Funded Research

  • A Novel Approach to Elicit Anti-tumor Immunity Against Acute Myeloid Leukemia
    $500,000 Tower Senior Investigator Grant

    Patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) have a relatively poor outcome, compared with those with acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL), another major type of leukemia. AML patients are associated with a high risk of disease come-back. Currently, immunotherapies, which mobilize a patient’s own T cells to eliminate cancer cells, have proven effective against other leukemias, particularly ALL. However, currently available immunotherapy approaches have been less effective against AML. Recently, several biology studies have shown that stimulating endogenous transposable elements, namely, long-interspersed-element-1 (L1), can induce a strong anti-tumor immune response. Herein, our preliminary study in an AML mouse model showed that antagonizing a novel enzyme can promote L1 and stimulation of the immune system, blocking disease development. Dr. Li proposes that this new drug could be developed as an anti-AML therapy and tested either alone or combined with other immunotherapies in future clinical trials.

    Ling Li, PhD
    City of Hope
  • Exploring DOCK2 Activation In Drug Resistance And Pathogenesis Of Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia
    $100,000 Tower Career Development Grant

    Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is one of the most common types of leukemia in adults— DOCK2 is a key protein in cell signaling pathways that contributes to the development and progression of CLL. Dr. Hasan’s research suggests that DOCK2 could be neutralized by an antibody called cirmtuzumab or inhibitors called ibrutinib/acalabrutinib.


    In fact, combining the two may become the answer to treating CLL, and this TCRF-funded project will provide the research support necessary to make such a treatment possible, which would improve the quality of life of CLL and related blood cancer patients.

    Md Kamrul Hasan, PhD
    University of California, San Diego
  • Uncovering the Scope of DFFB-Mediated Cancer-Acquired Drug Resistance
    $100,000 Tower Career Development Grant

    This research’s focus is on how to increase the durability of cancer treatment responses and prevent the emergence of drug resistance; specifically identifying new therapeutic targets and approaches which eradicate minimal residual disease that persists in patients after initial treatment responses. This work has the potential to reveal new therapies which will transform transient responses into cures for patients.

    Matthew Hangauer, PhD
    University of California, San Diego

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