Leukemia and Lymphoma Society awards grant to support pediatric cancer research

The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society has awarded a three-year, $300,000 grant to University of Florida researcher Jatinder Lamba, Ph.D., to develop a personalized therapy for pediatric cancer patients. UF Health Cancer Center, the UF College of Pharmacy and the Children’s Oncology Group will match the grant, bringing the total funding to $600,000.

Jatinder LambaAcute myeloid leukemia, or AML, is a rapidly spreading type of cancer that affects bone marrow and blood. On average, about 500 pediatric patients are diagnosed with AML each year. While five-year pediatric survival rates for AML are around 70 percent, it’s much lower in adults due to high relapse rates and the lack of new treatment options.

Lamba, a professor of pharmacotherapy and translational research in the UF College of Pharmacy, will study the surface molecule CD33 that is expressed in the majority of myeloid leukemia cells to predict the effectiveness of CD33-directed therapies such as gemtuzumab ozogamicin, or GO. GO has shown very promising results in improving treatment outcomes in AML patients. In light of these results, U.S. Food and Drug Administration re-approved GO in 2017 as a therapy for newly diagnosed and relapsed AML patients. Lamba’s lab recently identified a genetic variant in CD33 that results in splicing alteration, and thus loss of the IgV domain. Given that IgV domain is recognized by GO, presence of this variant significantly impacts a patient’s response to GO. The proposed research seeks to perform mechanistic evaluation of CD33 isoform to improve the ability to personalize CD33-directed immunotherapy in AML.