Loyola receives $250,000 grant to study childhood leukemia

News Archive September 05, 2014

Loyola receives $250,000 grant to study childhood leukemia

MAYWOOD, Ill. –  Loyola has received a $250,000 Hyundai Scholar Hope Grant for pediatric cancer research from Hyundai Hope on Wheels® and Chicago-area Hyundai dealers.

Charles Hemenway, MD, PhD, researcher and professor of pediatric hematology/oncology at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, will use the grant to study acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) in children. “This remains a challenging disease to treat successfully, and we have reached a treatment plateau,” Hemenway said. “Better understanding the biology of this disease could lead to new treatments.”

Hope on Wheels will award a total of $9 million in research grants this September in honor of National Cancer Awareness Month. Loyola is one of 36 recipients of a 2014 Hyundai Scholar Hope Grant. Loyola has received a total of  $350,000 from Hope On Wheels since 2011. The 2014 grant was presented at Loyola on Sept. 4.

Hope On Wheels is commemorating Chicago-area children affected by cancer by capturing their handprints on a white 2014 Hyundai Sonata. The namesake of Hope on Wheels’ September awareness campaign is “Every Handprint Tells A Story. An interactive website  HyundaiHopeOnWheels.org/September includes videos of courageous children sharing insights into their battles with cancer.

Hemenway is studying a protein called MLLT11, which occurs in high levels in more aggressive types of childhood AML. Once the function of the protein is determined, a focused approach could be employed to develop drugs to block that function.

In order to reveal the protein’s function, Hemenway will identify other proteins that are partners of the MLLT11 protein. He also will use genetic tricks to block the protein in AML cells, in order to determine its importance to the survival of these cells.

“Taken together, the findings of these experiments may provide new avenues for the successful treatment of childhood AML,” Hemenway said.

To learn more about Hope on Wheels visit www.HyundaiHopeOnWheels.org

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