RESEARCH

Advancing the Most Promising Science

Since 1949, LLS has supported the work of remarkable scientists leading to breakthrough advances in blood cancer treatments. To date, LLS has invested more than $1.2 billion in cutting-edge blood cancer research, funding nearly all of today’s most promising treatments, and bringing us closer to cures.

This year, LLS dedicated $42 million to support scientific grants, including 83 new grants awarded in 2017 alone to researchers across 8 countries, making us the largest nonprofit funder of blood cancer research. Most of these grants are supporting research projects over multiple years. LLS supports the full spectrum of research from bench to bedside – that is, from basic, laboratory-based research to large-scale clinical trials. In 2017, we supported a total of 227 research grants, a $211 million multi-year commitment.

Through our Therapy Acceleration Program® (TAP), we partner directly with biotechnology companies and renowned academic centers to help accelerate the development of promising therapies. This year, $4.7 million of our 2017 research budget was invested in our TAP program. TAP is currently supporting 19 partnerships.

Through these investments, we accelerate science in order to improve the lives of those impacted by blood cancers. While significant progress has been made, much work remains. There is an urgent need for new treatments and every hour spent conducting research is a step closer to finding cures.

VOLUNTEER SPOTLIGHT: SANDY ALLEN-BARD

Fighting blood cancer is a cause that has always been close to my heart. I lost my grandfather to acute myeloid leukemia in 1971. Today, I work as a nurse practitioner focused on leukemia at the Weill Cornell Medical College/New York Presbyterian Hospital.

Since 2003, I have volunteered for LLS in many ways. I first signed up for Team In Training (TNT) in support of the patients I treat. I am now a TNT coach and I’ve completed 30 marathons and three 50-mile races. My greatest accomplishment is raising more than $260,000 over multiple campaigns, which funded research at Weill Cornell Medical College and research dedicated to AML.

I’ve also volunteered for LLS’s patient outreach efforts. I started a patient support group at Weill Cornell Medical College, and I have given many lecture series. I was active in the LLS Community Service Committee programs, and I was team captain for Light The Night. I will continue to volunteer for LLS until we find a cure.

We are focused on the most urgent, unmet medical needs.

While we have seen much progress in survival for blood cancers, acute myeloid leukemia (AML) remains a daunting challenge. It is one of the deadliest blood cancers, taking 10,000 lives each year. About one quarter of our research portfolio focuses on AML. In addition to our Beat AML® Master Clinical Trial, we are also funding other important programs, including:

  • Tak Mak, Ph.D. of the University of Health Network, Toronto, who leads a Specialized Center of Research (SCOR) team studying the mutations that cause AML and lymphoma to better understand resistance to therapy. SCOR is one of LLS’s most ambitious, collaborative, multi-disciplinary grant programs and has made seminal contributions to many new therapies that have been FDA approved.
  • A partnership with The Babich Family Foundation to study an inherited genetic abnormality in a protein known as RUNX1, which increases a person’s risk of developing AML.
  • Our TAP partner, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, is conducting a clinical trial to study a novel approach to treat AML by starving the AML cancer cells.

We are harnessing the immune system to fight cancer.

For more than 20 years, LLS has advanced immunotherapy by investing in research to harness the power of the patient’s own immune system to kill cancer. This year LLS invested in immunotherapy on multiple fronts, including funding for:

  • Anas Younes, M.D., and colleagues, of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, who leads a SCOR team advancing next generation CAR (chimeric antigen receptor) T-cell immunotherapy.
  • A new TAP commitment to advance an experimental immunotherapy for non-Hodgkin lymphoma patients. The therapy is being developed by Forty Seven Inc., a company founded by members of Stanford University’s Institute of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine.

VOLUNTEER SPOTLIGHT: RESEARCHERS AS VOLUNTEERS

LLS is proud to support world-renowned researchers who are changing the landscape of cancer. Many of these researchers volunteer their time to LLS as panelists for educational roundtables, symposia and donor events, or as members of our medical and scientific committees, reviewing grants applications.

We are outsmarting cancer with precision medicine.

There are many different types of blood cancers and all require different treatments. This year, LLS funded a vast array of scientific researchers who are uncovering a wealth of information about the specific molecular and genetic underpinnings of cancers, leading to personalized treatments.

The most significant advances have come from being able to rapidly and easily detect molecular mutations in the genes and proteins that control cell functions. As mutations in blood cancer cells are further understood, treatments can be developed that specifically target these mutations. Investments in precision medicine will lead to future cancer therapies that are more effective, personalized, and have fewer side effects. Our investment includes funding for:

  • Madhav Dhodapkar, M.D., of Yale University, who is studying targeted approaches to treat a rare blood cancer called monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS), frequently a precursor to multiple myeloma.
  • Ari Melnick, M.D., of the Sandra and Edward Meyer Cancer Center at Weill Cornell Medicine, who is leading a SCOR team to study the molecular differences that make some lymphoma patients resistant to treatment. The goal is to develop treatments that overcome resistance to chemotherapy or effective treatments that do not require chemotherapy.