Better Leukemia Treatment?
(Ivanhoe Newswire) – No cancer is good cancer, but cancers that often strike children are especially worrisome. Acute Lymphoid Leukemia, shortened to ALL, attacks the blood and immune system, and is primarily seen in people under the age of 19. The good news is a recent study has discovered a treatment that destroys the disease in animal models, and hopefully will be able to do the same for humans.
This new treatment involves inhibiting a protein called Gfi1. Although the protein is necessary for the normal development of lymphoid cells, Gfi1 is overexpressed in ALL patients and actually aids the cancer cells in avoiding the p53 protein which helps to stop or slow down the progression of tumors.
After removing Gfi1 from lymphoid tumors in mice, researchers found that the disease began to regress.
In order to confirm the same outcome would occur in the human form of ALL, researchers injected T-cell leukemia cells from humans into mice then inhibited Gfi1. The human leukemia was stopped from progressing in the mice as well.
Patients with ALL have a fairly high survival rate, 90.8% for children under the age of five and 66.4% for people of all ages, with the current treatments but improvements can still be made.
"Chemo and radiation therapies are very non-specific and can be toxic to patients,” study investigator H. Leighton Grimes, Ph.D., a researcher at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center was quoted as saying.
The hope for Gfi1 as a treatment for ALL is that it may reduce the necessity for high amounts of other more intense treatments.
“Our findings suggest that combining the inhibition of Gfi1 with these treatments may allow the use of lower cytotoxic doses and directly benefit patients," Grimes was quoted as saying.
Source: Cancer Cell, February 2013