New research provides hope for childhood cancer sufferers

July 16, 2007

Scientists investigating drug therapies for children with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL) have presented new data demonstrating for the very first time that a small molecule called ABT-737 can increase the effectiveness of standard therapies.

Dr Richard Lock, Head of the Leukaemia Biology Program at the Children’s Cancer Institute Australia for Medical Research, Sydney, along with collaborators from the Childrens Hospital Los Angeles and University of Southern California, USA, recently published their findings in the prestigious scientific journal Blood.

ALL is the most common form of childhood cancer. Over the years, improvements in primary therapy have increased the cure rate to approximately 80 percent. However, for the 20 percent of patients who relapse, the majority will die.

“When used in combination with common drugs administered in ALL therapy, ABT-737 has the ability to enhance the combined toxicity of these drugs against the leukaemia cells with minimal effects on the normal cells of the body,” said Dr Lock.

Resistance to common therapeutic drugs is associated with poor long-term outcomes in leukaemia patients. In the study, the effects of ABT-737 in combination with three common chemotherapeutic agents: L-Asparaginase, vincristine and dexamethasone, were tested on a number of ALL cell lines under conditions which were considered clinically relevant for the disease.

ABT-737, developed by Abbott Laboratories, acts by inhibiting the Bcl-2 family of proteins. These proteins are expressed in ALL and inhibit the mechanisms responsible for destroying leukaemia cells. High levels of expression of Bcl-2 is linked with chemoresistance in a variety of cancers.

“There is a critical need for new drugs with novel mechanisms of action that might improve the outcome for relapsed ALL patients,” said Dr Lock.

Source: Research Australia

Explore further: The life-saving treatment that's being thrown in the trash

Related Stories

The life-saving treatment that's being thrown in the trash

March 28, 2017

A few hours before beginning chemotherapy, a man named Chris faces his cellphone camera with a mischievous smile and describes a perfectly absurd milestone at 1.37pm on a Wednesday. "There is no more beautiful moment in a ...

Potential new drug for childhood leukaemia

September 24, 2014

Nearly 40% of children with leukaemia whose disease returns after treatment could benefit from a drug designed to treat colon, skin and lung cancer.

Recommended for you

Ancient stress response provides clues to cancer resistance

April 25, 2017

Cancer is often able to craftily outwit the best techniques modern medicine has developed to treat it. In an attempt to understand and combat cancer's vaunted prowess, an unusual collaboration between physicists and a leading ...

Studying a catalyst for blood cancers

April 25, 2017

Imagine this scenario on a highway: A driver starts to make a sudden lane change but realizes his mistake and quickly veers back, too late. Other motorists have already reacted and, in some cases, collide. Meanwhile, the ...

Savior of T-cells may be enemy of liver immune cells

April 24, 2017

Researchers at Houston Methodist demonstrated that a surface protein called OX40, responsible for keeping one type of immune system cell alive, can trigger the death of liver immune cells, in turn starting a chain reaction ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.