Prof. Jürg Schwaller receives Swiss Bridge-Award
Prof. Jürg Schwaller from the group Childhood Leukemia received the Swiss Bridge-Award for his work: Modeling for targeting of mixed-lineage acute leukemia. The price is endowed with CHF 175'000.--.
Infant acute leukemia is a rare but severe disease that affects about 5 of 100,000 newborns per year. In almost 80 % of the cases, the leukemic cells harbor chromosomal translocations affecting the mixed lineage leukemia (MLL) gene. Such alterations are also found in pediatric and adult acute leukemia and are often associated with a poor prognosis. These chromosomal translocations lead to the expression of chimeric proteins fusing the amino-terminal portion of MLL to the carboxy-terminus of the partner. Two third of the cases are covered by translocations t(9;11), t(11;19) or t(4;11) leading to MLL-AF9, MLL-ENL and MLL-AF4. Experimental studies have shown that MLL fusions act as potent oncogenes. Gene expression profiling revealed deregulation of closely overlapping downstream targets in human and murine MLL leukemia defining the mouse as an ideal model to study the biology of the disease and to search for novel therapeutic strategies.