Washington, DC – January 10, 2022 – Today saw the launch of a dedicated grant program aimed at advancing therapeutic discovery for follicular lymphoma (FL), The Follicular Lymphoma Foundation (FLF) CURE FL Awards – Curative Research to Eliminate Follicular Lymphoma.
The FLF CURE FL Awards will focus on work in two areas identified as the most likely currently to lead to curative therapies available to FL patients: cellular immunotherapy, e.g., CAR-T (chimeric antigen receptor T cells), and other targeted therapies, either as stand-alone treatments or in combination with other treatments.
The FLF CURE FL Awards intends to fund up to four research grants in this first round, each providing up to $500,000 over the course of two years to support pre-clinical or clinical research focused on the development of cellular immunotherapy or targeted therapy for FL. The FLF CURE FL Awards are managed and administered by the Milken Institute’s Center for Strategic Philanthropy.
The FLF CURE FL Awards funding program is designed to encourage creative approaches to examine how these therapies can best target a cure for FL. Criteria for assessment will include the potential of any work funded to go into a clinical trial or be applied directly to patient treatment in the near term.
These awards are positioned to drive the field closer to its goal of a cure for FL. This is the first grant round of planned annual assessments, all with a view of accelerating the development of therapeutic candidates.
Why this approach?
Outcomes for patients with FL have improved substantially over the last 40 years: the 5-year survival rate has increased from 65 percent in 1980 to 90 percent in 2021. However, nearly all patients experience relapse, often multiple relapses, over the course of their disease. A subset of patients experience early disease progression and face 5-year survival rates as low as 50 percent. Even patients with more favorable survival rates endure both the psychological toll of an incurable, relapsing disease and the increasing toxicities of therapies designated for later relapses.
Advances in understanding the biology of FL give hope that curative therapies can be developed in the near future. The same advances also teach us that FL is a heterogeneous disease so that such curative therapies will likely require having a tool kit containing various treatment options. Curative treatments and combinations will need to be individualized based on each person’s disease.
To date, FL has rarely been the central focus for drug development: most drugs available to treat FL are also indicated for other lymphomas. By putting FL front and centre, this initiative will catalyse focused development of therapies for this still underserved patient population. Ultimately, the goal is to make curative therapies available to FL patients as soon as possible.
Nicola Mendelsohn, Founder of the FLF said, “We are hugely excited to launch The FLF CURE FL Awards. We are determined to push as rapidly as possible for new treatments that not only improve and extend the life of patients with follicular lymphoma, but that cure the disease once and for all”.
Melissa Stevens, Executive Director of the Milken Institute Center for Strategic Philanthropy, said, “In recent years, smart, strategic philanthropy has been the force behind advancements in medical research. We are proud to work with the FLF to spur research progress that will lead to better treatments for people with FL.”
Dr. Mitchell Smith, Chief Medical Officer at the FLF, said, “Tools are now available to better understand the biology, immunology, and heterogeneity of FL, while novel cellular and targeted therapies are already improving outcomes but will benefit from personalized approaches. Now is the opportune time to take advantage of these rapid scientific and therapeutic advances to eradicate FL.”
Grant proposals for The FLF CURE FL Awards are welcome from industry and research institutions around the world. Initial letters of intent are due February 4, 2022, and full proposals are due April 15, 2022. Funding decisions will be announced in Fall 2022. Inquiries should be directed to [email protected]
To learn more about The CURE FL Awards, visit https://www.theflf.org/the-flf-programme-cure-fl.
Mala Persaud, [email protected], 202-841-9336
About the Follicular Lymphoma Foundation
The Follicular Lymphoma Foundation is the first lymphoma charity dedicated to this specific type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. With the right resources and the right people in our corner, plus the best and most advanced research programmes, we will find a cure – and fast.
The Follicular Lymphoma Foundation was launched in the summer of 2019 by our founder, Nicola Mendelsohn, VP Global Business Group at Meta, who was diagnosed with FL in November 2016.
During her search to understand her condition better, Nicola connected with the ‘Living with Follicular Lymphoma’ Facebook group. Here she had the opportunity to be part of a community of others who shared her journey and who shared their own insight, advice, and support. The group has over 8,000 members globally – a close-knit online community of people going through the same journeys.
The Foundation is dedicated to improving lives for the thousands living with FL today and for everyone who is diagnosed tomorrow. We are a patient-centric organization – created for the patients and with FL patients central to our work.
Our aim is that by the 100th anniversary of the first diagnosis of FL, we will be on the path to a cure – better and less toxic and debilitating treatments, as well as improving the personal journey of every patient.
For more information, visit www.theflf.org
About the Milken Institute
The Milken Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank that helps people build meaningful lives in which they can experience health and well-being, pursue effective education and gainful employment, and access the resources required to create ever-expanding opportunities for themselves and their broader communities. For more information, visit https://milkeninstitute.org/