Melville, NY, resident Ellen Scharaga is committed to helping others. Beyond promoting improved medical patient outcomes through her role as an operational consultant for Alegria Specialty Pharmacy, she supports several charitable organizations. One of the many organizations Ellen Scharaga supports is the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS).
For more than 65 years, the LLS has been committed to educating the public, helping patients with blood cancer, and funding blood cancer research. The organization recently praised the United States Food and Drug Administration’s approval of blinatumomab as a treatment for individuals with a unique form of acute lymphoblastic leukemia. The therapy, which is a bispecific antibody T-cell engager, directs the body’s T cells to a specific protein found on the surface of B cells, including B-cell lymphomas and leukemias. Modified antibodies then engage a specific target on both the T cell and B cell, forcing the two cells to connect to one another and allowing the T cell to destroy the other cell.
Blinatumomab received the FDA’s Breakthrough Therapy designation in mid-2014 and was approved for patients with refractory B-cell precursor or Philadelphia chromosome-negative relapsed acute lymphoblastic leukemia in early December. The FDA will maintain its approval of the treatment once its clinical benefit is proven through additional research trials.
Ellen Scharaga of Melville, NY, oversees oncology pharmacy operations and services at OncoMed Pharmaceutical Services. Aside from her professional duties, Ellen Scharaga also supports cancer charities, including the American Cancer Society and The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS).
Recently, LLS’ Chief Scientific Officer, Dr. Lou DeGennaro, spoke to a U.S. Congressional committee about the importance of personalized medicine and related Food and Drug Administration (FDA) policy concerns. In total, a dozen participants joined the discussion on the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee’s 21st Century Cures initiative, which seeks to improve patient access to new therapies and remove obstacles to their development.
On behalf of oncologists and their patients, Dr. DeGennaro advocated for reform in the FDA approval process to allow innovative and novel treatments to move forward, even when they do not fit the conventional clinical trial path. One of the specific therapies the doctor supports is identifying the mutations that lead to acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and allowing researchers to develop new combinations of cancer therapies to treat and stop those mutations.
Ellen Scharaga of Melville, NY, a health care industry executive and Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) member, supports the mission of LLS to cure leukemia, lymphoma, and Hodgkin’s disease and to provide information and support to patients and their families. Ellen Scharaga shares LLS’ recent news on its Quest for Cures program.
Through Quest for Cures, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society directs funds toward three areas of blood cancer research it has deemed critical for progressive treatment of patients. LLS is requesting research proposals in the areas of tumor cell clonal heterogeneity, molecular stratification mechanisms, and bone marrow and lymph node microenvironments.
The Quest for Cures project is operating in conjunction with Celgene, as part of LLS’ Targets, Leads, and Candidates initiative to select and fund critical research fields with backing from partners in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries.