Therapy targets leukemia stem cells

February 13, 2012

New research takes aim at stubborn cancer stem cells that are thought to be responsible for treatment resistance and relapse. The study, published by Cell Press in the February 14 issue of the journal Cancer Cell, provides insight into mechanisms associated with the survival of leukemia stem cells and identifies a potential therapeutic target that is specific for these dangerously persistent cells.

Chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) is a cancer of the for which are currently the first line of therapy. These drugs prolong survival, but is often seen after drug treatment is stopped. "Tyrosine kinase inhibitors do not eliminate leukemia stem cells, which remain a potential source of ," explains senior coauthor Dr. Ravi Bhatia from the City of Hope National Medical Center in Duarte, California. "CML patients need to take tyrosine kinase inhibitor treatment indefinitely, which carries a significant risk of toxicity, lack of compliance, drug resistance, relapse, and associated expense."

Strategies targeting leukemia stem cells are necessary to achieve a cure. Previous work has implicated the enzyme sirtuin 1 (SIRT1) in protecting stem cells from stress and in playing a role in leukemia, as well as other types of cancer. In the current study, Dr. Bhatia, coauthor Dr. WenYong Chen, first author Ling Li, and their colleagues investigated whether SIRT1 was involved in the survival and growth of CML stem cells. The researchers discovered that SIRT1 was overexpressed in CML stem cells and that inhibition of SIRT1selectively reduced the survival and growth of CML stem cells. Importantly, SIRT1 inhibition was associated with activation of the .

Taken together, the results reveal a specific mechanism that supports the survival of leukemia stem cells. "Our findings are important because they show that SIRT1-mediated inactivation of p53 contributes to CML leukemia stem cell survival and resistance to treatment with tyrosine kinase inhibitors," concludes Dr. Chen. "We suggest that SIRT1 inhibition is an attractive approach to selectively target leukemia stem cells that resist elimination by current treatments."

Explore further: Fish oil may hold key to leukemia cure

Related Stories

Fish oil may hold key to leukemia cure

December 22, 2011
A compound produced from fish oil that appears to target leukemia stem cells could lead to a cure for the disease, according to Penn State researchers. The compound -- delta-12-protaglandin J3, or D12-PGJ3 -- targeted and ...

Recommended for you

Outdoor light at night linked with increased breast cancer risk in women

August 17, 2017
Women who live in areas with higher levels of outdoor light at night may be at higher risk for breast cancer than those living in areas with lower levels, according to a large long-term study from Harvard T.H. Chan School ...

Scientists develop novel immunotherapy technology for prostate cancer

August 17, 2017
A study led by scientists at The Wistar Institute describes a novel immunotherapeutic strategy for the treatment of cancer based on the use of synthetic DNA to directly encode protective antibodies against a cancer specific ...

Scientists develop blood test that spots tumor-derived DNA in people with early-stage cancers

August 16, 2017
In a bid to detect cancers early and in a noninvasive way, scientists at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center report they have developed a test that spots tiny amounts of cancer-specific DNA in blood and have used it to ...

Toxic formaldehyde is produced inside our own cells, scientists discover

August 16, 2017
New research has revealed that some of the toxin formaldehyde in our bodies does not come from our environment - it is a by-product of an essential reaction inside our own cells. This could provide new targets for developing ...

Cell cycle-blocking drugs can shrink tumors by enlisting immune system in attack on cancer

August 16, 2017
In the brief time that drugs known as CDK4/6 inhibitors have been approved for the treatment of metastatic breast cancer, doctors have made a startling observation: in certain patients, the drugs—designed to halt cancer ...

Researchers find 'switch' that turns on immune cells' tumor-killing ability

August 16, 2017
Molecular biologists led by Leonid Pobezinsky and his wife and research collaborator Elena Pobezinskaya at the University of Massachusetts Amherst have published results that for the first time show how a microRNA molecule ...

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.