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Check Presentation VAI

On 11/23/2021 the Michelle Marie Lunn Hope Foundation (MLHOPE) visited the VanAndel Institute (VAI) and presented a check for $30,000. The funding will go 100% to research on cancer, mainly blood cancer. The VAI has an endowment that provides funding for the overhead to enable this. Researchers Tim Triche, Jr., Ph.D., Translational Biological Informatics, and Hong Wen, Ph.D., Epigenetics and Transcription were with us for lunch and shared the amazing work going on at the institute.

We will be having a few of these researchers at Soup Prize so that they can share the work which they are doing. We also decided to create an event focused on sharing what they are up to and interacting (we did this at lunch and it was amazing).

This note from Dr.Triche provides insight into the types of topics we talked about.β€œFor example, Nate Buteyn in my lab is presenting his work on FUS-ERG leukemia and their mechanism of immunosuppression as a talk at the American Society of Hematology annual meeting this year; Connor Burke, the co-first author on the work and a leukemia survivor himself, completed most of the analyses as his internship project this summer. That project is the one that “accidentally” affects 124,000 prostate cancer patients per year, in addition to the few dozen kids that we “really” care about πŸ˜‰. (It’s the kids who have the horrible outcomes, so, haha only serious — I’m in this business to cure diseases that kill people, full stop.) That project is also supported by the SPORE program grant at VAI, and Nate may be supported by our T32.

But that’s far from the only new news. Lauren Harmon in my lab has found that almost all structural risk factors in pediatric leukemia have a significant sex bias (some are more common in females, some in males, but very few are equally likely in both sexes). Zach DeBruine and Jessica Tagudar (also in my lab) have built a model for cell-of-origin effects that can help determine whether a child with (for example) an MLL rearrangement is likely to relapse into a different lineage (e.g., a child with t(4;11) ALL might relapse with AML, or a child with t(9;11) AML may relapse with ALL).

The model is based on a simple and relatively cheap DNA methylation assay, and the terrible outcomes in these cases may be preventable by treating with different drugs than would normally be used at induction.Outside of our lab, Hong Wen’s lab has a brand new model for myeloproliferative disease, while Alex Zhong (in Bart Williams’ lab, working with Craig Webb) has a new model for juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia, and Connie Krawczyk’s lab has a new model for sex-linked bone marrow failure as well as B-cell malignancies (like ALL). Most of these models have pending or proposed grants lined up to support further work.”

Our first meeting years at the VAI with Dr. Albert was informative, and each year they seem to be doing more! Think I was hooked when Dr. Alberts sent information about using the donation to buy some device for the lab.There is a lot of progress towards a cure to be thankful for this year.

Thank you to our donors, friends, and other supporters.

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