Pediatric Oncology Hosts Bone Marrow Drive
You could help create a cure for a child with a life-threatening blood cancer, such as leukemia and lymphoma. Your healthy bone marrow could be a possible “match” for a pediatric patient in need of a transplant to survive his or her disease.
The Division of Pediatric Oncology is sponsoring a bone marrow drive, Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2-9 p.m., in the Schaeffer Auditorium, on the main level of the Bloomberg Children’s Center building. Oncology nurses will screen Johns Hopkins staff and visitors. Screening includes a swab of the inner cheek, to determine “type” and placement on a donor registry.
Because minorities are underrepresented in the national registries, minority children’s chances of having a matched donor are diminished. Johns Hopkins, thus, encourages those of an ethnic or racial minority to consider becoming donors.
For more information, contact Susan Crabbin, 410-955-7195.
Learn more about the donation process
Novel Mouse Model Could Further Understanding of Leukemias
Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center investigators have genetically engineered a new mouse that mimics a common form of leukemia in humans. Studying the model could lead to new understanding of the disease, they say.
The mice were bred to express a protein mutation within a gene known as FMS-like tyrosine kinase 3 (FLT3). The gene that forms FLT3's blueprint controls the development of healthy blood cells; mutations to it are seen in approximately a third of adult and pediatric cases of acute myeloid leukemia (AML).
Mutations in FLT3 are found in various regions of the gene, and the Johns Hopkins scientists designed the mouse to better understand the workings of the two most common ones in AML. They are ITD mutations, which cause a very aggressive form of the disease, and D835Y mutations, which cause a less aggressive form of the disease. The new mouse specifically expresses D835Y mutations. Mice bred to express ITD mutations were previously developed by the Johns Hopkins team.
To date, scientists have not understood why the ITD mutations cause more aggressive disease, says Donald Small, M.D., Ph.D., the Kyle Haydock Professor of Oncology and director of pediatric oncology at Johns Hopkins. Small led a team of researchers who originally cloned the FLT3 gene and linked it to leukemia a decade ago.
Patients with ITD mutations have only a 15 percent chance of a cure, Small says, compared with patients who have D835Y mutations, who have about a 50 percent chance of a cure. Studies comparing the new mice, containing D835Y mutations, with mice expressing ITD mutations provide “an ideal platform for dissecting the molecular mechanisms underlying the differences between the two mutations, and for drug screening against the two,” he says.
In work published online Nov. 18 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Small and his colleagues reported that FLT3 mutation types (either D835Y or ITD) are directly related to the aggressiveness of disease. In laboratory studies, the investigators found that mice with D835Y mutations, like people, develop much less aggressive disease than those with ITD mutations, both in disease severity and survival. D835Y mice lived an average of 1.5 times longer than those with ITD mutations – an average of 678 days versus 430 days. Those with the D835Y mutations also maintained a higher white blood-cell count and were not nearly as depleted in blood stem cells as those with the ITD mutations. The D835Y mutant mice also developed a broader spectrum of blood cancers, including lymphomas.
Investigators also tested the anticancer drugs Lestaurtinib (CEP-701) and sorafenib in the two types of mice. After 48 hours of treatment, the FLT3/D835Y mice responded to Lestaurtinib only, while the FLT3/ITD mice responded to both drugs.
“This new mouse model should enable us to further explore why patients with FLT3/ITD mutations have worse prognosis,” Small says. He and his team, he says, will be looking at the genes turned on and off by these mutations to further study molecular changes involved in leukemia development, and investigate pathways involved in other leukemias.
Coauthors of the study were Emily Bailey, Li Li, Amy S. Duffield, Hayley S. Ma, and David L. Huso. The work was supported by a National Institutes of Health (CA 090668 and CA 070970), the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and the Giant Food Pediatric Cancer Research Fund.
Link to the PNAS study
Giant Food's Triple Winner Program
Triple Winner has raised over $11 million for pediatric cancer research, making it one of the most successful cause-marketing programs in the nation. This year Giant has committed to raise $1.6 million, a $100,000 increase from 2012, in critical funds for the fight against children’s cancer.
Customers donated $1 at their neighborhood Giant to receive a Triple Winner scratch card. Every card is a winner, and prizes include a free product, gift card, or cash up to $10,000. One hundred percent of the donations will go directly to the Pediatric Oncology Division at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center and The Children’s Cancer Foundation.
Read more about the Program and meet this year’s Patient Ambassadors
Proceeds from Ways to Live Forever Film Benefit Johns Hopkins Pediatric Oncology
Joining forces to beat childhood cancer and raise awareness, Johns Hopkins Pediatric Oncology has been selected by World Wide Motion Pictures Corporation to receive a portion of the proceeds from the film, Ways to Live Forever. Johns Hopkins, along with other cancer-related organizations will receive a portion of the box-office proceeds from the North American release of the film, Ways to Live Forever.
"The funds will be used for research on childhood cancers such as leukemia. Types of funding sources are even more critical in these days of federal cutbacks of research funding," said Donald Small, M.D., Ph.D., director of the pediatric oncology division at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center.
The film is based on the acclaimed British children's novel by Sally Nicholls. It tells the inspiring story of an ambitious 12-year-old named Sam and his best friend, Felix. Sam has leukemia and although the adults in his life don’t want him to dwell on it, Sam wants to know everything about his disease and death, a possibility he might face. In this poignant yet ultimately uplifting tale, Sam and his family face the immensity of an uncertain future with love, humor, and a touch of the unexpected.
Singer Savannah Outen Dedicates Song to Teen Cancer Patient
On March 18, YouTube sensation and Disney recording artist Savannah Outen will sing her newly-recorded song “Brave and True” to 16 year-old Bo Oliver, a cancer patient at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center.
Outen was paired with Oliver this past summer through Music is Medicine’s Donate a Song project. Outen wrote and recorded the song in Oliver’s honor. The song and music video will be sold to raise money for Johns Hopkins pediatric oncology research.
Music is Medicine Program Makes Dream Come True for Patient
Leora Friedman is 19 years old, a sophomore at Princeton, and the CEO of Music is Medicine, a youth-run organization that harnesses the power of music to make a difference in the lives of seriously-ill children.
What started out as a local service project in 2008 when Leora was 15, Music is Medicine has shot up to celebrity level status with “Donate a Song,” a project that empowers celebrity artists to use their talents to fund childhood disease research.