Researcher - Dr. Meir Wetzler
Facility - Roswell Park Cancer Institute
Location - Buffalo, NY
Amount - $50,000
The Problem - Dr. Wetzler's proposal centers on adult patients diagnosed with B cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. Patients with this type of leukemia whose cells are devoid of chromosomal abnormalities have generally been treated with standardized regimens. To improve the outcome of these patients, the research will make utilization of microarray-based comparative genomic hybridization to identify subgroups for which treatments are most or least effective. Modifications can then be introduced into the treatment modality of patients in hopes of improving the efficacy of treatments with an improvement in mortality rates as a result."
The Result - The research conducted by Dr. Wetzler and funded by When Everyone Survives was published in an abstract at the American Society of Hematology annual meeting in December of 2007 with the following findings : Our work on 10 patient samples at diagnosis and 2 at relapse demonstrates the feasibility to detect specific molecular aberrations in NC pB-ALL. Since attaining good quality metaphase cells in ALL is often suboptimal, this work suggests that array CGH can complement conventional cytogenetic analysis to better characterize NC pB-ALL by identifying cryptic copy number changes. Work on a larger number of samples is warranted to determine the prognostic significance of the aberrations detected herein.
What we learned - Our research taught us that in some adult patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia who have no visible changes in their chromosomes, we were able to detect a small deletion at the long arm of chromosome 9.
Where do we go from here? - We are now looking at the same region in patients who have chromosome abnormalities.
Researcher - Dr. Jian-Ming Li
Facility - Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University
Location - Atlanta, GA
Amount - $50,000
The Problem - One of the limitations of the success of bone marrow transplantation is Graft versus Host disease (GvHD), a donor T-cell reaction against normal tissues that may occur in patients who undergo bone marrow transplants. Currently, the transplant cures the leukemia but the GvHD can cause significant problems in the recipient, often resulting in death. Dr. Li’s study will involve the manipulation of dendritic cells in laboratory mice to lessen the GvHD effect and increase the Graft versus Leukemia (GVL) effect. It is the hope of Dr. Li and the researchers that the result of the study will produce a treatment that is transferable to humans and will result in a higher degree of GVL and a lesser degree of GvHD, thereby making the transplants more effective and improving the mortality rates in patients with aggressive forms of leukemia and lymphoma.
The Result - These results are the first to show that manipulation of the content of donor APCs in allogeneic hemopoietic stem cell (HSC) grafts can regulate donor T cell immunity and enhance GvL without increasing graft-vs.-host disease activity.
What we learned - This investigation offers the opportunity to make substantial improvements in allo-HSC Transplantation (HSCT) methods, increasing the availability of allo-HSCT for a greater number of patients with hematopoietic malignancies.
Where do we go from here? - These results would naturally lead to an R01 grant submission with the long-term goal of initiating a phase1 clinical trial in patients with hematopoietic malignancies undergoing allo-HSCT.