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

Study suggests colon cancer cells carry bacteria with them when they metastasize

November 24, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—A team of researchers working at Harvard University has found evidence that suggests a certain type of bacteria found in colon cancer tumors makes its way to tumors in other body parts by traveling with ...

Promising new treatment for rare pregnancy cancer leads to remission in patients

November 24, 2017
An immunotherapy drug can be used to cure women of a rare type of cancer arising from pregnancy when existing treatments have failed.

Researchers unravel novel mechanism by which tumors grow resistant to radiotherapy

November 23, 2017
A Ludwig Cancer Research study has uncovered a key mechanism by which tumors develop resistance to radiation therapy and shown how such resistance might be overcome with drugs that are currently under development. The discovery ...

African Americans face highest risk for multiple myeloma yet underrepresented in research

November 23, 2017
Though African-American men are three times more likely to be diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer, most scientific research on the disease has been based on people of European descent, according to a study ...

Encouraging oxygen's assault on iron may offer new way to kill lung cancer cells

November 22, 2017
Blocking the action of a key protein frees oxygen to damage iron-dependent proteins in lung and breast cancer cells, slowing their growth and making them easier to kill. This is the implication of a study led by researchers ...

One-size treatment for blood cancer probably doesn't fit all, researchers say

November 22, 2017
Though African-American men are three times more likely to be diagnosed with a blood cancer called multiple myeloma, most scientific research on the disease has been based on people of European descent, according to a study ...

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.