Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center Receives Highly Competitive NCI SPORE Grant for Leukemia Research with a Focus on Acute Myeloid Leukemia

Omar Abdel-Wahab, MD

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) recently awarded Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) with a prestigious Specialized Programs of Research Excellence (SPORE) grant for leukemia research. The Translational Research Program (TRP) is the home of the SPOREs — a cornerstone of NCI’s efforts to promote collaborative, interdisciplinary translational cancer research.

MSK’s efforts conducted under this grant will focus on acute myeloid leukemia (AML) research. Despite recent advances in the treatment of AML, the majority of AML patients relapse following treatment, and the overall five-year survival rate for adults with AML remains at 25-29%. The SPORE grant will allow MSK researchers to leverage collective efforts to develop effective targeted therapies and immunotherapeutic approaches for several molecular subtypes of AML, including some that currently lack therapeutic options.

“As researchers and clinicians, we are constantly striving to create better treatments for the patients we care for,” said Omar Abdel-Wahab, MD, Director of the MSK Center for Hematologic Malignancies. “This SPORE grant is truly a motivator for us to fully collaborate. It will allow us to bring together a team of experts in different areas to make the overall research effort stronger.”

About the MSK Leukemia SPORE

MSK’s leukemia SPORE is organized around four translational projects. Each project is headed by basic and clinical investigators who work together to address a specific aspect of the disease. The projects have their own co-leaders, but the researchers for all of the projects constantly collaborate.

  • Project 1: Increasing therapeutic efficacy in isocitrate dehydrogenase (IDH)–mutant AML
  • Project 2: Defining and exploiting genetic dependencies in complex karyotype AML
  • Project 3: Therapeutic inhibition of splicing through inhibition of protein arginine methylation in leukemia
  • Project 4: Chimeric antigen receptor T cell therapy for the treatment of AML

MSK’s SPORE in leukemia has the potential to develop practice-changing approaches for the evaluation and management of AML and directly lead to improved patient outcomes.

About SPORE Grants

Each SPORE is focused on a specific organ site, such as breast or lung cancer, a group of highly related cancers, such as gastrointestinal cancers and sarcomas, or a common pathway or theme that ties together the cancers under study. SPOREs are designed to enable the rapid and efficient movement of basic scientific findings into clinical settings, as well as to determine the biological basis for observations made in individuals with cancer or in populations at risk for cancer. SPOREs are required to reach a human end-point within the 5-year funding period. Almost 20 organ sites, systems, and pathway-specific themes are represented in the SPORE portfolio, including bladder, brain, breast, cervical, endometrial, gastrointestinal, head and neck, liver, kidney, leukemia, lung, lymphoma, myeloma, neuroendocrine, ovarian, pancreatic, prostate, sarcoma, and skin.

The objective for all SPORE grants is to reduce cancer incidence and mortality and to improve survival and quality of life for cancer patients. SPOREs encourage the advice of patient advocates in SPORE activities.

To learn more about SPORE grants, please visit