Grants - Texas - Designated Grants - 2018

Courtney DiNardo, M.D., MSCE

Funded by Lloyd Family Clinical Scholar Fund

Unlike childhood leukemia that has a 90% cure rate, outcomes for adult patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) remain poor.  With modern chemotherapy regimens, complete remission rates are 60-70%, yet long term cure rates remain dismal at 15-25%.  Prognosis is even worse in older patients and/or those with high risk features, with remission rates of only ~35-50% and cure rates less than 10%.  Efforts to improve both the remission rate and the durability of remission are paramount.

Dr. DiNardo’s team focuses on mutations in the genes IDH1 and IDH2, which occur in ~20% of patients with AML and occur more frequently in older patients. In her clinical trials, she has tested targeted drugs that inhibit these two mutated proteins (IDH1 and IDH2) and can lead to dramatic clinical responses. These novel drugs can be taken by mouth, are well-tolerated and promise to improve the survival of patients whose leukemic cells bear these mutations.  The use of these drugs that can be taken by mouth, alone and in combination with other leukemia-directed therapies, will permit patients to be treated at home with less frequent trips to MD Anderson. She will carry out not just a single trial, but a program of multiple trials to have a major impact on the lives of patients whose cancers have IDH1 and ID2 mutations. Dr. DiNardo is also striving to make screening for multiple mutated genes the standard of care for patients with MDS and AML, which is not often performed in the community, in order to optimize treatment and accelerate best practices for older adult patients with AML.