Closer to outsmarting leukaemia

 

Steven Lane_low res

 

Dr Steven Lane at the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute in Brisbane is one of the co-authors of a research paper published in this week’s edition of the prestigious journal, Nature.

The research was led by Associate Professor Mark Dawson, a Leukaemia Foundation Senior Research Fellow. Here Dr Lane shares with us the importance of the findings in relation to one of the most aggressive forms of leukaemia.

“In what is a significant step forward in leukaemia research, Dr Dawson’s group from the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne has shown that a rare population of leukaemia cells, known as leukaemia stem cells, can become resistant to new targeted treatments for leukaemia,” Dr Lane said.

“Building on his previous work that has led to world first clinical trials of BET-inhibitors in acute myeloid leukaemia (AML), Dr Dawson has now identified an important way that AML can evolve to evade BET inhibitors, by turning on a pathway called Wnt-beta catenin and making more leukaemia stem cells.”

“Importantly, this work might lead towards new curative strategies by blocking these pathways in combination treatments, providing a new hope in this devastating disease”

As part of the research, the team has also been able to grow and maintain leukaemia stem cells in a laboratory dish, making it easier and faster to test new treatments that have the potential to eradicate the disease.

A number of researchers involved with the research project have received funding from the Leukaemia Foundation.

Head of Research & Advocacy at the Leukaemia Foundation, Dr Anna Williamson, said: “This advance in our understanding of leukaemia stem cells is opening the doors to new treatment approaches.”

“AML is a leukaemia that has long needed a major breakthrough to improve the future for patients.”

The research article can be viewed here.

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