Blocking a molecule that rids cells of potentially toxic molecules might make chemotherapy for leukemia more effective, but it could also leave healthy stem cells more vulnerable to toxic cancer treatment drugs
Inactivating a protective molecule in leukemic cells to make them more vulnerable to chemotherapy might also make healthy blood-forming cells more sensitive to the toxic effects of those same drugs. These findings have been published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry by investigators at St. Jude Childrens Research Hospital.
The St. Jude researchers based their conclusion on results of a study of a molecule whose normal function is to rid hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) of a potentially toxic molecule called heme. HSCs are the "parent" cells in the bone marrow that give rise to red and white blood cells.
Heme is an oxygen-carrying molecule that is a key part of enzymes used by cells to extract energy from food and by red blood cells to carry oxygen to tissues. The basic building block of heme is porphyrin, which is toxic to cells when it accumulates in high concentrations, according to John Schuetz, Ph.D., associate member in the department of Pharmaceutical Sciences. Schuetz is senior author of the Journal of Biological Chemistry article, which also reports on studies of a molecule called BCRP (breast cancer resistance protein), which protects HSCs from excessive levels of heme.
Bonnie Cameron | EurekAlert!
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