Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


New leukemia treatment offers hope


Antibodies directed against cancer stem cells could help patients with acute myeloid leukemia.

An antibody drug that targets a surface marker on cancer stem cells could offer a promising new therapeutic approach for treating acute myeloid leukemia (AML), a form of blood cancer that affects an estimated 50,000 people in Saudi Arabia.

Antibodies that block CD44 could help destroy acute myeloid leukemia cells. © 2016 KAUST

The leukemia stem cells responsible for propagating the disease express a protein on their surface called CD44. Antibodies that block CD44 have been shown to trigger the stem cells to mature, leading to a reduction in the growth and proliferation of these stubbornly hard-to-treat cells. But it wasn’t clear how or why this happens.

Jasmeen Merzaban and her colleagues from King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), Saudi Arabia, studied the signaling pathways that change through treatment with a CD44-directed antibody [1]. Working with both human AML cell lines and a mouse model, the researchers showed that inhibiting CD44 with the antibody led to a decrease in the expression of two central pathways implicated in the aberrant growth of cancer cells: the PI3K (phosphoinositide 3-kinase) and the mTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin) pathways.

Notably, the antibody blocked both of the structurally distinct complexes that include mTOR. That’s important because a complete shutdown of mTOR signaling is probably needed to disrupt the multiple feedback loops that can fuel cancer growth, and drugs that only inhibit one of these complexes have in the past, failed to demonstrate a therapeutic benefit for patients with AML.

“A growing body of evidence suggests that a broader inhibitor would result in a more potent therapeutic effect,” said Merzaban.

An anti-CD44 drug like the one tested by Merzaban might just be that broad inhibitor. Encouragingly, in her team’s hands it doesn’t seem to have toxicity issues.

“We show that the anti-CD44 antibody used for our studies had no effect on normal blood cells,” said Samah Gadhoum, a research scientist in Merzaban’s lab group at KAUST and the first author of the study. “However, more work is needed to carefully determine the effect of these antibodies on other cells and other cellular functions within the body.”

Merzaban, Gadhoum and their colleagues are now running follow-up experiments. For now, though, all their results “support the use of anti-CD44 antibodies for the treatment of AML as a differentiation-inducing therapy,” said Merzaban.

As an added bonus: Unlike other therapies that seem to work only for certain forms of the disease, “the interesting thing about CD44-antibody treatment is that it is able to induce differentiation of many more AML subtypes,” said Merzaban.

Associated links

Journal information

[1] Gadhoum, S.Z., Madhoun, N.Y., Abuelela, A.F. & Merzaban, J.S. Anti-CD44 antibodies inhibit both mTORC1 and mTORC2: A new rationale supporting CD44-induced AML differentiation therapy. Leukemia advance online publication 8 August 2016 (doi: 10.1038/leu.2016.221).

Michelle D'Antoni | Research SEA
Further information:

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia
21.10.2016 | Universitätsklinikum Magdeburg

nachricht New potential cancer treatment using microwaves to target deep tumors
12.10.2016 | University of Texas at Arlington

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>