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New funding of $2 million for research to get one step closer
to a cure for Follicular Lymphoma.

Our mission at the FLF is to lead new and determined efforts to find innovative treatments and cures for Follicular Lymphoma (FL). In pursuit of this, the CURE FL Awards grant programme seeks to catalyse scientific research focused on FL. By focusing on high-impact studies this programme supports a clear path to clinical trials and the hope of clear benefit and impact to FL patients.

The CURE FL Awards grant programme harnesses top clinical scientists and researchers from around the world, with the most innovative and exciting research projects, which seek to accelerate the development of new and improved treatments towards a cure for FL.

Please watch our video to understand the background and aims of the CURE FL Awards research grant programme.

Play Video

Announcing our 2022 CURE FL Award selected grantees.

We are now delighted to confirm the first group of successful recipients and share more about their exciting areas of research. Each successful investigator will receive a research grant of up to $500K over 2 years, starting in December 2022. We believe this is our first significant step in the journey to deliver our mission to find a cure and find it fast.

Hans-Guido Wendel, MD, PhD, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

Engaging the Inhibitory BTLA Receptor for the Treatment of FL.

A new signal mechanism (HVEM/BTLA) abnormal in 90% of FL cases and important in the genesis of FL has been identified by Dr. Wendel and his group This makes HVEM/BTLA a high-value target specific to FL. CAR-T cells that attack all B cells are an exciting new treatment for FL. This study will use CAR-T in a different way, to specifically attack this FL-specific pathway. The goal is to have a clinical trial of these novel CAR-T cells open for patients by the end of the grant period.

Joshua Brody, MD, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Preventing Antigen Escape After T Cell Therapies by Enhancing Fas-Mediated Bystander Killing.

CAR-T cells are an excellent treatment for some patients with FL, but do not work for everyone. Dr Brody, an expert in immunotherapy of lymphoma, and his team have evidence that bystander cells that do not express the CAR-T target are one mechanism of CAR-T resistance, and that they may have a way to overcome this. Their study may well lead to a clinical trial of CAR-T given with a drug that will enhance the killing of these bystander cells, improving outcomes for patients.

Wendy Béguelin, PhD, Weill Cornell Medicine

Utilizing EZH2 Inhibition to Improve Immune Therapies in FL​.

Dr. Béguelin, an expert in lymphoma biology, along with her clinical collaborators, will conduct trials combining epigenetic-targeted EZH2 inhibitors with immunotherapy (CART or bispecific antibodies), or with apoptosis-targeted BCL2 inhibitors. Using unique FL mouse models and patient samples, she will study combinations of targeted therapies with immunotherapy, including impact on both FL B cells and its microenvironment. The plan is to define effective combinations to improve therapy in FL.

Patricia Pérez-Galán, PhD, Institut d’Investigacions Biomèdiques August Pi I Sunyer

Dual CD19-CART Approaches to Counteract Antigen Escape and Tumour Microenvironment Immune Suppression in FL.

Dr Perez-Galan leads this Spanish group with extensive clinical experience developing CAR-T cell treatment for lymphoma. They will develop new generation dual-targeted CAR-T cells, cells that target not only lymphoma cells but also the surrounding microenvironment that helps keep FL cells alive. They hope to have a clinical trial of the best CAR-T ready by the end of the grant period.

Our hopes for the proposals?

By awarding up to $2 million of funding over the next two years, we are moving one step closer to finding better treatments and a cure for FL.

FL has rarely previously been a central focus for drug development, and we want to change this. With this programme, we are putting FL front and centre in lymphoma research and catalysing the development of therapies for the underserved FL patient populations.

We hope the knowledge gained during these 2-year studies will lead to clinical trials of new CAR-T cell treatments – or combinations – that will provide hope and opportunity to patients and give clinicians knowledge of why certain treatments do and do not work in certain patients.

‘For patients with FL, I want to emphasise that each project aims to have a clinical trial available or in late-stage planning, by the end of the funding period. This demonstrates our commitment to getting new treatments to patients as quickly as possible.’

Dr Mitchell Smith – CMO at the FLF

What are the CURE FL Awards?

This is a unique research grant programme for the FLF, a catalyst for scientific research to lead to better treatments and cures. We hope our leading investigative teams will make strong progress and move quickly towards trials, and for successful outcomes to be available to patients as soon as possible.

The CURE FL Awards are a call for transformative projects in areas of treatment that we have identified as being the most likely to deliver rapid progress towards a cure. The FLF has worked closely with our partners, the Centre for Strategic Philanthropy (CSP) at the Milken Institute, to develop the CURE FL Awards to assess and prioritise targets for philanthropic development for FL therapies. Its aim is to support innovative and impactful FL research with targeted funding.

Why are we doing this?

FL as a condition is often put in the “back seat” in research compared to other forms of lymphomas and blood cancers, and the CURE FL Awards are specifically designed to change that to give an impactful voice to the FL community, to highlight that for patients living with FL, this is not a ‘good cancer’, and should not be overlooked. Follicular Lymphoma (FL) is a disease that for most patients moves between periods of remission and relapse over several years or decades. For a small number of patients where FL progresses earlier, the 5 year survival rates are a low as 50%.

The CURE FL Awards are shining a light on FL and are catalysing focused development of therapies for FL patients.

How did we select the awardees?

From the start, we wanted to direct funding to scientific areas of FL need, with patient interests fully in mind, and able to accelerate the path to the clinic. Through the CURE FL Awards, we link research and clinical communities with patients. Our selected awardees have been chosen with the input and support of a wide range of experts in the global FL field, together with patients to ensure their views and experiences are part of the development process for new treatments.

An extensive review of the FL research landscape identified two areas as the most likely to lead to curative therapies and be available to FL patients as soon as possible:

  • Cellular immunotherapy (CAR-T and others)
  • Targeted therapies (standalone or in combination with other treatments)

We then invited proposals aligned to these priorities, for pre-clinical or clinical research – either as stand-alone treatments or in combination with other treatments for FL. With a panel of experts, we reviewed all the entries and identified a set of extremely high-quality proposals. Each offered the opportunity to accelerate a clear path to clinical trials, with potentially very positive impacts and benefits to patients with FL.

We were delighted to receive almost 40 letters of intent from high-calibre lymphoma groups from around the world. Based on the quality of responses we invited 20 full proposals; then conducted a rigorous 5-month review process with several scientific review panels, advisory boards, and two patient review panels. It was from this thorough process that we were able to identify our successful investigators.

‘The CURE FL Awards mean real progress towards a cure. In speaking on behalf of our members, we feel supported – it helps us to worry less and look forward to a positive future. Wheels are in motion to find cures for us all, so thank you.’

Nicky Greenhalgh – Founder of the Living with Follicular Lymphoma community and Patient Representative on review panel

Interested in finding out more or participating in the CURE FL Awards?

The FLF are currently scoping the next cycle of the CURE FL Awards. If you want to find out more about the FLF or participate in the next cycle of the CURE FL Awards, please contact FLF at info@theflf.org, we would be delighted to speak to you.