Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


A new treatment for T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia?


IL-7, a hormone-like protein involved in cell-cell interaction, has been associated with increased survival and expansion of T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (T-ALL). Now, in the latest issue of the Journal of Experimental Medicine, a team of scientists, not only confirms the essential role of this protein in the disease but also, for the first time, identifies the biochemical pathway affected by IL-7 in T-ALL cells, a discovery which could lead to the development of potential new treatments for the disease.

Leukaemia is a type of blood cancer which originates from an uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the bone marrow (usually the white blood cells/lymphocytes). This results in very little space left for the growth of normal cells which leads to a weakened immune system. In the case of acute leukaemia the filling of the bone marrow space is extremely fast and the disease needs immediate treatment or the patient will die.

Leukaemia affects 4 out of every 100,000 people worldwide and is the most common childhood cancer. In the United States alone, every year, more than 2,000 children and almost 27,000 adults are diagnosed with the disease.

Cytokines, such as IL-7, are powerful chemical substances secreted usually, but not only, by the immune system to transmit information/instructions between cells. IL-7 is a potent growth factor for immune cells and is indispensable for normal T-cell development. Several studies have also suggested that IL-7 was involved in T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia’s growth although there was no information on the mechanism(s) behind this effect.

João Barata, Angelo Cardoso, Vassiliki Boussiotis and colleagues at the Department of Medical Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School, Boston and at the Tumour Biology Unit, Institute of Molecular Medicine, University of Lisbon, Portugal studied T-ALL cells cultured in the presence of IL-7 trying to understand, not only the real importance of this cytokine in the disease, but also the biochemical mechanism through which IL-7 mediated its effect on T-ALL.

In this paper, the team of researchers describe how they identify, for the first time, the cellular pathway in T-ALL cells which is affected by IL-7 (the pathway identified is called PI3K/Akt(PKB)), an information that can now help scientists in the search for new treatments for the disease.

Barata, Cardoso, Boussiotis and colleagues also discovered that IL-7 affects T-ALL metabolism, increasing energy production in T-ALL cells which results in increased cell division and, ultimately, tumour growth. The team of scientists found as well, that IL-7 presence induces an increase in T-ALL cell size. Interestingly, both phenomena have been previously associated with the induction of cancer.

These results confirmed the role of IL-7 in T-ALL growth and activation and led the team of scientists to suggest that this cytokine is indispensable for T-ALL biology which further highlights the unique importance of IL-7 as a potentially therapeutic target.

Barata, Cardoso, Boussiotis and colleagues write: ”Our results implicate PI3K as a major effector of IL-7-induced viability, metabolic activation, growth and proliferation of T-ALL cells, and suggest that PI3K and its downstream effectors may represent molecular targets for therapeutic intervention in T-ALL.”

Understanding the mechanism behind disease is the first step towards a better treatment with higher efficacy and fewer secondary effects. Leukaemia, like all cancers, is still mostly treated by chemo- and radio-therapy treatments which destroy both cancerous and healthy cells and any alternative therapy that can replace or at least supplement these extremely invasive and not always effective treatments is always good news for patients and doctors alike.

Catarina Amorim | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Advanced analysis of brain structure shape may track progression to Alzheimer's disease
26.10.2016 | Massachusetts General Hospital

nachricht Indian roadside refuse fires produce toxic rainbow
26.10.2016 | Duke University

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: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

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...

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

Greater Range and Longer Lifetime

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VDI presents International Bionic Award of the Schauenburg Foundation

26.10.2016 | Awards Funding

3-D-printed magnets

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>