Study opens new path to fighting leukaemia relapse

Researchers in Japan have identified 25 different spots on leukaemia cells, each of which could be used to design a new drug to fight the disease.

Study opens new path to fighting leukaemia relapse

Researchers in Japan have identified 25 different spots on leukaemia cells, each of which could be used to design a new drug to fight the disease.

In a study published in Science Translational Medicine, the scientists said they found 25 different stretches of DNA that were especially active in the leukaemia cells. Each one has the potential to become a target for a new drug.

"If we develop drugs against these molecules, we have a pretty good possibility of eliminating leukaemia stem cells that cannot be killed by conventional anti-cancer drugs," lead researcher Fumihiko Ishikawa at the RIKEN Research Center for Allergy & Immunology in Yokohama, Japan, said by telephone.

Ishikawa and colleagues compared leukaemia stem cells of 61 patients with blood stem cells of normal healthy adults. Leukaemia stem cells are the cancer cells that give birth to new tumour cells and help the cancer spread through the body.

"Various anti-cancer drugs help many leukaemia patients enter remission. But the most serious problem in AML (acute myeloid leukaemia) is that many undergo relapse and eventually die," Ishikawa said.

"Now we have identified leukaemia stem cells that are responsible for relapse ... The very important thing for us is how to overcome relapse in AML patients."

AML is a disease where there is rapid growth of abnormal white blood cells, which cannot fight infections. Patients are not only susceptible to infections, they also lose red blood cells, which carry oxygen though the body, so they become tired, short of breath and eventually die.

there are dozens of types of leukaemia and doctors are finding there may also be many more different sub-types, each of which may need its own tailored treatment. Even targeted drugs eventually stop working because the tumour mutates even more.

Although most young and about half of elderly AML patients are cured, overall survival remains low because of relapse. Only about 20 percent of AML patients survive 5 years after being first diagnosed, according to the paper.


Reuters

Last Mod: 04 Şubat 2010, 14:53
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