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If you have recently been diagnosed with CLL, you probably have questions. 


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In addition to finding great deals and shopping at your favorite stores via their website, you can also download this application so that a portion of your purchase will automatically go to CLL Global when you shop directly from any of the 2,800 retail partner sites.

Do your holiday shopping and give back. It's a win-win!

These researchers are involved in the two recently funded projects you read about in the article to the right. Click on their image to read each of their bios.

ROR1-CAR Project:

Dr. William Wierda
Dr. William Wierda
Dr. Laurence Cooper
Dr. Laurence Cooper

Dr. Thomas Kipps

NK Cell Project:

Dr. Katy Rezvani
(photo and bio courtesy of MD Anderson Cancer Center)

Dr. Elizabeth Shpall



You may have to scroll through each newsletter to find the article.

Articles are listed from most recent to oldest.

The Development of CLL


Immune Cells

Do you have questions about the immune system or CLL?
Email us and we will provide answers to your questions as the series continues.


There is a wealth of information in previous issues of both Tidbits and CLL Research Momentum.
Click here to view the newsletter archives page.


Is there something specific you want to read and learn about? 


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Instead of receiving another sweater this year, tell your friends and family that a gift to CLL Global Research Foundation would have a positive impact on your life.


They can visit our donate page or contact us via email. 


   Maybe you will end up getting that ugly sweater or the same gift twice during this season of giving...


eBay Giving Works This year turn unwanted gifts into funding for CLL Global. Sell unwanted presents on eBay and donate 10% to 100% of the final sale price to support our work.


Click here to learn more about the program.    


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December 2012



In a few weeks 2012 will be over and we will trek into another year of CLL research. Dr. Michael Keating has been reflecting and preparing as you will read below.

CLL Global is ensuring 2013 will be even more successful than 2012 by funding outstanding research. Two new projects have recently been awarded that will expand our knowledge and provide a new kind of therapy for CLL patients.

We could not fund such research without our supporters. One of our donors recently held a creative fundraiser. Learn how CLL affects the immune system in the CLL Education section. Details are below.
PRESIDENT'S CORNER: opinions & reports from Dr. Keating  

CLL Snowballs into 2013


Dr. Michael Keating
Dr. Michael Keating, president and CEO

Season's greetings and jolly wishes to all of you. The time of year has come where many people reflect on the past and make plans for improvement in the year ahead.  


CLL research had a pretty good 2012. Actually, I thought it was beyond pretty good. It was not about luck. It did not happen overnight, of course.  


I recently spent some time reflecting on the history of CLL Global. The goal has always been a cure, but in the initial years we built a strong foundation and we grew. 2012 was about breaking barriers by proving what we are doing is important and that we are on the right track.     


I want to share with you my perspective on the past so we can move forward together into 2013.      


Click here to continue reading.    





New Funding for Immunotherapy


Alliance Logo 
Click on the image to learn more about the Alliance.

CLL Global has recently awarded funding for two Alliance projects that focus on immune cells as a therapy to eliminate CLL cells. Dr. William Wierda, chair of the CLL program at MD Anderson Cancer Center, will be the principal investigator of the first project.  


The second project has been awarded to Drs. Elizabeth Shpall and Katy Rezvani. Dr. Shpall is the Deputy Director of the Stem Cell Transplant Department, Medical Director of the Cell Therapy Laboratory and Director of the Cord Blood Bank. Dr. Rezvani is the Stem Cell Department's Director of Translational Research and Associate Medical Director of the Cell Therapy Laboratory.


Dr. Wierda, in conjunction with Drs. Laurence Cooper at MD Anderson and Tom Kipps at University of California, San Diego, is applying chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) technology to T-cells, a type of immune cell. CARs are receptors that are delivered to and attach to the surface of immune cells. The CAR immune cells are programmed to look for specific targets like proteins found on CLL cells and to destroy the cell.


One target for the CAR is ROR1 which is a protein found almost exclusively on CLL cells. A large portion of the laboratory work has been completed. The recent award will support studies to identify the optimal CAR construct. Variations of CARs are being tested around the United States as researchers look for the most effective way to treat CLL patients.


Funding will support the phase I trial for the ROR1-CAR. Drs. Cooper, Kipps and Wierda are awaiting the go-ahead to begin this trial. The three investigators are presenting the study this week to a National Institutes of Health advisory committee to obtain recommendations on the proposed protocol.




Studies have shown that a patient's immune cells often initially recognize cancer cells, but this response is short-lived. Drs. Shpall and Rezvani were awarded a grant to conduct studies on Natural killer (NK) cells, a type of immune cell capable of recognizing and killing cancer cells. NK cells have not been studied as thoroughly as other cells in the immune system but hold great therapeutic potential.  

targeting cancer
An immune cell attacking a cancer cell.


