Alex’s Lemonade Stand Awards $1 Million to Boston Doctors

Four doctors will receive $250,000 each to study childhood cancer.

Unfortunately, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) estimates that more than 15,000 children and adolescents will be diagnosed with cancer in 2014. Dedicated to finding a cure for the disease, Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation—a non-profit based in Pennsylvania—has recently awarded a total of $5.25 million to 21 researchers throughout the country, including four in Boston. Each doctor will receive $250,000 over the next two years to research new treatments and potential cures for childhood cancer.

Below, Boston’s award recipients and their projects:

Name: Hanno Hock
Affiliation: Massachusetts General Hospital
Research Focus: Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia

Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia is the most common form of cancer in children, according to the NCI. It affects the blood and bone marrow. Using a mouse model, Hanno plans to recreate the process which leads to the development of childhood leukemia as means to further understand the disease and develop less-toxic therapies.

Name:  Rosalind Segal
Affiliation: Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Research Focus: Medulloblastoma

According to the Mayo Clinic, medulloblastoma, a fast-growing brain tumor, is the most common cause of cancer death in children. Despite the advances in treatment, not all tumors respond to the new drugs. Segal aims to find out why the drugs fail in some cases and develop alternative treatments that are more successful in attacking specific tumor mutations.

Name:  A.Thomas Look
Affiliation: Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Research Focus: Neuroblastoma

According to the American Cancer Society, neuroblastomas are tumors that originate in developing nerve cells of the sympathetic nervous system. Researchers have discovered that inherited changes in what is known as the LMO1 gene are associated with increased risk of neuroblastoma. Using a new zebrafish model, Look will study the regulation of the LMO1 gene to identify “druggable proteins” as potential targets of new drug therapies.

Name:  Rani George
Affiliation: Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Research Focus: MYC/MYCN-driven cancers

Previous research shows that over-expression of the MYC and MYCN genes is associated with poor outcomes for neuroblastoma patients. An enzyme known as CDK7 contributes to the over-expression of the MYC gene. George will study the process by which a CDK7-inhibitor kills “MYCN-amplified” neuroblastoma cells by testing it with animal models.