RARE Daily

UVA Cancer Center Gets $5.8 million to Develop Treatments for Rare Blood Cancers

August 5, 2022

The UVA Cancer Center said it received an anonymous gift of $5.8 million to accelerate the development of new treatments for rare blood cancers and provide more patients with these cancers access to cutting-edge clinical trials.

UVA’s National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center will use the donation to establish a new Translational Orphan Blood Cancer Research Initiative Fund. The initiative already has several projects in the pipeline that will help doctors better understand and treat rare blood cancers.

“Individually, these cancers affect relatively small numbers of people when compared with other cancers, but collectively they touch the lives of countless patients and families,” said K. Craig Kent, chief executive officer of UVA Health and executive vice president for health affairs at the University of Virginia. “We are deeply grateful for this generous gift that will allow us to conduct important, groundbreaking cancer research and develop new treatments that will benefit patients around the world.”

The new fund will be overseen by Thomas Loughran Jr., director of UVA Cancer Center, and Owen O’Connor, an international authority on lymphoma. The fund will support efforts in the battle against rare blood cancers, including research, drug development, and a special training fellowship in orphan blood cancers. In addition, the fund will allow UVA to help subsidize patients’ travel costs to participate in clinical trials, allowing more people to do so.

The donation will help support Loughran’s research into the rare blood cancer large-granular lymphocytic leukemia. He discovered the disease and is a leading expert on its treatment. He will work to identify new treatment targets and develop new approaches to improve outcomes for patients with the cancer and other malignancies in T-cells.

O’Connor will work to develop innovative therapeutics for peripheral T-cell lymphoma and cutaneous T-cell lymphoma. Other projects include developing treatment for mantle cell lymphoma.

The Cancer Center will also launch a new effort to increase collaborations with top researchers outside UVA. This will include awarding three $250,000 grants to foster these collaborations.

The Cancer Center said it will provide patients with financial assistance to help cover the cost of traveling to participate in clinical trials. For many patients, the lack of access to an academic medical center such as UVA is a major barrier to accessing clinical trials that are the testing ground for the latest treatments.

In addition, UVA will launch a monthly lecture series for faculty and staff to keep them abreast of state-of-the-art treatments and the latest developments in the battle against rare blood cancers.

Author: Rare Daily Staff

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