Kinder Foundation commits $1 million for mantle cell lymphoma research

The Kinder Foundation has committed $1 million to The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center to advance studies that develop more effective, durable treatments for mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) and ultimately improve MCL patient care and outcomes. The gift will support research led by Michael Wang, M.D., professor in 

 Lymphoma/Myeloma and director of MD Anderson’s MCL Program of Excellence.

MCL is a rare, aggressive B-cell subtype of non-Hodgkin lymphoma that accounts for 6 percent of cases, striking approximately 3,500 people each year. More than 90 percent of patients are diagnosed at late stages, when treatment is difficult and often ineffective. While MCL initially responds to frontline therapy, it frequently returns and eventually resists chemotherapy.
Rich and Nancy Kinder, of Houston, established the Kinder Foundation in 1997 to provide major philanthropic support for projects and programs that help people enjoy healthy and rewarding lives.

“MD Anderson is on the forefront of cancer research, and we believe the work of Dr. Wang will lead to more effective treatment, patient care and outcomes for MCL patients,” said Nancy Kinder, president of the Kinder Foundation and a senior member of the MD Anderson Cancer Center Board of Visitors.

Wang’s MCL research focuses on ibrutinib, an oral targeted therapy that blocks the growth of malignant B cells by inhibiting Bruton’s tyrosine kinase, an enzyme that promotes their progression. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently approved ibrutinib for treating MCL patients who have received at least one previous therapy. The drug has been effective in approximately 70 percent of patients, with minimal side effects.

The Kinder Foundation’s generosity will enable Wang and his team to:

  •  Perform more thorough preclinical studies to test existing clinical specimens and learn more about the biology of the cancer and its response to ibrutinib
  • Use this knowledge to perform additional preclinical studies of innovative therapeutic strategies, including various drug combinations
  • Design novel, more sophisticated clinical trials to test ibrutinib and other new cancer drugs as a first step toward tailored therapies for the disease

Additional research to predict ibrutinib’s therapeutic effects and potential resistance to the drug is crucial, said Wang.

“Some patients who initially responded well to ibrutinib in clinical trials have later shown resistance to it,” he said. “The foundation’s support will drive much-needed research to help us counter this resistance. We’re grateful for the Kinders’ generosity, and we value their partnership in our quest to make significant progress against MCL.”

MD Anderson’s MCL Program of Excellence, which played a significant role in bringing ibrutinib to the clinic, comprises a core group of basic scientists and translational researchers who collaborate with acclaimed clinical investigators in making significant progress against MCL. A major referral center for patients with MCL, MD Anderson treats more patients with this disease than any other cancer center in the United States.