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January 15, 2004

Lymphoma Foundation funds project to treat mantle cell form

The Lymphoma Research Foundation announced last month that it will award $12.8 million in research funding to help find a cure for mantle cell lymphoma, one of the more rare forms of the disease. Eighteen research grants will be provided to institutions throughout the world, with the UW slated to receive $580,000.

“Mantle cell lymphoma is a very aggressive form of the disease and prognosis for patients has been very poor,” said Dr. Joseph Bertino, chair of the LRF Scientific Advisory Board. “But new and experimental therapies now being investigated for mantle cell lymphoma make this the right time to invest research funds. Our goal is to develop new and improved, less toxic therapies to enhance survival rates and ultimately find a cure,” he added.

In June 2003, LRF convened leading scientists from around the world conducting research in mantle cell lymphoma at a two-day workshop to explore the scope and depth of current research worldwide, and to identify the best research projects for consideration of funding. As a result of this workshop and thanks to a $12.8 million anonymous contribution from a New York- based family, LRF will provide funding for eighteen clinical and/or laboratory-based projects. The grant to the UW will also involve the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. Dr. Ajay K. Gopal, assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Medical Oncology at the UW and assistant member in the Clinical Research Division at FHCRC, will direct the project.

Gopal plans to examine the effectiveness of high-dose radioimmunotherapy in patients with mantle cell lymphoma. “We hope that the delivery of high-dose targeted radiation therapy can help cure more patients and reduce side effects at the same time,” he said.

Mantle cell lymphoma is a relatively uncommon B-cell lymphoma which accounts for 5 percent to 7 percent of all adult non- Hodgkin’s lymphoma cases in the United States. It is a malignancy of cells located in the mantle zone of the lymph node, a thin area surrounding individual follicles. Mantle cell lymphoma predominantly affects older males.

More than 500,000 Americans are affected by some form of lymphoma, either non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma or Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Each year another 61,000 new cases are diagnosed and nearly 25,000 people die from the disease. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is the most common cancer of the lymphatic system. For more on the Lymphoma Research Foundation, call 800-500-9976, e-mail helpline@lymphoma.org, or visit the Web site http://www.lymphoma.org.