Lurie's Update: December 2019
December 27, 2019

Lurie's Update: December 2019

The generous support of Cal's Angels is enabling cancer biologist Xiao-Nan Li, MD, PhD, to break new ground and accelerate progress for children and young adults battling cancer. We appreciate your commitment and are pleased to provide an update on recent activities made possible as a result of your generosity.

As Director of Pediatric Xenograft Modeling at Lurie Children's Stanley Manne Children's Research Institute, Dr. Li is working to develop more precise and effective treatments to combat pediatric cancer. His expertise in creating animal tumor models that parallel the unique attributes of individual tumors that develop in humans (patient-derived orthotopic xenograft or PDOX models) truly sets apart our Precision Medicine Oncology initiative from all others.

Dr. Li has transferred to Chicago frozen xenograft cells stored in liquid nitrogen from most of the original models (> 120) he created at his previous institution, Texas Children's Hospital. In his new laboratory in the Louis A. Simpson and Kimberly K. Querrey Biomedical Research Center, Dr. Li is working to recreate his mouse models of tumor biology derived from patient tumor tissue and begin testing a variety of approved and investigational therapies. He has built a team of four accomplished researchers to oversee this work and is he process of recruiting up to five additional postdoctoral fellows/research technicians.

Dr. Li's PDOX modeling work continues to advance the development of novel treatments for the most aggressive childhood brain cancers. While he remains focused on this important work, his team is now extending their studies to other pediatric cancers such as leukemia and solid tumors. The research group has implanted five leukemia samples from Lurie Children's biorepository in animal models and, most recently, 60 mice with malignant brain tumors in the new animal facility in the middle of August 2019. The mice are being closely monitored for evidence of tumor formation. Dr. Li's lab is actively expanding the cohorts of their special strain of immune-deficient animals through breeding and is now starting implantation of new childhood cancers tumors, including nearly 21 solid tumors/brain cancers and 33 leukemias. He expects to implant 50-70 new patient tumors in 2019, and steadily increase the number to 80-120 per year after 2020. With a tumor take rate of 50-60 percent, this should result in 20 new models by 2020, and more than 40 new models after 2021.

Generous support provided through Cal's Angels will accelerate Dr. Li's work by giving him the tools to lead the way in advancing truly personalized medicine. He is in the process of acquiring an advanced high-throughput robotic drug screening system that will give him the capacity to study thousands of potential new treatments with greater speed and efficiency than ever before. The Echo Liquid Handling technology and Access Laboratory Workstation are powerful tools to support drug discovery, allowing us to simultaneously test thousands of approved anti-cancer drugs as well as new compounds in different combinations. A robotic arm moves droplets of candidate drugs, in miniscule amounts, from storage tubes into wells on assay plates, preventing the risk of cross contamination from human contact. Tumor cells are added to the wells, and the robot monitors for promising drug responses. Because the technology works 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Dr. Li hopes to be able to screen thousands of drug combinations. Those that show the greatest success will be rapidly advanced for additional studies in his PDOX models. This equipment has been ordered and he is now awaiting delivery. Additionally, Dr. Li plans to expand his current drug library from 8,000 to 110,000 therapies by including more investigational agents against human cancers. Ultimately, his goal is to translate the most promising therapies into future clinical trials for children.

We are deeply grateful for your investment that has allowed Dr. Li to integrate this cutting-edge technology into his research. Your support is advancing the pursuit of new discoveries that have the power to change and improve young lives.

November 4, 2016

Cal's Angels funds Lurie Children's groundbreaking children's cancer research

Cal’s Angels partners with Lurie Children’s Hospital and Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine to create new treatments for children’s cancers and save more children’s lives.

December 15, 2016

Lurie's Update: December 2016

I would like to express my appreciation for the support and thoughtfulness Cal’s All-Star Angel Foundation has demonstrated in order to provide brighter futures for children and their families. Your investment is enabling us to obtain the necessary personnel and resources to pursue breakthrough research that will produce increasingly more individualized and effective treatments for our patients.

June 1, 2017

Lurie's Update: June 2017

Your support will accelerate our efforts in pediatric drug discovery, making it possible to bring new therapies from the laboratory to human clinical trials in a more efficient and cost-effective way.


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