Gordon and Odde

UMN’s Gordon and Odde receive a NCI grant to study how the brain protects leukemia cells from chemotherapy

University of Minnesota’s Gordon and Odde receive a National Cancer Institute (NCI) grant to study how the brain protects leukemia cells from the effects of chemotherapy

Peter Gordon, MD, PhD, an Assistant Professor in the Medical School’s Department of Pediatrics and practicing Pediatric Hematologist/Oncologist with M Health Fairview, along with David Odde, PhD, Professor with the Department of Biomedical Engineering in the College of Science and Engineering, were awarded the five-year, $350,000 R37 grant by the NCI for their study “Overcoming Leukemia Chemoresistance in the Central Nervous System.”

According to the research team, current therapies for leukemia in the central nervous system are extremely toxic and not entirely effective because the brain mistakenly protects leukemia cells. Leukemia recurrence within the central nervous system is fairly common and a priority for researchers like Gordon and Odde.

“Leukemia, a cancer of white blood cells which arises in the bone marrow, is a systemic disease that involves many tissues in the body including the central nervous system -- the brain and surrounding tissues,” said Gordon. “Treating leukemia in the central nervous system is a significant clinical challenge.”

“We have shown that tissues surrounding the brain can protect leukemia cells from the therapeutic effects of chemotherapy,” noted Gordon. “In this proposal, we will test new therapeutic strategies to target leukemia cells in the central nervous system. This work could lead to more effective and less toxic therapies for leukemia patients.”

The grant mechanism funding Gordon and Odde’s research, the Method to Extend Research in Time (MERIT)(R37) Award, provides longer-term grant support to Early Stage Investigators (ESIs) to support five years of research with the opportunity of an extension of up to two additional years. This mechanism is awarded to junior investigators with high impact studies that can get additional funding based on a review of the study’s accomplishments during the initial funding period.

The American Cancer Society, Children's Cancer Research Fund, and Hyundai Hope on Wheels provided funding for the preliminary research that led to the data needed to apply for the NCI R37 grant.

About the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota
The Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota, is the Twin Cities’ only Comprehensive Cancer Center, designated ‘Outstanding’ by the National Cancer Institute. As Minnesota’s Cancer Center, we have served the entire state for more than 25 years. Our researchers, educators, and care providers have worked to discover the causes, prevention, detection, and treatment of cancer and cancer-related diseases. Learn more at cancer.umn.edu.

About the University of Minnesota Medical School
The University of Minnesota Medical School is at the forefront of learning and discovery, transforming medical care and educating the next generation of physicians. Our graduates and faculty produce high-impact biomedical research and advance the practice of medicine. Learn how the University of Minnesota is innovating all aspects of medicine by visiting www.med.umn.edu.