Research Project Funding

An Overview of Imagine A Cure for Leukemia Research Grants

More than a decade of fundraising . . . in the search for a cure

2006

$40,000 Dr Brice Weinberg - CLL

Dr. Weinberg discovered that CLL cells produce nitric oxide that keeps them from dying in the normal way. However, if production is blocked with special drugs, the cells die. This initiative was to determine if there's a therapeutic opportunity based on this learning.

$40,000 Dr. Yun Zhao - CML

Scientists have known for a while which gene becomes defective in CML patients leading to uncontrolled growth. Dr. Zhao studied the progression of the disease at the genetic level in order to identify opportunities for new therapeutic agents.

2007

$56,000 Dr. John Byrd - CLL

This project used a drug that in animal studies was able to both kill CLL cells and also trigger the immune system to find and destroy remaining cells. Goal was to determine its safety/effectiveness with people.

$56,000 Dr. Brian Druker - CML

In this initiative, Dr. Druker conducted clinical trials using a certain drug that he believed might overcome patient resistance to Gleevec.

2008

$57,500 Dr. John Byrd - CLL

A continuation of the 2007 project.

$57,500 Dr. Brian Druker - CML

A continuation of the 2007 project.

2009

$46,500 Dr. John Byrd - CLL

A continuation of the 2008 project.

$46,500 Dr. Brian Druker - CML

A continuation of the 2008 project.

2010

$57,500 Dr. John Byrd - CLL

This project studied how a specific group of proteins is activated to inhibit leukemia cell survival. Biological agents delivering that effect were tested and further refined.

$57,500 Dr. Brian Druker - CML

Dr. Druker was the scientist who developed the drug Gleevec to treat CML. It has since become a leading treatment to control the disease. But with time, patients can relapse. In this project, Dr. Druker studied ways in which certain chemicals in the blood 'signal' CML cells to forego the normal cell death cycle and instead proliferate. His goal was to find ways of interrupting those signals.

2011

$135,000 Dr. Carl June - CLL

Rather than treat CLL with chemotherapy and other drugs, Dr. June pioneered a radical new approach in which he withdraws a patient's own T-cells, 'engineers' them in a lab ro recognize leukemia cells as toxic, and then re-injects them to create a powerful fighting force made up of the body's own immune system. This promising approach has since been aggressively pursued for other types of cancer as well.

2012

$75,000 Dr Carl June - CLL

A continuation of the 2011 project.

$75,000 Dr. Jeffery Molldrem - CML

Healthy immune systems fight infections by recognizing infected cells as defective and attacking them. In CML patients, the cancer cells aren't recognized as toxic. This project was geared to developing a vaccine to treat CML by stimulating the immune system's T-cells to respond.

2013

$100,000 Dr. John Byrd - CLL

Dr. Byrd, who worked on the development/validation of the drug Ibrutinib, sought to understand the biological signalling that enables certain CLL cells to survive. He identified specific molecules for study.

$100,000 Dr. Neil Shaw - CML

This project was geared to developing a test to predict which patients would be resistant to each of the three main drugs used for treatment, i.e., Gleevec, Sprycel and Tasigna. This learning, would then be used to guide development of new more effective therapies.

2014

$50,000 Dr. Javier Pinilla-lbarz - CLL

This project sought to improve the effectiveness of the drug Ibrutinib by combining it with an immune boosting agent.

$50,000 Dr. Kendra Sweet - CML

Dr. Sweet studied a method to make the drug Sprycel more effective by combining it with a signal inhibitor'. This could potentially prevent CML cells from bypassing the therapeutic benefits of Sprycel.

2015

$120,000 Dr. Javier Pinilla-lbarz - CLL

A continuation of the 2014 project.

2016

$100,000 Dr. Lynn Wang - CLL

The drug Ibrutinib, was recently granted a 'breakthrough" designation by the US Food and Drug Administration. This allowed for fast-track approval. However, some patients have demonstrated resistance, and this project aimed to overcome it.

2017

$50,000 Dr. Lynn Wang - CLL

A continuation of the 2016 project.

2018

$80,000 Dr. Matthew Davids

Improving the efficacy of the drug Ibrutinib for CLL patients through a combination therapy. After two years in a clinical trial, patients will be monitored to determine whether the induced remission will allow them to remain treatment-free. If so, this would represent a cure for CLL. A second clinical trial will also be conducted among patients who have relapsed after an alternative treatment, to see whether the combination therapy will stabilize the disease and prevent progression

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