Sarantopoulos and Dave Awarded LLS Research Grants

October 26, 2015
By: Karen E. Butler, Director of Communications, DCI

Stefanie Sarantopoulos, MD, PhDThe Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS), the world's largest voluntary health agency dedicated to blood cancer, recently awarded grants to two Duke Cancer Institute researchers, Stefanie Sarantopoulos, MD, PhD., and Sandeep Dave, MD, MBA, MS.

Sarantopoulos received a Translational Research Program grant for “The Notch2-BCR Axis: Targeting Drivers of B cell Fate in Chronic GVHD." She will receive $600,000 over three years. Patients undergoing stem cell transplants may suffer from a serious and potentially deadly condition called chronic graft versus host disease (cGVHD). Sarantopoulos’ lab is developing a novel targeted therapy for patients undergoing stem cell transplant, hypothesizing that they can reduce cGVHD while maintaining anti-tumor responses.

"Funding from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society is enabling my lab's work to better understand how the immune system can be used to fight blood, lymph and marrow tumors," said Sarantopoulos. "With this grant we will block a pathway that skews B cell maturation away from a pathological and toward a functional endpoint."

Sandeep Dave, MD, MBA, MSDave, who is also director of DCI's Cancer Genetics and Genomics Program, received an LLS TRP grant to develop “Novel combinations to overcome resistance to histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors in lymphoma.” HDAC inhibitors are effective in the treatment of some lymphomas, but resistance to therapy develops within a few months and limits their use. Dave's project will define the genetic mutations that give rise to resistance to HDAC inhibitors in order to develop new combinations of drugs that will overcome resistance. This work could lead to a new clinical trial in DCI that enables new effective options for patients with lymphoma.

"We are excited about pursuing this work and developing effective new therapies for patients with lymphoma," Dave said.

LLS’s Translational Research Program (TRP) grants fund new and innovative research that shows high promise of moving from laboratory discoveries to clinical application. TRP grants are designed to help reduce the time between laboratory findings and actual treatment. LLS’s TRP grants have helped numerous renowned researchers advance their life-saving research into clinical trials. For more information, visit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.