Abby Rosenberg receives CureSearch funding to study resilience in adolescent and young adult cancer patients

Rosenberg 143pxlAbby Rosenberg, MD, MS, of Seattle Children’s Research Institute has received a $100,000 grant to continue her research into the psychological and social development issues that affect adolescent and young adult cancer patients during and after treatment. The grant, awarded by CureSearch for Children’s Cancer is part of the Young Investigator’s Program funding researchers focused on the highest risk and poorest outcome cancers.

Dr. Rosenberg hopes her work will lead to the creation of interventions to help identify and treat those patients at the highest risk for poor psycho-social outcomes, thus enabling better patient and family resilience after treatment ends.

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Two Conquer Cancer Foundation grants from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) awarded

One current and one former Pediatric Hematology/Oncology fellow have won Conquer Cancer Foundation grants from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).

Heather Helton, MD, will receive ASCO’s Young Investigator Award, which provides research funding during the final years of a doctor’s medical training to encourage an interest in research and jumpstart their careers as physician-scientists. She is investigating biologic and clinical implications of ETV6 genomic variations in AML.

Rebecca Gardner, MD, will receive a 3-year Career Development Award for her study of autologous T cells genetically modified to express a CD19 specific chimeric antigen receptor to treat pediatric relapsed acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

Stand Up To Cancer and the St. Baldrick’s Foundation Grant $1.86 Million to Seattle Children’s Research Institute

Stand Up To Cancer and the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, along with the American Association for Cancer Research, announced the formation of a Dream Team dedicated to childhood cancer research. Michael Jensen, MD, director of Ben Towne Center for Childhood Cancer Research at Seattle Children’s Research Institute, is one of seven members of the Dream Team.

 Stand Up To Cancer and St. Baldrick’s will provide $1.86 million in funding to Seattle Children’s Research Institute over four years for a project that unites researchers across the country in genomics and immunotherapeutics.

 Jensen’s work falls under cancer immunotherapy, in which a patient’s own T cells are genetically modified to recognize cancer cells and attack them just as unmodified cells attack a viral infection. The modified T cells make an artificial receptor that acts like a Velcro molecule, allowing them to recognize and attack cancer cells.

 Last September, Jensen and his team received the green light from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to conduct a trial of cancer immunotherapy treatment for children and young adults with relapsed acute lymphoblastic leukemia.  

 The project is estimated to start July 1, 2013, with the first clinical trials scheduled to open within the first year.

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Co-Geek of the Year

Gardner 2013-1Rebecca Gardner, MD, a pediatric oncologist at Seattle Children’s Hospital and cancer researcher at Seattle Children’s Research Institute, was named GeekWire’s Geek of the Year along with Oren Etzioni, a University of Washington computer scientist and serial entrepreneur.

Gardner is leading a clinical trial in cellular immunotherapy for young adults 18-26 with relapsed acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) reprogramming T cells from the patient’s own blood cells to find and destroy cancer cells, and infusing the blood back into their body.

 Dr. Gardner had previously been named GeekWire’s Geek of the Week.

Fellow to receive ASH Abstract Achievement Award

3rd year fellow Heather Helton was selected by the American Society of Hematology (ASH) to receive a $500 Abstract Achievement Award for her work “Clinically Significant Mutations, Deletions and Translocations Involving ETV6 Identified by Whole Genome and Whole Exome Sequencing; Report From NCI/COG Target AML Initiative”. This Award recognizes her achievement of being a trainee abstract presenter at the 54th ASH Annual Meeting in Atlanta, GA, December 8-11, 2012.

Two former fellows and current clinical researchers receive grants totaling more than $1.5 million from St. Baldrick’s Foundation

Two former Pediatric Hematology/Oncology fellows have won grants from the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness and funds for childhood cancer research.

Dr. Eric Chow will receive $1.2 million to lead a consortium study. Chow is Assistant Member of the Clinical Research Division and the Cancer Epidemiology Research Cooperative in the Public Health Sciences Division at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and Assistant Professor in the division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology at Seattle Children’s Hospital. He also helps lead the hospital’s Cancer Survivor Program. Chow’s national study will seek to follow-up on 1,000 patients previously treated for leukemia and lymphoma, who were part of several Oncology Group studies at Children’s that randomized children to receive dexrazoane. Dexrazoxane has been shown to minimize cardiac toxicity in adult cancer patients, but data in children have been more limited.

St. Baldrick’s Scholar Dr. Phoenix Ho will receive a $330,000 Career Development Award. Ho is a research associate in the Clinical Research Division at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and Acting Instructor in the division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology at Seattle Children’s Hospital. His research focuses on the study of molecular alterations in pediatric acute myeloid leukemia (AML) with the goal of defining new prognostic markers for risk stratification, and identifying new targets of therapy. His award will further his study in exploiting WT1 genomic alterations for target identification and MRD monitoring in pediatric AML.

