CLL Global Research Foundation’s Impact

Carlo M. Croce, MD
John W. Wolfe Chair in Human Cancer Genetics
The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – The James

Dr. Carlo Croce discusses the history of CLL research, his connection to the CLL Global Research Foundation, and how the organization has impacted advancements in the field.


DrCarlo Croce:

My name is Carlo M. Croce. I am a professor at – in fact, I am a distinguished professor at OSU in Columbus, and I have work in cancer genetics for a long time.

And one of my interests, major interests, became the genetic study of CLL. So, I wanted to find out, what are the genetic mechanism that causes the disease? Because if we understand the genetic mechanism that causes the disease, we might be able to find good therapy for the treatment of CLL.

And CLL, I must say, has been the leading disease for major discovering cancer, because has allowed to define, very precise, the mechanism that causes the disease, and on the basis of the mechanism that causes the disease, now, there are drugs that are normally good in treating the disease.

And in fact, so, basically, we discovered the CLL, for the most part, is caused by the loss of two micro-RNA. And these two micro-RNA target a gene that I discovered over 40 years ago, BCL-2.

So, what happened in CLL is that the absence, or the loss of this micro-RNA that downregulate BCL-2 lead to the overexpression of the oncogene. And now, there is this sort of phenomenal drug called venetoclax, which is a specific inhibitor of BCL-2, and this drug is fantastic in the treatment of the disease.

But it’s fantastic not only in the treatment of CLL; it is also used, now, in the treatment of other neoplastic diseases such as AML, in some subset of multiple myeloma, and perhaps tomorrow, will be used for treatment of other malignant diseases.            

So, my connection with the foundation was from the very beginning, because the physician scientists that started this foundation are my old collaborators. And in fact, some of them are on my original paper on the loss of micro-RNA in CLL.

I say that the foundation has a huge impact, because it is funding the best laboratories that are working in CLL. So, it has contributed quite significantly to the progress, and we have to be thankful to the foundation for its contribution to the progress in CLL research.

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