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St. Baldrick's Foundation announces $100,000 grant to cancer researcher

The St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a volunteer-driven charity dedicated to raising money for childhood cancer research, has awarded a $100,000 St. Baldrick’s Research Grant to Yubin Ge, Ph.D., assistant professor of Oncology at the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Insititute and Wayne State University School of Medicine.

Worldwide, more than 160,000 children are diagnosed with cancer each year. The disease remains the leading cause of death by disease among children in the United States. With only 3 percent of all federal cancer research funding dedicated to pediatric cancer research, St. Baldrick’s Foundation grant funds are critical to continuing the battle against childhood cancers.

Dr. Ge is one of 21 recipients to receive funding in the research grant category from the foundation. His research focuses on acute myeloid leukemia, the second most common leukemia in children. Among the new agents developed during the last decade, histone deacetylase inhibitors have shown great potential for the treatment of children with AML. It has been shown that HDACIs can significantly enhance the effectiveness of the main drug used for treating children with AML, but the detailed molecular basis underlying that process is unknown. The results of this study will form a solid base for establishing new effective therapies for treating children with this specific disease type.

“Leukemia is the most common form of childhood cancer and cancer is the leading cause of death from disease of American children. Hence, improving leukemia therapy is of utmost importance in pediatric health,” said Dr. Ge, who also serves in the Developmental Therapeutics Program for the Karmanos Cancer Institute. “This is particularly relevant to childhood acute myeloid leukemia, for which progress has lagged significantly in comparison to childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Resistance to anthracycline- and ara-C-based chemotherapy is a major cause of treatment failure in AML. Therefore, new therapies for children with AML are urgently needed to overcome drug resistance, decrease relapse rates, and reduce short- and long-term adverse effects of treatment. I am very grateful to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation for funding our research project exploring novel combinational therapies for children with AML by using histone deacetylases inhibitors and conventional chemotherapy drugs. This research award will help us to achieve our research goal of finding a cure for children with is deadly disease.”

This grant is part of more than $19.6 million in new grants by the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, bringing the total to more than $21 million awarded for the fiscal year. All funding applications were peer-reviewed by leading pediatric cancer researchers who volunteer their time and expertise and make funding recommendations to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation’s board of directors.

St. Baldrick’s signature head-shaving events are among the fastest growing, volunteer-driven fundraising opportunity benefitting childhood cancer research. In 2011, foundation volunteers and supporters raised $26 million by organizing more than 1,000 St. Baldrick’s events and shaving more than 43,500 heads to stand in solidarity with children with cancer.
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