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Inspirational Stories



A Pioneering Researcher Developing Targeted Therapies for Leukemia, Lymphoma and Myeloma

A cancer researcher trained in cell biology, immunology and molecular oncology, Dr. Strasser has made major contributions leading to discoveries that have found that defects in cell death can cause cancer and impair responses to chemotherapy. With this knowledge, his research team is able to develop new treatments. 

Dr. Strasser received one of the most ambitious grants in the LLS portfolio: a Specialized Center of Research (SCOR). These multidisciplinary, collaborative grants bring together teams of researchers to solve difficult challenges in the blood cancers. “We are working to understand why and how it is that if cells in the body don’t die when they should, cancer is able to develop,” Dr. Strasser said.

This SCOR paves the way for therapies that harness the body's own cell death machinery, called apoptosis, the normal process that causes impaired cells to self-destruct. When the process goes awry, cancer cells do not die as readily. The team was instrumental in the discovery of the first approved apoptosis-targeted agent called venetoclax (Venclexta) for use in chronic lymphocytic leukemia and, more recently, for elderly patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). The team is now testing multiple new approaches to boost apoptosis in other leukemias, as well as lymphoma and myeloma.