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Grant to boost U and Mayo Clinic MDS research

University of Minnesota and Mayo Clinic researchers received a $1.35 million grant from the Minnesota Partnership for Biotechnology and Medical Genomics to combat myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), a cancer that disrupts the way bone marrow develops blood cells. Every year more than 10,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with MDS, and one-third of them go on to develop leukemia.

The grant will connect promising research at both institutions and foster pilot studies aimed at finding new genetic predictors for MDS as well as new treatments and therapies. The condition can be inherited genetically or result from an event or illness. For unknown reasons, Minnesota’s MDS rates are among the nation’s highest.

The grant will fund projects designed to:

  • Identify genes that are important in both MDS development and progression into leukemia.

  • Test new drugs that contain MDS antibodies to see whether those drugs reduce the number of MDS cells.

  • Develop a new clinical trial that tests the feasibility of enhancing patients’ own immune systems by giving them natural killer cells from healthy people to reduce the number of MDS cells.

Both the University of Minnesota and the Mayo Clinic are designated as Myelodysplastic Syndrome Centers of Excellence by the Myelodysplastic Syndromes Foundation.

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