Bench to bedside

NIH grants total $26 million for leukemia research

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Investigating the genetic origins of acute myeloid leukemia.

BY Caroline Arbanas

The National Cancer Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has awarded two major grants totaling $26 million to leukemia researchers and physicians at the Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and the Washington University School of Medicine.

The funding helps establish the medical school as a premier center for innovative leukemia research, with a bench-to-bedside approach that has the potential to lead to novel therapies that improve survival and reduce treatment-related side effects.

The first award is a five-year, $14.3 million Program Project Grant (PPG) in leukemia. The grant initially was funded at the medical school in 2003 and has been renewed twice. With new support, the scientists aim to identify all the genetic changes underlying the development and progression of acute myeloid leukemia, the most common type of acute leukemia in adults. This information may lead to more personalized treatments for patients based on the unique genetic and molecular signatures of their leukemia cells.

The second award is a prestigious Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) grant in leukemia. The $11.3 million, five-year award capitalizes on research advances at the medical school to bring new investigational treatments into clinical trials.

"There's important synergy between the two grants." — Timothy Ley, MD

Timothy Ley, MD, the Lewis T. and Rosalind B. Apple Chair in Oncology, is principal investigator of the Program Project Grant; Daniel Link, MD, the Alan A. and Edith L. Wolff Distinguished Professor of Medicine, is principal investigator of the SPORE grant.

“There’s important synergy between the two grants,” said Ley. “The PPG focuses on basic research to generate ideas, concepts and technologies that can be evaluated in clinical trials via the SPORE grant.”

As part of the research, Division of Oncology scientists will work closely with researchers at The Genome Institute to further explore the genetic basis of leukemia.

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