Looking for a place to connect with others whose lives are affected by the same cancer? Wish you could keep up with the latest news and research and want some support?
Sign up for LLS Community -- The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s new social network that provides education and support for patients, caregivers, and supporters.
The newly launched online site has the familiar look and feel of modern social media sites, but offers more of an extended conversation and a wider sense of community. You just set up a free account, fill out a profile about your diagnosis and treatment, and start watching your home page feed to see what people are talking about.
It’s World Cancer Day! Pass on the latest facts and help get people talking. It’s time to welcome a new era of discovery.
Research is inching us closer to cures for blood cancer every day – among them, therapies that unleash the immune system, reprogramming of T-cells to track down cancer cells, and personalized treatments based on a patient’s genetic make-up.
Survival rates for patients with many blood cancers have doubled, tripled and even quadrupled since the early 1960s. Cures for many patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and Hodgkin lymphoma have been achieved, and the five-year survival rate for children with ALL climbed from 3 percent to approximately 90 percent. The survival rate for myeloma patients more than tripled in the past decade.
Yet about one third of patients with a blood cancer still do not survive five years after their diagnosis. And unlike many other diseases, there are no means of preventing or screening for blood cancers.
Roland Walter, M.D., Ph.D., a hematologist and clinical researcher at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, has received an LLS Translational Research Program Award for $600,000 over the next three years to support his work developing new antibody-based treatments for acute leukemia, a disease that is often fatal despite aggressive therapies. He previously received a Career Development Grant to study the effects of another newly developed agent on AML cells.
In the simplest of terms, what is your research project about?
Our research aims to improve so called bispecific antibodies. These are a particular class of antibodies that, in their typical format, recognize both leukemia cells as well as some of the patient’s immune cells. That way, the bispecific antibody brings the immune cell in very close proximity to the leukemia cell. This tight connection ultimately leads to an activation and multiplication of the immune cells, which can then kill the leukemia cells. The mechanism by which this happens is very different from the mechanisms by which standard chemotherapy drugs kill leukemia cells. Hence, bispecific antibodies can be effective even in patients who have failed the typical chemotherapy drugs. Currently available bispecific antibodies have shown quite remarkable activity in cancers such as acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).
Very recently, the first trials using bispecific antibodies for acute myeloid leukemia (AML) have been initiated. Based on the data we have from other cancers, we know that currently available bispecific antibody formats do not work in everybody and are challenging to give. Because they are quickly eliminated by the kidneys, they have to be given by continuous infusion over a very long period of time. Our goal is to improve on these existing bispecific antibodies by developing novel ones that will work for a broader subset of patients and will be simpler to give.