CLL Global provided a “seeding grant” for the establishment of a CLL Australian Research Consortium (CLLARC). CLLARC was formed to develop and conduct CLL clinical trials in Australia and to foster research and scientific collaboration and support for CLL projects in Australia. Through facilitation of communication and collaboration between study groups, physicians, patients, government bodies, pharmaceutical manufacturers and the public, the CLLARC aims to ensure coordinated and effective support is recruited to achieve the best possible outcomes of CLL patients through research, clinical care, and education. With the streamlining of research projects and funding opportunities, patients will be provided with tangible benefits in a time frame relevant to their disease.
Current and planned projects of the organization include clinical trials, research and scientific studies, laboratory standardization in CLL and the establishment of the CLL Australian Research Foundation (a non-profit organization founded on the creation of a sustainable base for ongoing CLL research in Australia). Dr. Mulligan is the Principle Investigator of the project. CLLARC is maintained by an executive Steering Committee consisting of Drs Stephen Mulligan (Chairman, Sydney), John Seymour (Melbourne), Ken Bradstock (Sydney), Devinder Gill (Brisbane) and Bryone Kuss (Adelaide).
CLL Global’s support has had a ripple effect. All of our grants are intended to accelerate research efforts. After we provided seed funding, the Australian group received a gift of $1 million (AUD) from Mr. Jim Selim to support the Australian initiatives.
A CLL Israeli Research Consortium (CLLIRC) has recently been established with funds provided by CLL Global. The organization will provide a national resource for CLL researchers in Israel that will include a national CLL database and familial CLL database of collected patient samples through which the present and future research proposals and can be undertaken.
Accelerating CLL Research in Israel provides a unique opportunity to study the genetics of CLL. Israeli populations maintain close communities, thus preserving their ancestry and gene pools. Due to this unique environment, it is ideal for studying the effect of ancestry on the clinical, biological and genetic characteristics of CLL. The CLLIRC plans to research and elucidate the genetic basis of CLL in specific ethnic groups in Israel which could potentially lead to a better understanding of the etiology/biology of CLL.
Dr. Rosa Ruchlemer, Shaare Zedek Medical Center, Jerusalem, affiliated with the Hebrew University, is the Principle Investigator of this project. Collaborating institutions include the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, Sourasky Tel Aviv Medical Center, Beilinson Medical Center in Petach Tikvah and other centers in Beersheba, Afula, and Nahariya in the north of Israel as well as the Weizman Institute in Rehovot, Israel, the Institute of Pathology, University of Wuerzberg in Germany (Dr. Andreas Rosenwald), Experimental Therapeutics & Cancer Genetics at MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, USA (Dr. George Calin), among others.
Specifically, Drs. Rosa Ruchlemer, Ephrat Levy-Lahad, Andreas Rosenwald, George Calin and Aaron Polliack are working on identifying genes for inherited susceptibility to CLL by whole genome association studies. Dr. Rosenwald is also helping establish the Israel National CLL database and setting up laboratory and workforce for IgVH gene mutation status. Dr. George Calin’s research contribution will concentrate on the molecular characterization of CLL, focusing on miRNA’s. Identifying predisposition genes could assist in defining patients at high risk for developing CLL and direct future research towards targeted therapy for this disease.