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The University of Chicago Medicine - Comer Children's Hospital

Childhood Leukemia Research

The pediatric cancer research program is an integral component of the University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer Center, one the most famous cancer research centers in the world. This National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, one of only two in Illinois, comprises an outstanding and extensive team of laboratory scientists, caregivers, clinical researchers and trainees who work together to unlock the mysteries behind all types of cancer and to develop solutions to the complexity of individual cancers. Greater than fifty current investigators -- funded from federal, state and philanthropic sources -- have made key discoveries that advanced the understanding of the diagnosis and treatment of leukemia. Over a forty year time span, the comprehensive and collaborative nature of University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer Center has allowed several major advances in the diagnosis and treatment of leukemia including:

  • Identifying chromosomal rearrangements that activate cancer-causing genes. This important discovery contributed to the development of current targeted gene therapies.
  • Distinguishing chemotherapy approaches that allow many more children to survive the riskiest forms of acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
  • Discovering the gene defect that contributes to a rare form of leukemia seen in children with Down syndrome. This observation is now being exploited more broadly for the development of therapies of several forms of leukemia.

 

View a video about a grant that supports important University of Chicago research into combating therapy-related leukemia, a secondary cancer that develops in approximately 10 percent of patients who are treated for cancer.

Ongoing research continues the quest to understand leukemia and other cancers with the goal of discerning new and better treatments for the disease. Recent grants for leukemia research are currently funding:

  • National Cancer Institute (NCI) program project grant to study the genetic basis of and therapy for secondary leukemia. University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer Center director Michelle LeBeau leads the NCI program.
  • Cancer Research Foundation Award to identify new leukemia targets, distinguish molecules to block those targets and develop new clinical trials using these agents. Working on this research are John Cunningham, MD, Michelle LeBeau, PhD, Kevin White, PhD, Harinder Singh, PhD, Yves Lussier, MD, and Richard Larson, MD.

At any given time, we offer more than thirty clinical trials for the treatment of leukemia. These include first line therapies, therapies for children with refractory or relapsed leukemias, stem cell transplantation strategies, and new phase I drugs for leukemia.

Advancing Research Through Partnerships

Our pediatric cancer researchers are also members -- and often leaders -- of many national and international cancer research groups including:

These partnerships and collaborations further our ability to bring the latest treatment innovations from the laboratory bench to the patient bedside as quickly as possible.