The Jesse and Julie Rasch Foundation of Toronto has played an important role in helping to gain a greater understanding of cancer, with the goal that this will lead to the development of new anti-cancer agents. The Rasch Foundation has provided a generous gift of $130,000 to identify agents that specifically target the Hodgkin’s Lymphoma microenvironment. This project will be performed by Drs. Rob Laister and John Kuruvilla, with an aim of translating new research from the laboratory directly to patients in the clinic.
Hodgkin’s lymphoma is a blood cancer characterized by high cure rates using standard treatments, including multi-agent chemotherapy and radiation. Cure rates, for the most part, are high enough that treatment strategies now focus on minimizing therapy in order to avoid side effects that develop years after completion of treatment. In a minority of patients, the disease recurs and strategies such as stem cell transplantation are utilized. New treatments are needed to provide options for patients that have failed standard therapies and for patients at high risk of treatment failure. Also, new treatment strategies are needed to continue to reduce the number of patients who may develop complications arising from standard treatments.
Princess Margaret is world-renowned as an expert centre in the treatment of Hodgkin’s lymphoma. This innovative translational research project represents an opportunity to add an element of precision medicine to the field of lymphoma treatment. “The goal of targeting the microenvironment in Hodgkin’s lymphoma is an important one,” stated Dr. Kuruvilla. “We have finally entered a time where novel treatments work in this disease, but there is little understanding as to how the tumor microenvironment may promote resistance to normally effective treatments.”
The potential applications of targeting the tumor microenvironment extend far beyond Hodgkin’s lymphoma. “Only 2% of a Hodgkin’s lymphoma tumor is comprised of malignant cells. The rest of the tumor is made of normal cells, the biology of which has been altered by the presence of this small number of cancer cells. As such, it is an excellent model to study the microenvironment,” explained Dr. Laister. “The information we glean from this project is very likely to be important in other kinds of lymphomas and could have more widespread application to both blood and solid tumors. We are very excited to have this opportunity to study this important area in cancer biology.”
The Jesse and Julie Rasch Foundation was established in 2000 to invest in causes that reflect the charitable interests of the Rasch family. Jesse Rasch is widely credited with establishing the wholesale web hosting market segment that is a significant component of the $30 billion annual web hosting market. In 2001, he was awarded the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award, and is active in encouraging other entrepreneurs to participate in strategic philanthropy.
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