UACC researcher awarded $250K for drug development

Daruka Mahadevan, MD, PhD
Daruka Mahadevan, MD, PhD

Daruka Mahadevan, MD, PhD, has been awarded $250,000 by The Hope Foundation, the philanthropic arm of SWOG, to continue laboratory development of targeted therapies for Aggressive B-cell non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (B-NHL).

Dr. Mahadevan is exploring the mechanisms of action-based targeted drug combinations for B-NHL patients who don’t respond to standard frontline chemo-immunotherapy treatments.

Since The University of Arizona Cancer Center received the prestigious Lymphoma Specialized Program of Research Excellence grant from the National Cancer Institute in 2008 to evaluate drugs targeting Aurora kinases (enzymes that help a dividing cell dispense its genetic materials to its daughter cells) in NHL, two clinical trials have opened based on translational research conducted in his laboratory to test the ability of various drug combinations to inhibit the proliferation of the genetic materials.

The SWOG grant will support two years of translational research for Aurora plus Bruton’s Tyrosine Kinase Targeted Therapies for Aggressive B-cell NHL, with the hope of opening a Phase I/II study.

“As demonstrated by our ongoing translational research, the opportunities for clinical research aimed at improving the cure rates of aggressive B-NHL have never been greater,” Dr. Mahadevan said. “We have moved from a paucity of interesting new agents to a plethora of exciting ones.”

SWOG – formerly the Southwest Oncology Group -- is one of the largest cancer clinical trials cooperative groups in the United States. Funded largely by research grants from the National Cancer Institute, SWOG conducts clinical trials to prevent and treat cancer in adults, and to improve the quality of life for cancer survivors.

NHL is a group of cancers of the white blood cells. According to the National Cancer Institute, an estimated 66,360 cases of NHL occurred in the US in 2011, and there were an estimated 19,320 deaths from the disease last year.

Dr. Mahadevan is a professor of medicine at the University of Arizona, and is director of the University of Arizona Cancer Center’s Phase I Clinical Trials Program and Drug Development and Translational Research and is a medical oncologist at the Cancer Center treating patients with pancreatic cancer, gastrointestinal stromal tumors, myelodysplastic syndromes and NHL, including chronic lympocytic leukemia.