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Please note that some translations using Google Translate may not be accurately represented and downloaded documents cannot be translated. Dana-Farber and the Jimmy Fund assume no liability for inaccuracies that may result from using this third-party tool, which is for website translation.

Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation targets childhood cancers

Alex's Lemonade Stand

Summer 2024
By Kathy Clute

In 2000, a four-year-old girl named Alexandra “Alex” Scott set up a lemonade stand to raise money for research into childhood cancers like hers. After she passed away in 2004, her parents established a foundation that has since raised more than $300 million for cancer research and funded more than 1,500 cutting-edge investigations.

Continuing its longstanding support of Dana-Farber, Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF) awarded three Institute faculty members $803,558 in grants in 2023. These will underwrite research aimed at defeating acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and rhabdomyosarcoma, an aggressive, hard-to-treat cancer of connective tissue.

The foundation extended its previous “A Award” funding to hematologic oncologist Andrew Lane, MD, PhD, who is studying the ways DNA is packed, or wound, inside blood cells. If each white blood cell’s DNA were stretched out, it would be six feet long. But in healthy cells, it is wound so tightly it will fit inside the head of a pin. One anomaly associated with AML is a protein that loosens DNA winding, and Lane’s laboratory is researching how DNA unpacking promotes leukemia and whether drugs that target DNA unpacking will kill the cancer cells.

“Projects like these will help unlock the secrets of childhood cancers.”

Liz Scott, Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation

Cancer biologist Jun Qi, PhD, received an Innovation Grant for his work to develop a new treatment for a particularly aggressive subtype of rhabdomyosarcoma, FP-RMS. Qi and his team are working on a targeted, precision medicine approach that would selectively eliminate a protein-coding gene that causes cancer cells to grow.

Susu Zhang, PhD, received a Young Investigator Award for her research into fusion-positive alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma, one of the most difficult-to-treat childhood cancers. She is investigating the role of an enzyme called CDK8 in driving this disease, and whether attacking CDK8 could be an effective treatment.

“Projects like these will help unlock the secrets of childhood cancers,” said Liz Scott, Alex’s mother and the co-executive director of ALSF. “We cannot wait to see the results.”

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