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Researchers Find New Target For Leukemia Treatment

Posted by Chrissie Cole
Friday, September 19, 2008 1:19 PM EST
Category: Major Medical
Tags: FDA & Prescription Drugs, Cancer, Childhood Leukemia, Chemotherapy, GSK3, Mixed Lineage Leukemia


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IMAGE SOURCE: ©Wikimedia Commons /Leukemia cells/author: Ayacop

Researchers from Stanford University School of Medicine have found a new chemotherapy target that could pave the way to more effective treatments of a deadly form of leukemia that affects children.

The discovery involves a molecular “signal” that controls cell growth, which helps to prevent different cancers.

“The findings were quite surprising,” said Dr. Michael Cleary, a professor of pathology and pediatrics, lead author of the study.

Researchers found the molecular signal, known as GSK3 (Glycogen synthase kinase 3), fuels a white blood cell cancer which accounts for about five to ten percent of all adult and child leukemia cases.

MLL or “mixed lineage” leukemia is a dangerous form of the disease that that can develop in the bone marrow or lymph nodes. Studies on mice found that inhibiting GSK3 combats leukemia’s that are caused by mutated genes.

Stem cells located in the bone marrow transform and produce white blood cells. When the transformation from stem cell to white blood cell malfunctions, a cancer or leukemia of the blood forms.

There are several types of leukemia with most types attacking the white blood cells. White blood cells are the key to the body's immune system. Without proper white blood cell development the body becomes more vulnerable to infection.

Researchers are now working to determine how GSK3 enables cancers to grow, while searching for inhibitors that will be safe for use in people that have cancer.

More research is needed to build and test better anti-GSK3 compounds in pre-clinical models before they can be translated into human trials, Cleary said. #


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