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A $50 Million Initiative Fuel Cancer Research

Published: 2019-08-28 |

Source: The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

Blood Cancer Awareness Month in September provides an opportunity to remind the public about the urgent need to support research to find cures, and The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) is marking the occasion with the reinvigorated focus on helping children with cancer live better, longer lives.

LLS announced today it has more than doubled its funding of research focused specifically on childhood blood cancers, adding 20 new research grants valued at more than $13.8 million to its research portfolio in 2019. With these new grants, LLS now has committed more than $25 million over a five-year period to change fundamentally how children with blood cancers are treated. Further, LLS also supports grants that are relevant to adolescent and young adult cancer patients.

The new pediatric grants are part of The LLS Children Initiative, a $50 million comprehensive attack of children's cancer from every angle, from new research investment to advance novel therapies and bloster clinical trials, to enhanced services and support for children and their families, to renewed policy efforts. LLS is also planning an unprecendented global precision medicine clinical trial for children with acute leukemia as part of the initiative.

The two most common leukemias in children are acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and acute myeloid leukemia (AML), where the five-year survival rates are approximately 90 percent and 60 percent, respectively. While significant progress has evolved in the treatment of ALL over 70 years since LLS was founded, advances in treating AML are more recent, after many decades with little change. This means that approximately 700 children will die of leukemias in the United States every year. Many of the children that do survive either of these blood cancers experience long-term complications, typically from treatments they receive. Further, while scores of targeted therapies have been approved for adult cancer patients, only four cancer treatments have been approved for first use in children since the 1980's.

As we now more fully understand the molecular basis of these leukemias, and have new technologies and an arsenal of molecularly targeted drugs and novel immunotherapies for blood cancers, the stage is set to make significant progress for children with these diseases.

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