Researchers at Children's Hospital Los Angeles have discovered that by targeting a particular receptor, chemotherapy-resistant cancer cells can be killed in an acute form of childhood leukemia, offering the potential for a future treatment for patients who would otherwise experience relapse of their disease.
Nora Heisterkamp, PhD, and colleagues at The Saban Research Institute of Children's Hospital Los Angeles have discovered that by targeting the B-cell activating receptor (BAFF-R), chemotherapy-resistant precursor B acute lymphoblastic leukemia cells (pre-B ALL) can be selectively killed in vivo and in vitro. Results will be published on May 13 in Molecular Cancer Therapeutics.
This is Nora Heisterkamp, Ph.D.
Credit: Children's Hospital Los Angeles
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is characterized by an excessive amount of white blood cell precursors, called B-cell lymphoblasts, in the blood and bone marrow. B-cell lineage ALL (pre-B ALL) accounts for 80 to 85% of childhood ALL. Although the cure rate has increased, further advances can only be achieved by identifying mechanisms to treat specific subsets of chemotherapy-resistant leukemia cells.
In a previous study (Leukemia, 2013), the researchers had shown that BAFF-R is expressed on pre-B ALL cells but not on their normal counterparts, making selective killing of ALL cells possible by targeting this receptor.
"We've now demonstrated that BAFF-R is a strong potential therapeutic target for treating chemotherapy-resistant leukemia cells, without damaging healthy cells," said Heisterkamp, who is also professor of Research, Pediatrics and Pathology at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California.
Using a genetically-engineered antibody (anti-BAFF-R monoclonal antibody), Heisterkamp and colleagues have demonstrated that the BAFF-R could be successfully blocked in a dose-dependent manner. Inhibition of BAFF-R function rendered leukemia cells less viable in mouse models of the disease. Also, the presence of this antibody on the pre-B ALL cells resulted in increased killing of the cancer cells by natural killer (NK) cells and macrophages.
"We found that human pre-B ALL cells could be even further reduced when the anti-BAFF-R antibody was combined with chemotherapy or another therapeutic agent," said Heisterkamp. "We are looking at a potential one, two punch." Heisterkamp and her colleagues will continue to evaluate the use of this antibody for the treatment of ALL.
Co-authors include Reshmi Parameswaran, Min Lim, Fei Fei, Hisham Abdel-Azim, Anna Arutyunyan, Isabelle Schiffer, John Groffen, of The Saban Research Institute of Children's Hospital Los Angeles; and Margaret E. McLaughlin, Hermann Gram, Heather Huet, of Novartis Institute for Biomedical Research.
Funding for this research came from National Institutes of Health grants PHS CA090321, CA 172040, Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation for Childhood Cancer, the V-Foundation for Cancer Research and Novartis Pharmaceuticals.
About Children's Hospital Los Angeles
Children's Hospital Los Angeles has been named the best children's hospital in California and among the top five in the nation for clinical excellence with its selection to the prestigious US News & World Report Honor Roll. Children's Hospital is home to The Saban Research Institute, one of the largest and most productive pediatric research facilities in the United States, is one of America's premier teaching hospitals and has been affiliated with the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California since 1932.
Media Contact: Ellin Kavanagh, firstname.lastname@example.org (323) 361-8505
Ellin Kavanagh | Eurek Alert!
Real-time imaging of lung lesions during surgery helps localize tumors and improve precision
30.07.2015 | American Association for Thoracic Surgery
Experimental MERS vaccine shows promise in animal studies
29.07.2015 | NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
Using ultracold atoms trapped in light crystals, scientists from the MPQ, LMU, and the Weizmann Institute observe a novel state of matter that never thermalizes.
What happens if one mixes cold and hot water? After some initial dynamics, one is left with lukewarm water—the system has thermalized to a new thermal...
Physicists from Regensburg and Marburg, Germany have succeeded in taking a slow-motion movie of speeding electrons in a solid driven by a strong light wave. In the process, they have unraveled a novel quantum phenomenon, which will be reported in the forthcoming edition of Nature.
The advent of ever faster electronics featuring clock rates up to the multiple-gigahertz range has revolutionized our day-to-day life. Researchers and...
Researchers have developed an ultrafast light-emitting device that can flip on and off 90 billion times a second and could form the basis of optical computing.
Joint BioEnergy Institute study identifies bacterial protein that is key to protecting rice against bacterial blight
A bacterial signal that when recognized by rice plants enables the plants to resist a devastating blight disease has been identified by a multi-national team...
Researchers in the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin are one step closer to delivering smart windows with a new level of energy efficiency, engineering materials that allow windows to reveal light without transferring heat and, conversely, to block light while allowing heat transmission, as described in two new research papers.
By allowing indoor occupants to more precisely control the energy and sunlight passing through a window, the new materials could significantly reduce costs for...
23.07.2015 | Event News
10.07.2015 | Event News
25.06.2015 | Event News
31.07.2015 | Trade Fair News
31.07.2015 | Transportation and Logistics
31.07.2015 | Physics and Astronomy