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LLS Announces New Research Program for Deadly Blood Cancer

Rye Brook, NY – Jan. 8, 2018 - The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS), the world’s largest voluntary health organization dedicated to fighting blood cancer, announced today new funding for research programs in mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) treatment through a generous donation from The Sarah Cannon Fund at The HCA Foundation.

Among the 72,000 new cases per year of non-Hodgkin lymphomas (NHLs), approximately 4,000 new cases of MCL are reported in the United States each year. Lymphomas are cancers in which white blood cells in the lymph nodes become malignant and grow uncontrollably. Mantle cell lymphoma is one of the 100+ different types of lymphoma. It is a particularly aggressive disease, with a short remission to standard therapies and a median overall survival of four to five years. 

The Sarah Cannon Fund at The HCA Foundation, the philanthropic arm of HCA Healthcare, has committed $5 million to LLS to support two leading-edge research programs, one at City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center in Duarte, CA, and one at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York.

“Despite advances in the treatment of MCL, patients with this disease face a challenging prognosis,” said Louis J. DeGennaro, Ph.D., LLS president and CEO. “LLS and Sarah Cannon share a commitment to advancing therapies for patients facing blood cancers and providing access to the latest treatments close to home. We know considerably more about the molecular basis of MCL now compared to 10 years ago, and we have the potential to further accelerate new treatment options through these research efforts for MCL patients.”

“People facing cancer are at the heart of every decision that we make at Sarah Cannon,” said Dee Anna Smith, CEO at Sarah Cannon. “Through cutting-edge research, we are working to transform care for people fighting this disease, aligning with our partners at LLS in our mission to advance the treatment of blood cancers. Through a generous donation to the Sarah Cannon Fund at The HCA Foundation, we can accelerate crucial new therapies for people with MCL.”

The Sarah Cannon Blood Cancer Network, one of the largest providers of hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT), has been a national sponsor for the past three years of LLS’s Light The Night fundraising campaign. Last fall, Sarah Cannon colleagues formed more than 120 walk teams with more than 2,600 registered walkers. Sarah Cannon has raised a total of $3.2 million through Light The Night since the sponsorship began in 2014.

The donation will support two multidisciplinary teams of researchers focused on developing innovative strategies to combat MCL.

One grant will support a team led by Selina Chen-Kiang, Ph.D., professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine, investigating the efficacy of a therapy approved for breast cancer, palbociclib, for the treatment of MCL patients. Small studies have shown promise, either alone or in combination with ibrutinib, a targeted drug advanced with LLS research funding. Ibrutinib is already approved for MCL, however many patients are resistant or relapse, and the team is trying to understand why, and whether adding a therapy that boosts the immune system might help. 

The other grant has been awarded to a team led by Larry Kwak, M.D., Ph.D., vice president and cancer center associate director for Translational Research &  Developmental Therapeutics, director of  the Toni Stephenson Lymphoma Center and Dr. Michael Friedman Professor in Translational Medicine, at the City of Hope, to support his work studying novel immunotherapies to control MCL. This work includes developing new antibody-based therapeutics to control MCL as well as exploring the use of combining CAR T-cell immunotherapy, which is already approved for another NHL, with targeted agents, such as ibrutinib.

About The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society® (LLS) is the world's largest voluntary health agency dedicated to blood cancer. The LLS mission: Cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. LLS funds lifesaving blood cancer research around the world, provides free information and support services, and is the voice for all blood cancer patients seeking access to quality, affordable, coordinated care.

Founded in 1949 and headquartered in Rye Brook, NY, LLS has chapters throughout the United States and Canada. To learn more, visit Patients should contact the Information Resource Center at (800) 955-4572, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET.

About Sarah Cannon

Sarah Cannon, the Cancer Institute of HCA Healthcare, offers integrated cancer services with convenient access to cutting-edge therapies for those facing cancer in communities across the United States and United Kingdom. Sarah Cannon’s cancer programs include individualized patient navigation provided by oncology-trained nurses, more than 1,000 stem cell transplants performed annually throughout the Sarah Cannon Blood Cancer Network, hundreds of clinical trials, and molecular profiling capabilities. Through its services, Sarah Cannon is providing state-of-the-art cancer care close to home for hundreds of thousands of patients, a number unmatched by any single cancer center. To learn more about Sarah Cannon, visit


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