Marina Konopleva, MD, PhD

Nick Valvano Translational Research Grant*

Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) is a blood cancer that arises from cells that normally fight infections in the body. However, these cells can become fast-growing and hard to kill, which causes their over-production. Eventually, healthy cells in the blood stop working because the diseased cells take over. Patients with AML are often treated with a novel drug called Venetoclax, which kills the majority of AML cells. However, residual cancer cells that did not die eventually re-populate the body leading to the patient’s death. In this research proposal, we identified the protein BAX as a key effector of cancer cell killing by Venetoclax. We also made several scientific observations about Venetoclax and BAX that are critical to understanding why this drug works for some cancer cells and not others. A scientific goal of this V Foundation Award is to provide the scientific reasoning for why Venetoclax does not always work in AML patients. At the same time, a therapeutic goal is to examine the new drugs that directly activate BAX, which restores its ability to kill AML cells. Our scientific goal is to work together and to provide a deeper knowledge of cancer therapies with the aim of cancer cures.

Location: Montefiore Einstein Cancer Center - Bronx
Proposal: Elucidating the role of BAX as a novel druggable driver of Venetoclax resistance in AML

*One exceptional Adult Translational research project is given the prestigious designation annually of being named the Nick Valvano Translational Research Grant.  Nick Valvano, Jim Valvano’s brother, served as CEO of the V Foundation for 13 years and has been a V Foundation Board Member since 1993.
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