Researchers discover treatment for rare blood cancer

January 29, 2014

University of British Columbia researchers have discovered a potential new treatment for a rare blood cancer that may also point the way to treating other more common diseases.

Paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinemia (PNH) is a rare form of cancer characterized by episodic rupture of red cells and the danger of forming in the vascular system. The condition results in becoming vulnerable to attacks by the body's own complement immune system and can lead to complications such as anemia, kidney disease and fatal thromboses.

In a clinical study published today in PLOS ONE, the UBC team, led by Prof. Patrick McGeer, applied aurin tricarboxylic acid (ATA), a non-toxic drug, to blood samples of five patients with PNH who were undergoing standard with antibodies administered through biweekly infusions.

The researchers found the addition of ATA restored blood cell resistance to complement system attacks, while the antibodies alone did not offer full protection.

"Our study suggests that ATA could offer more complete protection as an oral treatment for PNH while eliminating the need for infusions," says Prof. McGeer, professor emeritus in UBC's Department of Psychiatry. "PNH is a disease that may happen to anyone through a chance mutation, and if nature were to design a perfect fix for this mutation, it would be ATA."

McGeer adds that since many diseases are caused or worsened by an overactive complement immune system, the discovery of ATA's effectiveness in this rare disease could have wide-reaching implications for conditions such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson disease, macular degeneration, ALS, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.

The team is now proceeding with further testing and McGeer hopes the treatment may be available in clinics within a year.

Explore further: Researchers pursuing arthritis protein

Related Stories

Researchers pursuing arthritis protein

January 10, 2014
Researchers at the University of Copenhagen have investigated a special protein that appears in inflammatory diseases such as arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and psoriasis. The findings have just been published in the ...

Cancer drug a possible treatment for multiple sclerosis

February 21, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—A drug that is currently used for cancer can relieve and slow down the progression of the autoimmune disease multiple sclerosis (MS) in rats, according to a new study published in PLOS ONE. The discovery, ...

Certain mutations affect kidney disease risk and prognosis

February 21, 2013
Certain gene mutations affect individuals' risk of developing a serious kidney condition, as well as their prognosis after being diagnosed with the disease, according to a study appearing in an upcoming issue of the Journal ...

New discovery on early immune system development

November 12, 2013
Researchers at Lund University have shed light on how and when the immune system is formed, raising hope of better understanding various diseases in children, such as leukaemia.

Researcher finds way to convert blood cells into autoimmune disease treatment

July 18, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—Cells from one's own blood could be converted into a treatment for autoimmune diseases, like rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn's disease, based on the discovery of a Purdue University researcher.

Recommended for you

Researchers release first draft of a genome-wide cancer 'dependency map'

July 27, 2017
In one of the largest efforts to build a comprehensive catalog of genetic vulnerabilities in cancer, researchers from the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute have identified more than 760 genes ...

Cancer-death button gets jammed by gut bacterium

July 27, 2017
Researchers at Michigan Medicine and in China showed that a type of bacterium is associated with the recurrence of colorectal cancer and poor outcomes. They found that Fusobacterium nucleatum in the gut can stop chemotherapy ...

Long-sought mechanism of metastasis is discovered in pancreatic cancer

July 27, 2017
Cells, just like people, have memories. They retain molecular markers that at the beginning of their existence helped guide their development. Cells that become cancerous may be making use of these early memories to power ...

Blocking the back-door that cancer cells use to escape death by radiotherapy

July 27, 2017
A natural healing mechanism of the body may be reducing the efficiency of radiotherapy in breast cancer patients, according to a new study.

Manmade peptides reduce breast cancer's spread

July 27, 2017
Manmade peptides that directly disrupt the inner workings of a gene known to support cancer's spread significantly reduce metastasis in a mouse model of breast cancer, scientists say.

Glowing tumor technology helps surgeons remove hidden cancer cells

July 27, 2017
Surgeons were able to identify and remove a greater number of cancerous nodules from lung cancer patients when combining intraoperative molecular imaging (IMI) - through the use of a contrast agent that makes tumor cells ...

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.