Drs. Shpall and Rezvani are investigating the nature of NK cell responses to CLL cells. After gaining a clear understanding of NK cell function, they will determine if applying CAR technology to NK cells can make the cells more efficient in eliminating CLL cells. Their work will include using NK cells derived from cord blood units which are very effective at killing CLL cells and can provide an immediate available source of NK cells for therapy.


Both projects contain specific milestones to be achieved. Continued funding will depend on accomplishing the submitted milestones in a timely manner. The collaborators on these grants are leaders in the field of immunotherapy and have been members of the Alliance since its inception. The immunotherapy data generated over the last couple of years is very promising. CLL Global hopes this investment will yield a positive outcome for CLL patients. 



Immune System 101: The Effects of CLL


Last month's article in our immune system series covered the development of CLL and how it is diagnosed. Refresh your memory through the links in the left sidebar.  


Once a diagnosis of CLL is confirmed, doctors look at additional factors to determine its probable course. Doctors once thought that all CLL cases were the same. They now understand that CLL can take different directions. Prognostic markers shed some light on the probability of an individual patient's disease course.     


Current standard prognostic factors include Binet and Rai staging, lymphocyte doubling time, beta-2 microglobulin, thymidine kinase, FISH, IgVH mutation status, ZAP70 and CD38. Click here for detailed information on these factors.


CLL disturbs the immune system regardless of a patient's disease course. Some patients are affected more than others. B-cells are immune cells that develop into plasma cells which produce antibodies. As we have previously discussed, CLL cells are malignant B-cells which do not produce effective antibodies. (Immunoglobulin is the scientific term for antibody. You may come across this term in CLL Global articles or other sources.)


A normal B-cell goes through several stages of development before maturing into an antibody-producing plasma cell. Most CLL cells get caught in an intermediate stage of development. Additionally, CLL cells do not die as rapidly as normal B-cells. As a result, the CLL cells crowd out other cells in the lymph nodes and other organs. This is why some patients experience swollen lymph nodes; however, this is different from the swollen lymph nodes we experience when we are sick which eventually reduce to normal size.


Normal B-cells and plasma cells mass produce when needed to fight infection. Most of the fighting takes place in the lymph nodes. As the battle winds down, the cells die off. CLL cells also increase in number to fight infection. The CLL cells do not realize that they are malignant cells. Because they are stuck in an intermediate stage of B-cell development, they cannot produce antibodies and do not provide an effective immune defense. And because they resist programmed cell death, the lymph nodes remain enlarged.


Stages of B-cell development. Image provided by www.uth.tmc.edu.


In order to understand why CLL cells disrupt the immune system we must understand the role of antibodies which are a critical component of the immune defense. Antibodies are Y shaped proteins that have two main parts: the constant and the variable regions. The variable region differs in shape so that specific antibodies fit specific antigens, like a puzzle.  


Antibodies can be created on the spot by a B-cell when a new invader enters the body. Once an antibody has been created, there is always a stash floating freely throughout the body. This way the immune system can more effectively fight antigens, or foreign invaders, it has already encountered.


When an antigen and an antibody meet, the antibody docks to the antigen and sends a signal to the immune system. The signal does two things: 1) More of the same antibodies are produced by plasma cells which attach to the antigen(s), and 2) Immune cells called phagocytes respond to the signal and "eat" the antigen that has been tagged by antibodies.  


With less-than-normal levels of healthy B-cells, and subsequently antibodies, a CLL patient is more prone to infections. Next month's article on CLL and the immune system will include details about antibodies and IVIG (intravenous immunoglobulin) therapy which is given to patients as an antibody supplement. 



Arabian Night Fundraiser 


Image from the Arabian Night fundraiser. Provided by the Jaffe's.

Ed and Inge Jaffe are always up to something good. Dr. Jaffe climbed Mount Kilimanjaro (South Africa) in July 2011 to raise money for CLL Global. This year they hosted an "Arabian Night" themed fundraiser with proceeds benefiting CLL Global. The event was held in October and included good food, good friends and belly dancers for entertainment. Over $25,000 was raised from the fundraiser.  


A big thank you to the Jaffe's and their friends and family!


"Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there" - Will Rogers 

Enjoy this special time of year and what is left of 2012. Get ready for a momentous 2013 as we keep pushing CLL research forward. We cannot do it without you. Together, we are solving the CLL research puzzle. 


CLL Global Research Foundation