcher Wins Major LLS Grant

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) today announced it has awarded four new grants through its prestigious Marshall A. Lichtman Specialized Center of Research (SCOR) research initiative, bringing the program's total funding to $285 million since its inception in 2000.

Helen E. Heslop, MD, at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, TX is one of four recipients of this grant. Heslop and her team of 11 colleagues at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, will expand upon previous success in mobilizing the immune system to control blood cancers by attempting to define safer, simpler, and more effective immunotherapies for the treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and multiple myeloma (MM). They will investigate if naturally occurring "off the shelf" cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs), also known as killer T cells, can be as effective under some circumstances as engineered T cells against lymphoma. In addition, they will devise ways to augment the effectiveness of CTLs in MM and optimize strategies to isolate and expand CTLs against ALL. This research is significant because immunotherapies may produce better responses in patients compared with existing therapies. Beyond that, there is a need to reduce the complexity and cost in order to make such therapy accessible to more patients. 

The innovative SCOR program funds teams of researchers representing different disciplines and engaged in collaborative efforts to discover new approaches to treat patients with blood cancers. Each team will each receive $1.25 million a year for five years, for a total of $6.25 million. 

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