Irum Khan, assistant professor of hematology/oncology at the University of Illinois College of Medicine and a member of the University of Illinois Cancer Center, was one of 12 scientists in the United States chosen to receive a grant from The Leukemia Research Foundation. Dr. Andrei Gartel, associate professor, and member of the UI Cancer Center is co-Investigator on this study.
Khan, MD, will receive $100,000 in funding year 2019-2020 to conduct research on targeting FOXM1 to improve treatment responses in Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML), a type of cancer that begins in the blood-forming cells of the bone marrow. The development of effective next-generation therapeutics against AML depends on mechanistic understanding of AML biology, especially the molecular regulators of AML chemo-resistance, Khan said.
“Our work will provide a thorough understanding of the regulation and function of FOXM1 in inducing chemo-resistance in AML and facilitate the development of specific FOXM1 inhibitors to enhance the efficacy of available AML therapies,” she said. “The knowledge gained as a result of our work may have a broader application in targeting resistance in other cancers where FOXM1 is upregulated.”
The Leukemia Research Foundation funds research intended to improve understanding of the causes of blood cancers and identify effective cures. The foundation has funded more than 500 research projects since 1946.
“Each year, federal funding becomes more difficult to secure, and new investigators with fresh, groundbreaking ideas can’t get the funding they need to develop their ideas and the data required for greater funding from the NIH and other sources,” said Kevin Radelet, the foundation’s executive director, in a press release. “Leukemia Research Foundation funding not only advances blood cancer science but also jumpstarts careers for these scientists.”
AML is one of the most common types of leukemia in adults, according to the American Cancer Society. It is rare, accounting for only about 1 percent of all cancers. About 21,450 new cases of AML will occur in the United States in 2019, and about 10,920 deaths from AML will happen this year.
The disease is more prevalent in older people – it is uncommon before the age of 45. The average age of people when they are first diagnosed with AML is about 68, the American Cancer Society said. However, it can also occur in children.
Khan also serves as co-chair of the Myeloid Malignancies Clinical Trials Working Group at the Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium.