Technique identifies chemotherapy-resistant cells within acute myeloid leukemia tumors

September 6, 2016

Although chemotherapy can sometimes cure acute myeloid leukemia and other hematologic cancers, many patients experience relapses when their tumors become resistant to available chemotherapies. This resistance may be caused by the survival and proliferation of chemotherapy-resistant cells that were already present in the tumor prior to treatment. Studying the characteristics of these cells could help researchers understand and develop better approaches to target chemotherapy-resistant cancers.

This month in the JCI, Anthony Letai and colleagues at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute developed an assay to determine how variability within a population of can predict responses to chemotherapy in acute myeloid leukemia patients.

The assay, which was performed on , measured each cell's sensitivity to mitochondrial apoptosis, a type of cell death that is induced by many existing chemotherapies.

They determined that the least sensitive cells in a tumor could predict how successfully a patient responded to chemotherapy. Developing the ability to identify chemotherapy-resistant tumors and tumor cells prior to treatment may lead to clinical insights that improve therapeutic outcomes in and other cancers.

Explore further: Study provides new clues to leukemia resurgence after chemotherapy

More information: Patrick D. Bhola et al, Functionally identifiable apoptosis-insensitive subpopulations determine chemoresistance in acute myeloid leukemia, Journal of Clinical Investigation (2016). DOI: 10.1172/JCI82908

Related Stories

Study provides new clues to leukemia resurgence after chemotherapy

June 2, 2016
For the first time, researchers have discovered that some leukemia cells harvest energy resources from normal cells during chemotherapy, helping the cancer cells not only to survive, but actually thrive, after treatment.

Immune cells help reverse chemotherapy resistance in ovarian cancer

May 20, 2016
Inside each ovarian tumor, there are good cells and bad cells. A new paper explains their roles:

Tumor microenvironment acts as a mechanism of resistance to chemotherapy

September 6, 2016
Researchers at Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL) have published a study in Oncotarget that highlights the importance of the tumor environment as a source of resistance to treatment in colorectal cancer, the ...

Identification of a novel tyrosine kinase inhibitor for acute myeloid leukemia

March 17, 2016
Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a cancer of myeloid stem cells that develops in both adult and pediatric populations. Mutations that cause hyperactivation of the FMS-like tyrosine kinase 3 (FLT3) are commonly found in AML, ...

As leukemia evolves, stem cells hold keys to newer therapies

August 30, 2016
A recent study by University of Rochester Medical Center researchers proves why leukemia is so difficult to treat and suggests that the current approach to drug development should be adjusted to target a broader range of ...

Innate immune landscape in glioblastoma patient tumors

February 25, 2016
Glioblastoma is an extremely aggressive brain tumor with limited treatment options. Recent progress in using immunotherapy-based treatment options in other tumor types has spurred interest in developing approaches that might ...

Recommended for you

What does hair loss have to teach us about cancer metastasis?

December 15, 2017
Understanding how cancer cells are able to metastasize—migrate from the primary tumor to distant sites in the body—and developing therapies to inhibit this process are the focus of many laboratories around the country. ...

Cancer immunotherapy may work better in patients with specific genes

December 15, 2017
Cancer cells arise when DNA is mutated, and these cells should be recognized as "foreign" by the immune system. However, cancer cells have found ways to evade detection by the immune system.

Scientists pinpoint gene to blame for poorer survival rate in early-onset breast cancer patients

December 15, 2017
A new study led by scientists at the University of Southampton has found that inherited variation in a particular gene may be to blame for the lower survival rate of patients diagnosed with early-onset breast cancer.

'Bet hedging' explains the efficacy of many combination cancer therapies

December 14, 2017
The efficacy of many FDA-approved cancer drug combinations is not due to synergistic interactions between drugs, but rather to a form of "bet hedging," according to a new study published by Harvard Medical School researchers ...

Scientists unlock structure of mTOR, a key cancer cell signaling protein

December 14, 2017
Researchers in the Sloan Kettering Institute have solved the structure of an important signaling molecule in cancer cells. They used a new technology called cryo-EM to visualize the structure in three dimensions. The detailed ...

Liquid biopsy results differed substantially between two providers

December 14, 2017
Two Johns Hopkins prostate cancer researchers found significant disparities when they submitted identical patient samples to two different commercial liquid biopsy providers. Liquid biopsy is a new and noninvasive alternative ...

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.