Cancer is the leading cause of death by disease among children in the U.S. However, only 3 percent of all federal cancer research funding targets pediatric cancer research. This year the Southern California-based St. Baldrick’s Foundation awarded more than $22.5 million in new grants supporting such research in the U.S.

Bleakley wins $250,000 Hyundai Hope on Wheels award for pediatric oncology research to reduce occurrence, severity of graft-vs.-host disease.

Dr. Marie Bleakley, Assistant Member in the Hutchinson Center’s Clinical Research Division and Assistant Professor in the division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology at the University of Washington received a $250,000 Hyundai Hope on Wheels grant.

Bleakley describes her work to combat graft-vs.-host disease, a painful, life-threatening immune response that occurs in some of the children she treats for leukemia.
“Through bone marrow and stem-cell transplantation, we’re able to successfully treat many of these young patients with the most severe forms of leukemia,” Bleakley said. “Unfortunately for some, transplantation can lead to graft-vs-host disease, and in other patients leukemia can recur after transplantation. Support from Hyundai Hope on Wheels will help us learn how to reduce the occurrence and severity of graft-vs.-host and reduce the occurrence of leukemic relapse, which will improve the success of transplantation and ultimately save lives.”

During September-National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month-Hyundai auto dealers are contributing more than $10.25 million in funding to more than 41 grant recipients in support of pediatric cancer research and/or patient programs. Hope on Wheels has committed more than $57 million to childhood cancer research since its inception in 1998.

Pediatric oncologist Eric Chow will use Leukemia & Lymphoma Society $500,000 pediatric research grant to research ways to prevent blood-cancer therapy side effects to the heart

Dr. Eric Chow has won a three-year, $500,000 grant from the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS). Chow, a pediatric oncologist in the Hutchinson Center’s Clinical Research Division and at Seattle Children’s, is among 20 researchers nationwide to share $12 million in grants under the society’s Translational Research Program.

Chow, also of the Public Health Sciences Division’s Cancer Epidemiology Research Cooperative, will use the grant to study long-term and late effects of blood cancer therapies. Specifically, his grant will fund research into determining the effectiveness of dexrazoxane in preventing anthracycline-related cardiomyopathy.

The LLS program is designed to help accelerate the movement of promising discoveries from the lab to the clinic in four areas of high unmet medical need in blood cancers:
• Malignant stem cells in acute myelogenous leukemia and myelodysplastic syndromes
• Novel therapeutic strategies for noncutaneous T-cell malignancies
• Development of therapeutic strategies for high-risk myeloma patients
• Mechanisms underlying long-term and late effects resulting from cancer treatment and the development of measures to significantly reduce or prevent these toxicities.

Founded in 1949, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society works to cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. LLS funds blood cancer research around the world and provides free information and support services.

$12.6 million grant expands cord blood trial

Dr. Colleen Delaney, Associate Member in the Clinical Research Division of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and Associate Professor in the division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology at the University of Washington, has received a $12.6 million award from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute to test her pioneering method for expanded umbilical cord blood transplants in a clinical trial of 160 patients.

This phase 2 multicenter trial – headquartered at the Hutchinson Center – builds on the success of Delaney’s original studies that have demonstrated the technique’s power in 20 patients.

The first trial using expanded cells required that the cord blood unit used to generate the expanded cells be at least partially matched to the patient and the process of cell expansion had to occur while the patient was undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatments needed prior to the transplant. While this approach demonstrated that the median time to blood count recovery was cut in half in patients receiving the expanded cells, the process is logistically difficult and does not easily allow patients around the country access to this approach.

Delaney’s new trial will compare patients undergoing cord blood transplants with or without the expanded, off-the-shelf products. Her study will ask whether patients who receive expanded cord blood cell transplants repopulate their immune and blood cells more quickly and whether the universal donor products provide clinical benefit to the patient in reducing infections, toxicity and length of their hospital stay.

Phoenix Ho receives two-year, $50,000 award from Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation

Dr. Phoenix Ho of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center’s Clinical Research Division has won a two-year $50,000 Young Investigator Award from Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation. ALSF provides critical startup funds to help new researchers and physicians pursue promising ideas in pediatric oncology.

Ho, a pediatric oncology research associate, the grant will support his study in exploiting WT1 genomic alterations for target identification and MRD monitoring in pediatric AML.

The award is part of 48 new ALSF medical research grants totaling more than $4 million to doctors and researchers at institutions nationwide. Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation emerged from the front yard lemonade stand of 4-year old Alexandra “Alex” Scott. In 2000, after receiving a stem-cell transplant for neuroblastoma, she wanted to raise money to help find a cure for all children with cancer. Alex’s first stand generated $2,000. Before she died at age 8, her annual stands had raised more than $1 million. To date, Alex’s nonprofit has raised more than 55 million and funded more than 250 research projects in the U.S. and Canada.