MF Challenge Research Initiative


The Myeloproliferative Neoplasms represent a group of blood cancers affecting over 150,000 patients in the United States. These disorders are characterized by closely related bone marrow dysfunctions which at best can cause life shortening complications and at worst can be life threatening.

Of the three MPN’s, Polycythemia Vera, Essential Thrombocythemia, and Myelofibrosis, it is the latter, Myelofibrosis, that is the most acutely life threatening. In addition, PV and ET are frequently known to progress to Myelofibrosis, representing a major fear in the lives of those patients. Unfortunately little is known about the cause of fibrosis in the bone marrow, and there are no treatments that directly address fibrosis.


The MPN Research Foundation has been soliciting research proposals for over a decade, and has funded over $8 million in 32 multi-year research projects. Although much progress is happening in the general field of MPN’s, and the first new drug specifically developed for MPNs recently received FDA approval, Proposals aimed specifically at the underlying causes of fibrosis have been scarce.

The MPN Research Foundation (MPNRF) and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) are proud to announce The MF Challenge, a new grant program whose objective is to change the trajectory and ultimate diagnosis for patients with Myelofibrosis (MF), a rare and often fatal blood cancer. This program represents a new and important partnership between MPNRF and LLS, who share a mission to advance the scientific understanding of MF and the other Myeloproliferative Neoplasms (MPNs) and bring new treatments and the hope for a cure to patients with these rare diseases.

Myelofibrosis (MF) is characterized by an enlarged spleen, varying degrees of anemia and low platelet counts, red cells in the peripheral blood that resemble tear drops, the appearance of small numbers of immature nucleated red cells and white cells in the blood, varying degrees of fibrosis of the marrow cavity (myelofibrosis) and the presence of marrow cells outside the marrow cavity. In some patients MF terminates in conversion to acute leukemia (particularly AML).

The Underlying Cause of Fibrosis Remains a Critical Concern

Myelosuppression resulting from fibrosis in the bone marrow remains one of the most critical consequences of myelofibrosis. Although considerable research continues to be done on the pathogenesis and treatment of MF, scientists have not been able to identify the specific mechanisms that induce fibrosis.

Recent studies indicate that stromal cells contribute to the abnormal hematopoietic clone development through specific and mutually dependent interactions with the pathologic hematopoietic cells. Fundamental questions about the cause of MF now need to be answered in order to develop rational and targeted therapies for this disease.


The goal of The MF Challenge is to discover the factor(s) that induce(s) fibrosis in bone marrow, and to identify opportunities to arrest and reverse this fibrosis. We believe that such a campaign will be a game-changing opportunity for MF science and a life-changing opportunity for MF patients.

MPNRF and LLS also believe that the best way to encourage innovative research on MF and fibrosis is to encourage new ideas and potentially new researchers. We therefore propose to solicit proposals for entry-level concept awards designed to allow initial exploration of untested but potentially transformative research ideas and approaches.

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Myelofibrosis (MF)

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