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MDS researchers join forces to advance patient treatments and outcomes

NEW YORK (June 18, 2012) NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center is one of six institutions selected to join the newly-founded MDS Clinical Research Consortium. The Consortium's mission is to significantly advance treatments and patient outcomes for Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS) through innovative research and clinical trials.

The five-year, $16 million multi-institution initiative is the first privately funded MDS research consortium in the United States. It is sponsored by the Aplastic Anemia & MDS International Foundation of Rockville, Md., and supported by the Edward P. Evans Foundation. The Consortium's funding to Weill Cornell Medical College will support MDS research at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center.

MDS is a cancer of bone marrow stem cells that inhibits the body's ability to produce healthy blood cells. The disease can be treated and, in some cases, controlled, but currently, the only cure is stem cell transplantation. The new Consortium will help fill a major gap in the United States for MDS-related clinical research by joining dedicated academic medical centers with a high volume of MDS patients, an established database of current and former patients and a significant track record of participation in MDS clinical trials. The collaboration will facilitate evaluation of promising new compounds, epidemiological studies and translational research studies leading to new classifications, treatments and procedures for MDS.

"MDS is an under-recognized disease. Sometimes we don't know why a patient has developed MDS, but we do know that those who have been exposed to cancer chemotherapy and radiation therapy are at increased risk," says Dr. Gail J. Roboz, Weill Cornell Medical College's principal investigator for the Consortium and director of the Leukemia Program at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center. "This Consortium offers a wonderful opportunity to develop new therapies and also to profile patients using the latest, state-of-the-art technologies so we can start to understand who gets MDS and why."

Other Consortium partners include the Cleveland Clinic's Taussig Cancer Institute, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, MD Anderson Cancer Center, H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute and the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins.

"One of the greatest challenges in research of rare diseases like MDS is having enough patients to conduct meaningful clinical trials. No single center can do it alone. This uniquely collaborative effort overcomes that barrier," said John Huber, Executive Director of the Aplastic Anemia & MDS International Foundation. "To have these six leading MDS research centers working together in this way is unprecedented," Huber added. The Aplastic Anemia & MDS International Foundation will expand its programs for MDS patients, their families, and caregivers and local physicians who support and complement the aims and purposes of the Consortium.

"We are extremely pleased to work in partnership with AA&MDSIF and these six outstanding Consortium members. This collaborative endeavor reflects Mr. Evans' desire to support the highest quality MDS research, which will lead to improved treatments for patients and, ultimately, to finding a cure," said an Evans Foundation trustee.


Contact: Lauren Woods
New York- Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center/Weill Cornell Medical College

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