Two Nonprofits Join Forces to Find a New Hairy Cell Leukemia Therapy

According to a story from PR Newswire, a new collaboration between the Hairy Cell Leukemia Foundation (HCLF) and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) will aim to support critical research grants that will focus on improving the understanding of hairy cell leukemia, improving patient outcomes, and developing new treatments. This support tops out at $10 million over a five year period.

About Hairy Cell Leukemia

Hairy cell leukemia is a rare subtype of chronic lymphocytic leukemia. It is characterized by the abnormal proliferation of B cell lymphocytes, which are a type of white blood cell. This is one of the rarest blood cancers, with only about 2,000 diagnosed cases per year in both Western Europe and the US combined. The name is in reference to the “hairy” appearance of the cancerous B cells when observed under a microscope. The cause of this cancer is not well understood, but possible risk factors include exposure to herbicides or pesticides and mutations of the BRAF gene. Symptoms include enlarged spleen, bleeding and bruising easily, infections, anemia, and fatigue. Treatment options for this cancer can include single agent chemotherapy, monoclonal antibodies, interferon-alpha, and surgical removal of the spleen. Treatment is often successful and most patient’s lives are not shortened by the disease. To learn more about this cancer, click here.

About The Program

The program, known as HCL2025, is currently accepting research proposals from around the world. Letters of intent will be due by 3 pm on January 29, 2021, and full applications (by invitation only) will be accepted until April 16th, 2021. Awards will be granted in October.

While treatment for hairy cell leukemia can be effective in most patients, there are still a significant portion that experience relapse. There has been some recent progress in improving treatments, such as the approval of moxetumomab pasudotox in 2018, and the B-Raf inhibitor vemurafenib (currently approved for melanoma) also holds promise. Nevertheless, new achievements will be necessary before the disease can be managed effectively and cured. 

To learn more about the grant program, click here.

To learn more about the activities of the Hairy Cell Leukemia Foundation, click here.

To learn more about the activities of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, click here.

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