Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation awards $4.95 million to Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s researchers as part of its Crazy 8 Initiative to advance pediatric cancer research
March 16, 2021
Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF), a leading
funder of pediatric cancer research, has awarded a $4.95 million dollar grant
to Leonard Zon, MD, of Boston Children’s Hospital through its Crazy 8
Initiative, which aims to provide detailed roadmaps toward cures for specific,
hard-to-treat childhood cancers through collaborative research. Through this
grant, “Barcoding Pediatric Leukemia for Therapeutic Purposes,” Zon will
collaborate extensively with other scientists at Boston Children’s Hospital and
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, including Scott A. Armstrong, MD, PhD; Vijay G.
Sankaran, MD, PhD; Fernando Camargo, PhD; and Serine Avagyan, MD, PhD.
Led by Zon, investigators are using a new genetic
fingerprinting technology to study how blood cancers, such as leukemia, arise
in development. They aim to understand what types of blood stem cells lead to
different forms of pediatric leukemia and which key gene and pathway
disruptions can alter stem cell function and subsequently kill leukemia cells.
Ultimately this will inform new drug development for therapies that will
disrupt leukemic stem cells and not normal blood stem cells.
“We are very excited about the impact the Crazy 8
Initiative projects will have on childhood cancer research and ultimately on
kids with cancer,” said Jay Scott, Co-Executive Director of Alex’s Lemonade
Stand Foundation. “Dr. Zon’s cellular barcoding project uses a new technology
that will help us learn more how childhood leukemias arise in development.
Importantly, this new technology can be extended to learn more about the
development of all childhood cancers, making an even larger impact.”
The Initiative kicked off in the Fall of 2018 with
a meeting that brought together more than 90 scientists from around the world
to help define the research landscape in eight key areas of need in order to
tackle major obstacles impeding progress toward cures for childhood cancer.
Through a rigorous review process, ALSF received over 100 letters of intent
from researchers that resulted in 83 full grant applications which were
ultimately narrowed down to four projects that will work to accelerate the pace
of new cure discovery.
“The Crazy 8 Initiative is vital because it
orchestrates talent from around the world and creates collective solutions.
Pediatric cancer research is at an incredibly pressing moment right now, and
we’re thrilled to be at the forefront of this progress—generating opportunities
to turn competition into collaboration by bringing world-class researchers
together,” said Liz Scott, Co-Executive Director of Alex’s Lemonade Stand
Foundation. “This initiative is monumental, and we know it will provide a
tremendous impact globally in moving the needle for pediatric cancer research
over the next five years.”
Childhood cancer is the leading cause of death by
disease in children, and the Crazy 8 Initiative is poised to change the trajectory
of pediatric oncology. Grants from the Crazy 8 Initiative will fund research
for innovative and rigorous approaches that directly address the most obstinate
issues in pediatric cancer research. A key component of the Initiative is its
approach in bringing cross-disciplinary scientists to work collaboratively in
order to accelerate the pace of new cure discovery. For example, connecting
neurologists and biologists with pediatric oncologists to work hand-in-hand in
growing scientific discovery, while aiming to provide detailed roadmaps for
hard-to-treat childhood cancers.
About Alex’s Lemonade
Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF) emerged
from the front yard lemonade stand of 4-year-old Alexandra “Alex” Scott, who
was fighting cancer and wanted to raise money to find cures for all children
with cancer. Her spirit and determination inspired others to support her cause,
and when she passed away at the age of 8, she had raised $1 million. Since
then, the Foundation bearing her name has evolved into a national fundraising
movement. Today, ALSF is one of the leading funding of pediatric cancer
research in the U.S. and Canada raising more than $200 million so far, funding
over 1,000 research projects and providing programs to families affected by
childhood cancer. For more information, visit https://www.alexslemonade.org/.