Research suggests that patients with leukemia sometimes relapse because standard chemotherapy fails to kill the self-renewing leukemia initiating cells, often referred to as cancer stem cells. In such cancers, the cells lie dormant for a time, only to later begin cloning, resulting in a return and metastasis of the disease.
One such type of cancer is called pediatric T cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, or T-ALL, often found in children, who have few treatment options beyond chemotherapy.
A team of researchers – led by Catriona H. M. Jamieson, MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and Director of Stem Cell Research at UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center – studied these cells in mouse models that had been transplanted with human leukemia cells. They discovered that the leukemia initiating cells which clone, or replicate, themselves most robustly activate the NOTCH1 pathway, usually in the context of a mutation.
Earlier studies showed that as many as half of patients with T-ALL have mutations in the NOTCH1 pathway – an evolutionarily conserved developmental pathway used during differentiation of many cell and tissue types. The new study shows that when NOTCH1 activation was inhibited in animal models using a monoclonal antibody, the leukemia initiating cells did not survive. In addition, the antibody treatment significantly reduced a subset of these cancer stem cells (identified by the presence of specific markers, CD2 and CD7, on the cell surface.)
“We were able to substantially reduce the potential of these cancer stem cells to self-renew,” said Jamieson. “So we’re not just getting rid of cancerous cells: we’re getting to the root of their resistance to treatment – leukemic stem cells that lie dormant.”
The study results suggest that such therapy would also be effective in other types of cancer stem cells, such as those that cause breast cancer, that also rely on NOTCH1 for self-renewal.
“Therapies based on monoclonal antibodies that inhibit NOTCH 1 are much more selective than using gamma-secretase inhibitors, which also block other essential cellular functions in addition to the NOTCH1 signaling pathway,” said contributor A. Thomas Look, MD of Dana-Farber/Children Hospital Cancer Center in Boston. “We are excited about the promise of NOTCH1-specific antibodies to counter resistance to therapy in T-ALL and possibly additional types of cancer.”
In investigating the role of NOTCH1 activation in cancer cell cloning, the researchers showed that leukemia initiating cells possess enhanced survival and self-renewal potential in specific blood-cell, or hematopoietic, niches: the microenvironment of the body in which the cells live and self-renew.
The scientists studied the molecular characterization of CD34+ cells – a protein that shows expression in early hematopoietic cells and that facilitates cell migration – from a dozen T-ALL patient samples.
They found that mutations in NOTCH1 and other genes capable of promoting the survival of cancer stem cells co-existed in the CD34+ niche. Mice transplanted with CD34-enriched NOTCH1 mutated T-ALL cells demonstrated significantly greater leukemic cloning potential than did mice without the NOTCH1 mutation. The mutated cells were uniquely susceptible to targeted inhibition with a human monoclonal antibody, according to the scientists.
Additional contributors to the study include Wenxue Ma, Daniel J. Goff, Ifat Geron, Anil Sadarangani, Christina A. M. Jamieson, Angela C. Court, Alice Y. Shih, Qingfei Jiang, Christina C. Wu, Kristen M. Smith, Leslie A. Crews, Ida Deichaite, Sheldon R. Morris and Dennis A. Carson, UC San Diego Department of Medicine and Stem Cell Program, UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center; Alejandro Gutierrez, Dana-Farber/Children Hospital Cancer Center in Boston; and Kang Li, Ping Wei and Neil W. Gibson, Oncology Research Unit, Pfizer Global Research and Development, La Jolla Laboratories, San Diego.
This work was supported by the Ratner Family Foundation, the Leichtag Family Foundation, and Moores Cancer Center Donor Funds; grants from the National Institute of Health (1K08CA133103 and 5P01CA68484); the William Lawrence Foundation, and the American Society of Hematology-Amos Medical Faculty Development program. Jamieson’s work was supported by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM).
Debra Kain | Newswise Science News
Cancer diagnosis: no more needles?
25.05.2018 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel
Less is more? Gene switch for healthy aging found
25.05.2018 | Leibniz-Institut für Alternsforschung - Fritz-Lipmann-Institut e.V. (FLI)
The more electronics steer, accelerate and brake cars, the more important it is to protect them against cyber-attacks. That is why 15 partners from industry and academia will work together over the next three years on new approaches to IT security in self-driving cars. The joint project goes by the name Security For Connected, Autonomous Cars (SecForCARs) and has funding of €7.2 million from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Infineon is leading the project.
Vehicles already offer diverse communication interfaces and more and more automated functions, such as distance and lane-keeping assist systems. At the same...
A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.
The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...
At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.
At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...
There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?
At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...
So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics
Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...
25.05.2018 | Event News
02.05.2018 | Event News
13.04.2018 | Event News
25.05.2018 | Event News
25.05.2018 | Machine Engineering
25.05.2018 | Life Sciences