WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., Feb. 19, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- In 1964, the five-year survival rate for the most common form of childhood leukemia was only three percent but, today, thanks to treatment advances, about 90 percent of children survive. As the leading global non-profit organization dedicated to curing blood cancers, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) has invested nearly one billion dollars in blood cancer research since 1954, bringing us closer than ever to realizing a world without blood cancers.
LLS has achieved its leadership position through a unique approach to research and fundraising. Its venture philanthropy model forges partnerships with pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, academia, medical centers and the National Institutes of Health, to foster the process of drug discovery from basic research to translational and clinical research. Rather than duplicate what the federal government is funding, LLS developed its own research agenda to accelerate the development of promising new life-saving therapies with a focus on un-met medical need.
"We're not your grandfather's charity," proclaims Louis DeGennaro, PhD, LLS chief mission officer. "There is no means of preventing or early screening for blood cancers, so our focus is on life-saving research to find cures. LLS research funding has touched the discovery or development of nearly every therapy used in the battle against blood cancers – including targeted drugs, like Gleevec®, Velcade® and Kyprolis™, and immunotherapies, like Rituxan®."
In fact, LLS is playing a unique role in the pathway to cures, especially for a non-profit organization. Blood cancers, which include leukemia, lymphoma, myeloma and myelodysplastic syndromes, are hematologic malignancies with a unique link to the cancer research community. Many innovations such as multi-drug chemotherapy and stem cell transplantation started as blood cancer therapies. In fact, nearly 50 percent of all cancer drugs newly approved by the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) in the last 12 years were first approved for blood cancers. "Blood cancer research is a gateway to treatments and even cures for many other cancers, as well as some inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA)," explains DeGennaro. "LLS and our partners are pioneering cutting-edge cancer research at the cellular and molecular level, which has the capacity to offer significant contributions beyond even blood cancers."
"Someday is Today"
"We felt it was time to put a stake in the ground, and to shine the spotlight on the urgency and accomplishments we have made toward finding cures for blood cancers. 'Someday is Today' is our platform to rally support for this cause," explains John Walter, LLS chief executive officer. "People talk about curing cancer at some point in the future. But, for LLS, someday is today. Contributions made to this organization – through partners, volunteers and generous donors – are driving cures right now. The reality is, if you want to reduce the incidence of lung cancer, stop smoking. If you want to reduce the incidence of melanoma, use sun block. If you want to prevent the incidence of blood cancer, invest in a cure."
The "Someday is Today" initiative will launch this month nationwide, with emphasis in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington DC, and Dallas. The platform was developed by LLS in conjunction with branding agency Interplanetary, and is being supported by TV and radio PSAs and print advertising. According to Lisa Stockmon, senior vice president, marketing at LLS, "Our objective is to build brand awareness so people have more knowledge of what we do and the impact of what we do. We're telling our story in a humanistic and modern way that engages our 62 chapters and also provides a marketing umbrella for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, because we want to make sure people have an emotional connection and are aware of our role in the battle against blood cancers."
LLS Fundraising Campaigns: Something for Everyone
LLS fundraising campaigns reflect its broad approach to attracting individual and corporate donors, with a range of entry points and opportunities for participation. From the inception in 1988 of Team In Training®, the world's first and largest endurance training program, to the inspirational, community-oriented Light The Night® Walk events, to the family-friendly Pineapple Classic obstacle course, LLS has an extraordinary range of programs dedicated to raise awareness, participation and, most important, funds to develop and provide access to blood cancer treatments. All 62 LLS chapters in the United States and Canada are dedicated to this mission.
Innovating with Venture Philanthropy: Therapy Acceleration Program™ (TAP)
LLS launched the Therapy Acceleration Program (TAP) in 2007, to advance development of new therapies and diagnostics by bridging the gap between discovery and human applications, and to increase the likelihood that novel, even breakthrough treatments will be available to patients as soon as possible. LLS works in concert with academic investigators, medical centers and pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies to move promising therapies quickly from the laboratory into clinical trials and, ultimately, to patients.
LLS continues to support and fund the world's best and brightest academic scientists and award grants based on merit to advance progress in all areas of blood cancer research, and at all stages from basic science to clinical trials. Through our grants programs we support the development of the next generation of first rate cancer researchers.
Proof of LLS's cure-focused, patient-centered infrastructure is apparent from the allocation of its funds. Last year, 78 percent of the money spent by LLS went to research, patient and community services, advocacy and education. Its co-pay assistance program provided $44.2 million to almost 14,000 patients in need. LLS's Office of Public Policy team advocates for policies that help speed the approval process for new blood cancer therapies and ensure access to quality, affordable and coordinated care for patients.
"Ultimately, cancer affects everyone," said Walter. "We all have an opportunity to impact a cure for this disease now. Someday truly is today."
About The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society® (LLS) is the world's largest voluntary health agency dedicated to blood cancer. The LLS mission: Cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. LLS funds lifesaving blood cancer research around the world and provides free information and support services.
Key LLS fundraising campaigns include Team In Training, Light The Night, School & Youth, Man & Woman of the Year and Regatta. To reach the widest possible audience, LLS partners with national and regional level companies and brands, including Nike, Disney, Burlington Coat Factory and others.
Founded in 1949 and headquartered in White Plains, NY, LLS has chapters throughout the United States and Canada. To learn more, visit www.lls.org. Patients and caregivers should contact the Information Resource Center at (800) 955-4572, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET. www.lls.org.
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
SOURCE The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society