Leukemia Research Foundation News

Researchers’ Discovery Destroys Acute Myeloid Leukemia Cells in the Lab

A team of researchers from Cincinnati’s Children and the University of Cincinnati have discovered a protein that seems crucial to acute myeloid leukemia (AML) cell survival. Blocking this protein in a lab setting kills AML cells without killing healthy blood cells.

According to the study recently published in Science Translational Medicine, “Finding efficacious and durable treatments is urgently needed for patients with AML because current treatments typically have only short-term benefits or none at all.”

This discovery builds upon years of work conducted by a large cohort of scientists researching how certain proteins affect cancer growth. In this case, the researchers found that a particular protein – UBE2N – is crucial to several immune pathways that AML uses to survive. Blocking the protein could make it much harder for the cancer cells to expand and survive treatment.

According to the study, “Not only does the new compound appear to be worth exploring to treat AML, but similar dependencies on UBE2N are observed in many other conditions.” These other conditions include breast, ovarian, and colon cancers and some chronic inflammatory disorders.

Cincinnati Children’s has filed patent applications for the new compound. Their next steps are to further refine the compound for drug development and then test on patients in clinical trials.

This research study was co-authored by 33 scientists, including Rhett Kovall, PhD, from the University of Cincinnati. The Leukemia Research Foundation funded Dr. Kovall’s related research on targeted therapies for myelogenous leukemias in 2007.

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