New potential treatment opportunities for leukemia patients

Professor Fabienne Mackay researches the effect of cancer on the immune system in her lab at Monash University.

(Medical Xpress)—The long-term survival of people suffering from chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) could be increased with the development of new therapeutic strategies.

Ground-breaking research by Monash University Professor Fabienne Mackay from the Department of Immunology and PhD student Damien Easton-Saulep has been released today in the prestigious journal Leukemia that uncovers never before reported aspects of CLL.

Becoming increasingly more prevalent, CLL is the most common leukemia in the developed world and has no cure.

Funded by the Association for International Cancer Research (AICR) and National Health and Medical Research Centre (NHMRC), Professor Mackay's research found that key cells called "", which are important for fighting infections and stimulating other in the destruction of tumor and , are actually eliminated in people with aggressive CLL.

Professor Mackay said CLL patients with a milder form of CLL appeared to have more of these rare cells, suggesting some protective effect.

"These unprecedented findings reveal that these rare but critical cells can be restored at the experiment level, resulting in re-activated immune functions including the destruction of ," Professor Mackay said.

"These results provide supporting evidence that a similar approach might have therapeutic benefits in patients with CLL. In healthy people, the immune system usually helps detect and destroy cancer cells or infected cells as soon as they arise.

"In some people, cancer cells are able to disable the immune system and as a result these people are more vulnerable to severe infections and no longer capable of controlling the emergence of cancer cells."

Professor Mackay said these people were typically more vulnerable to infections because the immune system was disabled.

"It is hoped that these discoveries will be an important turning point for the development of new therapeutic strategies that reactivate the , and enhance the long-term survival of CLL patients particularly vulnerable to fatal complications with infections."

More information: "Cytokine-driven loss of plasmacytoid dendritic cell function in chronic lymphocytic leukemia." D Saulep-Easton, F B Vincent, M Le Page, A Wei, S B Ting, C M Croce, C Tam and F Mackay. Leukemia (18 March 2014). DOI: 10.1038/leu.2014.105

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Study confirms target of potent chronic leukemia drug

Dec 19, 2013

A new study led by researchers at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James) helps confirm that a molecule targeted ...

Stem cells central to pathogenesis of mature lymphoid tumors

Aug 15, 2011

New research suggests that blood stem cells can be involved in the generation of leukemia, even when the leukemia is caused by the abnormal proliferation of mature cells. The study, published by Cell Press in the August 16th ...

Recommended for you

Blood biomarker may detect lung cancer

1 hour ago

A new study shows that patients with stage I to stage III non-small cell lung cancer have different metabolite profiles in their blood than those of patients who are at risk but do not have lung cancer. The study abstract ...

ACG: Recent increase in incidence of young-onset CRC

17 hours ago

(HealthDay)—The incidence of young-onset colorectal cancer (CRC) is increasing, and the disease is more aggressive pathologically. These findings are being presented at the annual meeting of the American ...

User comments