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The 2009 Damon Runyon-Rachleff Innovation Award Granted for Pioneering Ideas for Early Detection of Ovarian and Lung Cancers, Bone Marrow Transplant Safety, and Discovery of New Genetic Markers for Cancer
Date:1/22/2009

nt Safety

Bone marrow transplantation is frequently used to treat cancer, mainly leukemias and lymphomas. When successful, bone marrow transplants literally offer a new lease on life for patients. However, despite close matching of donors to patients, sometimes transplanted cells do not recognize the host's body as compatible and launch an attack upon it. This effect, called Graft Versus Host disease, leads to severe tissue and organ damage, infection, and can result in death.

Prevention of Graft Versus Host disease has long evaded scientists, despite their many efforts. Drs. Maillard and Zhang's promising discovery, focusing on a type of cell activity called 'Notch,' could provide hope for a cure.

The two doctors have established preliminary evidence that Notch activity is a driving force behind Graft Versus Host disease. Moreover, as Notch activity is implicated in other diseases, there may be existing drugs that could be used to treat it.

Dr. Maillard said, "As a doctor, I know firsthand the dangerous side effects associated with Graft Versus Host disease. We hope that through this project we will minimize this life-threatening complication and allow more patients to benefit from the anti-cancer effects of bone marrow transplantation. This award will both facilitate and speed the process of moving towards these goals."

Dr. Zhang said, "The Damon Runyon-Rachleff Innovation Award provides us with much-needed funding to pursue a high risk, high reward project, and could initiate a fruitful cycle of financial support from others who see its potential endorsed at this level. Having the backing of the Rachleffs and the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation, which has funded 11 Nobel Prize winners, is a huge vote of confidence in what we do."

John L. Rinn, Ph.D., the Broad Institute, Beth Israel Deaconess <
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SOURCE Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation
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