With grant support from Swim Across America–Charlotte, researchers at Levine Cancer Institute and Levine Children’s Hospital aim to make progress with the following projects. Since 2017, Swim Across America–Charlotte has awarded more than $750,000 to fund research and education programs at LCI.
Grant Recipient: Greg Knight, M.D.
Project: How Distress and Psychologic Well-Being Affect Outcomes for Patients with Hematologic Malignancies
As the science of cancer treatment in the United States continues to accelerate and treatment becomes more personalized (and expensive), barriers to the implementation of optimal cancer care have been increasingly recognized as major determinants of outcomes. Evidence is emerging that psychosocial stress is impacting care. Such data have led to almost all major professional oncologic organizations, including ASCO, NCCN, and American College of Surgeons’ Commission on Cancer, recommending screening for stress as part of routine care. With funding from Swim Across America, Dr. Knight is leading a first of its kind study, exploring the impact of stress in hematologic malignancies, and examine how to alleviate these stressors to improve the outcomes for these patients.
Grant Recipients: Srinivasa Sanikommu, M.D.; Lawrence Druhan, Ph.D.
Project: Effects of Vitamin C in Patients with Leukemia and Myelodysplasia
Vitamin C has long been postulated to have beneficial/and preventative effects in many diseases, but whether and/or how vitamin helps patients with blood cancers is unknown. We have seen in the laboratory that when vitamin C is added to some chemotherapy agents, there is inhibition of cancer cell growth. Thus, if vitamin C is deficient in some patients, it is possible that responses to therapy could be improved by addition of vitamin C. With funding from Swim Across America, Drs. Sanikommu and Druhan are studying how the addition of Vitamin C could improve the outcomes for patients with leukemia and blood cancers, and potentially even prevent the development of these diseases.
Grant Recipient: Brittany Ragon, M.D
Project: Personalized Medicine for the Treatment of Leukemia
In leukemia care, the choice and dosing of therapy can be an empiric exercise; there are increasing data showing that best therapies and best dosing can be predicted using genetics. A new drug called venetoclax (ven) is now part of the standard treatment for upfront treatment in many patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Despite improvements in outcomes for AML patients with venetoclax, the real-world usage of ven is complex, and toxicities leading to dose modifications are common. Using funding from Swim Across America, Dr. Ragon is leading an innovative study to explore candidate gene changes as predictors of response to ventoclax-containing regimens to develop a personalized approach to patient care.
Grant Recipient: Yifan Pang, M.D.
Project: Immune System Functional Monitoring to Improve Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant
Hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT) can be the cure for many blood diseases. Including adults and children, more than 8,000 HSCTs are performed in the U.S. annually and more than 50,000 world-wide. The success of HSCT is dependent on the reconstitution of the immune system from transplanted cells, which is responsible for controlling infections, preventing transplant rejection, and prevention of disease recurrence. Current methods to monitor immune reconstitution are not good at measuring the global health of the immune system. Therefore, it is critical to identify a reliable marker to comprehensively measure post-HSCT immune reconstitution to prevent complications and improve outcomes. With funding from Swim Across America, Dr. Yifan Pang will lead a project aimed at the development of a novel method to measure immune reconstitution after HSCT using cutting-edge next generation sequences methods.