The Evangelische Johannesstift in Berlin is now supporting PD Dr. Jan-Henning Klusmann and his pioneering work on infant leukemias with 364,000 Euros from a legacy. The testator stipulated that part of their property must flow into leukemia research. Founded 158 years ago, the Evangelische Johannesstift itself operates youth care facilities in several German federal states, and in the last five years, nursing care facilities in the Hannover area as well. “The MHH is known to us for its outstanding work”, states Pastor Martin von Essen, Chief of the Presidency and Chairman of the Board of the Evangelische Johannesstift.
Leukemia is the most common type of cancer among children. Infants mostly develop a subtype called acute myeloid leukemia (AML), which PD Dr. Klusmann has studied since starting his doctorate at the age of 23. “There are certain genetic defects that only occur in infants, and not in older children”, he emphasizes. Further, AMLs are particularly aggressive in small children. In Germany, 40-50 infants are affected each year, and half of these children do not survive the disease. Infants are especially sensitive to standard chemotherapy. “It acts like a hammer on the entire body – the oral mucosa gets inflamed and hair falls out”, describes Professor Christian Kratz, director of the Department of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology. Targeted therapies that only attack cancer cells are thus the focus of the clinic’s research.