The Lisa Dean Moseley Foundation announced grant awards to two Nemours research scientists in the amount of $2 million over five years.

Both awards will support pediatric cancer research, in particular, the use of stem cell therapy in the treatment of childhood leukemia.

Erin Crowgey was awarded $1 million over four years for her project focusing on pediatric cancers and stem cell genomics. The Nemours Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders is developing new techniques in genomic sequencing that enable the detection of known and novel mutations in leukemic stem cells, and link these mutations to specific treatment options. The center is scaling techniques to support preclinical drug testing as well as incorporation at the bedside. As data complexity expands, new technologies for data processing and storage are needed. Nemours is developing computational techniques, including using graphical processing units that have traditionally been used in video games, for processing of complex biological data. The Moseley Foundation award will allow significant progress toward a final platform that will be unique in its power, computational scope and size.

Anil Gopalakrishnapillai will receive $1 million over five years to study acute myeloid leukemia among children with Down syndrome. These children possess an extra copy of chromosome 21 and are at high risk for different types of leukemia. Two out of 100 children with Down syndrome develop AML before they turn 5 years of age. Currently, non-specific chemotherapy, highly toxic to young children, is the only option to treat all of these patients, although they fall into different subtypes based on their individual genetic changes. One in five patients will relapse and have no other viable treatment option. Gopalakrishnapillai will be using multi-pronged approaches to identify specific targeted therapies for pediatric Down syndrome AML. One of the goals of the Moseley Foundation grant award is to understand the actionable targets of a class of drugs, called epigenetic drugs, which were found to be more specific and effective than chemotherapy in laboratory models. The ultimate goal is to guide clinicians in choosing treatment options for each individual patient based on the changes in their genome.

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