Grants - Translational Grants - Pennsylvania - 2019

Sarah Tasian, M.D.

Funded by the Constellation Gold Network Distributors in honor of the Dick Vitale Pediatric Cancer Research Fund

Philadelphia chromosome-like acute lymphoblastic leukemia (Ph-like ALL) is a common cancer in children and adults that does not respond well to regular chemotherapy medicines and often comes back. We found in earlier studies that Ph-like ALL has ‘miswired’ signaling networks inside its cells. These networks seem to be very sensitive to targeted medicines called kinase inhibitors. We are now testing one of these inhibitor medicines with chemotherapy in children with Ph-like ALL in a clinical trial, but we do not yet know if adding this new medication will be better than regular chemotherapy by itself. We will study leukemia cells from patients treated on this clinical trial to try to answer this question. We will also use specialized mouse models made from the children’s leukemia cells to understand what other miswired networks happen in Ph-like ALL and could be attacked by new medicines. These laboratory studies will help us to learn if using several inhibitor medicines together could be even better than current chemotherapy.  If this is the case, then we will then hope to test this new treatment idea in children with Ph-like ALL in future clinical trials.