Weill Cornell Receives $950,000 Grant for Study of Mantle Cell Lymphoma Treatment

Lymphoma Research Foundation Grant to Support Clinical and Laboratory Studies

Feb 27, 2004

New York, NY

A $950,000 grant to fund the study of a new treatment approach for mantle cell lymphoma was recently awarded to Weill Cornell Medical College by the Lymphoma Research Foundation (LRF). Lymphoma is the most common blood cancer and the third most common childhood cancer. Mantle cell lymphoma is a less common but particularly aggressive form of the disease.

The Weill Cornell grant is part of $12.8 million in new LRF grants that will fund research into finding a cure for mantle cell lymphoma. Weill Cornell Medical College received the largest of 18 grants disbursed worldwide.

The grant will fund a clinical trial at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center to investigate a treatment for relapsed mantle cell lymphoma. The new treatment uses a combination of drugs PEP-C chemotherapy, thalidomide, and rituximab. Clinical responses to the PEP-C treatment regimen have been impressive. Additionally, thalidomide and rituximab have been employed together with encouraging results in separate preliminary studies. Importantly, this treatment program consists predominantly of oral drugs, along with a monoclonal antibody, which allows patients to be treated as outpatients and may avoid many of the toxicities of more intensive regimens.

We hope to find that this treatment will benefit mantle cell lymphoma patients,potentially though the inhibition of tumor blood vessel formation, or angiogenesis, says Dr. John P. Leonard, Medical Director of the Oncology Unit and Assistant Attending Physician at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center and Assistant Professor of Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College. Dr. Leonard will lead the research at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell. His collaborators include Dr. Morton Coleman, Director of the Center for Lymphoma and Myeloma at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell and Clinical Professor of Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College; Dr. Shahin Rafii, Professor of Genetic Medicine and Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College; and Dr. Richard Furman, Assistant Attending Physician at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell and Assistant Professor of Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College.

In addition to clinical trials, we plan several correlative and laboratory studies to assess how the treatment works. These findings will then serve as the basis for a variety of anti-angiogenesis treatment approaches for mantle cell and other forms of lymphoma, adds Dr. Leonard.

In June 2003, LRF convened the world's leading mantle-cell-lymphoma researchers at a two-day workshop to explore the scope and depth of current research worldwide and to identify the best research projects for consideration of funding. As a result of this workshop and thanks to a $12.8 million anonymous contribution from a New York-based family affected by mantle cell lymphoma, LRF is funding eighteen clinical and laboratory-based projects.

Mantle cell lymphoma is a relatively uncommon B-cell lymphoma, which accounts for up to seven percent of all adult non-Hodgkin's lymphoma cases in the U.S., or 21,000 individuals. As many as 5,000 new cases of mantle cell lymphoma are diagnosed every year. Mantle cell lymphoma, which is usually located in the lymph node, predominately affects older males. The standard treatment for the disease is generally chemotherapy with or without stem-cell transplantation. Median survival has been reported to be in the range of only 3-5 years, with most patients dying of their disease.

The Lymphoma Research Foundation

The mission of the Lymphoma Research Foundation (LRF) is to eradicate lymphoma and serve those touched by the disease. The Foundation is the nation's largest lymphoma-focused voluntary health organization devoted exclusively to funding research to cure all lymphomas, and providing patients and healthcare professionals with critical information on the disease. To date, LRF has funded over $9 million in lymphoma research. People affected by lymphoma can receive free personalized information tailored to their diagnosis; help with finding a clinical trial; and easy-to-understand information on lymphoma, current treatments, and promising research.