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Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation Announces 2017 Reach Grant Recipients

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Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation Announces 2017 Reach Grant Recipients  

The Reach Grant provides critical funding to propel childhood cancer research from the lab toward clinical trial.

Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF), a nonprofit dedicated to finding cures for all children with cancer, awarded Reach Grants to childhood cancer researchers at three leading institutions across the country. The Reach Grant provides much-needed funding at a critical point in the development of a cancer therapy – preparation for FDA approval. Each recipient will receive up to $250,000 over the course of two years.

The 2017 Reach Grant will support: Michael Burke, MD, of Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin; Gianpietro Dotti, MD, of the University of North Carolina; and Alex Kentsis, MD/PhD of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

Dr. Burke, along with his co-investigator Jeffrey Medin, MD/PhD, have pioneered a new way to treat acute myeloid leukemia (AML). They take a patient’s leukemia cells and infect the cells with a virus, then return the infected cells to the patient to trigger the patient’s immune system to attack the reintroduced leukemia cells and other AML cells in the body. Dr. Dottie and his co-investigator Dr. Barbara Savolodo, MD/PhD, will focus on glioblastoma (GBM), a brain tumor with few treatment options. This study will enhance an immunotherapy found to be effective against most GBM cells. Dr. Kentsis recently identified a mechanism of genomic rearrangement common in a majority of childhood solid tumors. This study will lead to the development of a new therapeutic strategy to inhibit the rearrangement and move directly to clinical trial.

Northwestern Mutual Foundation and Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation are helping ALSF fund two of the Reach Grant projects.

“Funding is critical to help researchers unlock better cures and treatments for childhood cancer and Northwestern Mutual is proud to support Dr. Burke and Dr. Medin to bring their innovative breakthrough closer to FDA approval,“ said Eric Christophersen, president of the Northwestern Mutual Foundation. “We believe all kids deserve the chance to live life to the fullest and are looking forward to the day when every child has a bright future beyond their illness.”

“Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation seeks to fund research with the potential to be moved to the clinic in the near future,” said Kathleen A. Casey, CEO and Founder of Bear Necessities. “Thus, the ALSF Reach Grant provides the opportunity to collaborate towards this type of research, thereby making a bigger impact. Dr. Dotti’s research with high-grade gliomas is critical to changing the overall poor prognosis for children now, and its strong scientific premise and translational capabilities give hope to the future.”

“Traditional treatment protocols can fail many children fighting childhood cancer,” said Jay Scott, Co-Executive Director of Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation. “Similar to my daughter Alex’s battle, children and families will turn to clinical trials, whose outcomes can provide hope and the possibility of potential cures. We are dedicated to bringing promising research forward from the lab to the clinic.”

The aim of the Reach Grant is to fund studies which will result in the initiation of a clinical trial within a short time period, ideally two to three years. 

For more information about the Reach Grant or Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation’s various grant categories and successes, visit ALSFgrants.org.