Children's Hospital Colorado Scientist Received Grant to Explore Gene to Increase Survival Rate of Children with High-Risk Leukemia
Funded by CureSearch for Children's Cancer, research could lead to targeted therapies

For Immediate Release:
May 7, 2013
Shelby Gosnell

Bethesda, MD - Chris Porter, MD from the University of Colorado and Children's Hospital Colorado was awarded a $100,000 grant to conduct research focused on using changes in genes to identify new therapeutic strategies for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Dr. Porter is funded through CureSearch for Children's Cancer's Young Investigator Program, which funds researchers focused on the highest risk and poorest outcome cancers.

With an overall survival rate of 80%, most leukemia patients receive a standardized treatment that has been proven successful. However, when a patient with leukemia relapses, their chances of survival decrease significantly. Dr. Porter plans to research why these cancers do not respond well to traditional chemotherapy, and what therapies can be created to improve survival rates by exploring the genes responsible for initiating and maintaining the leukemia.

Recent studies have shown that patients with ALL have several genetic alterations which are suspected to contribute to the formation, development, and progression of leukemia and/or treatment failure. Dr. Porter plans to conduct his research by exploring clinically relevant non-oncogene and escape pathway addictions in ALL with mutated Ikaros, which is associated with treatment failure. Oncogenes are ones that cause cancer, but are paradoxically toxic to the cell. Therefore, the cell adapts to survive. The adaptation at surviving is called a non-oncogene addiction. Similarly, although chemotherapy kills most cancer cells, some may survive by changing to become resistant to treatment, referred to as an escape pathway addiction.

Dr. Porter hypothesizes that when a gene called Ikaros gene is mutated, changes occur that allow cell survival. He intends to determine what these changes are and how these cells resist chemotherapy. Dr. Porter hopes that this will lead to improved treatments for leukemia patients.

CureSearch is currently funding 12 Young Investigators focused on cancers with the highest risk and poorest outcomes, who are also individuals with the potential to make noteworthy advancements in children's cancer research. Young Investigators, like Dr. Porter, are in the early stages of their scientific careers and are located at universities, research institutions, and hospitals throughout the United States.

To learn more about Dr. Porter and the Young Investigator program, visit


CureSearch for Children's Cancer is a national non-profit foundation whose mission is to fund and support targeted and innovative children's cancer research with measurable results, and is the authoritative source of information and resources for all those affected by children's cancer. CureSearch raises funds for promising research conducted at more than hospitals in the United States and through the CureSearch Investigational Research Initiative, funds basic, translational and clinical research that offers the greatest potential to design treatments and improve outcomes for children with difficult-to-treat cancers.

Christine Bork
Email Christine
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