St. Jude Children's Research Hospital today announced the availability of one of the world's largest collections of leukemia samples from children and adults. The effort, called PROPEL (Public Resource of Patient-derived and Expanded Leukemias), aims to advance fundamental research on the biology of leukemia and to help develop cures by sharing unique patient-derived xenograft samples with researchers around the world.

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital is leading the way the world understands, treats and cures childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases. It is the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center devoted solely to children. 

Treatments developed at St. Jude has helped push the overall childhood cancer survival rate from 20% to 80% since the hospital opened more than 50 years ago. St. Jude freely shares the breakthroughs it makes, and every child saved at St. Jude means doctors and scientists worldwide can use that knowledge to save thousands of more children. 

Families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing and food because all a family should worry about is helping their child live. The initiative is the latest effort by St. Jude to advance cures by sharing large data samples with the global scientific community.

Acute lymphoblastic leukemia

Leukemias are a leading cause of cancer-related deaths in children and adults. Despite a 90% overall cure rate for acute lymphoblastic leukemia in pediatric patients, cure rates are lower for patients with acute myeloid leukemia and other forms of the disease. Survival rates for adults with acute leukemias are worse. Treatment often leaves survivors with the lingering, treatment-related health problems.

"Despite therapeutic advances and improved outcomes, we must make progress to cure leukemia and minimize the side effects of treatment for survivors," said Charles Mullighan, M.D., a member of the St. Jude Department of Pathology and primary investigator for creating PROPEL.

"By making xenograft data available to the research community on PROPEL, we hope to accelerate discovery and cures for leukemia and improve long-term outcomes for survivors," SAID Mullighan.

The PROPEL data portal provides access to 219 samples of human leukemias. With the consent of patients and parents, these cancers were grown in mice and are known as patient-derived xenografts. Researchers can submit a request to access the samples and associated genetic data for xenografts and primary tumors.

The xenografts were derived from patients with diverse subtypes of B- and T-lineage acute lymphoblastic leukemia, acute erythroid leukemia, and mixed-phenotype acute leukemia. The PROPEL inventory will grow as additional leukemia subtypes and cases of acute leukemia, including acute myeloid leukemia, become available. The data is unique because it provides a side-by-side characterization of the xenografts and the corresponding patient samples.