Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researchers discover normal version of molecular pathway affected in poor-prognosis childhood leukemia

07.06.2013
Through genetic engineering of laboratory models, researchers at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center have uncovered a vulnerability in the way cancer cells diverge from normal regenerating cells that may help treat children with leukemia as reported in the journal PNAS on June 3, 2013.
Dartmouth researchers are trying to understand the key pathways that distinguish how a normal blood cell grows and divides compared to the altered growth that occurs in leukemia. In addition to the treatment of leukemia, the work has relevance for expanding umbilical cord blood or bone marrow stem cells for transplantation.

Leukemia often occurs due to chromosomal translocations, which are broken chromosomes that cause blood cells to grow uncontrollably. One gene that is involved in chromosomal translocations found at high frequency in childhood leukemia is the MLL1 (Mixed Lineage Leukemia 1) gene. Conventional chemotherapy is very ineffective at curing patients with this translocation, in contrast to other types of childhood leukemia, which are relatively curable.

Using genetic engineering, the researchers generated a mouse model to discover genes that are regulated by MLL1 in hematopoietic stem cells, the cells that give rise to all white and red blood cell types. In the course of these studies, they identified several unique properties of the normal MLL1 pathway in hematopoietic stem cells that may be exploited to better treat leukemia harboring MLL1 translocations.

"We discovered that many genes that depend upon the normal MLL1 protein are involved in maintaining hematopoietic stem cells, thus manipulating this pathway could be a way to expand cells from normal bone marrow or umbilical cord blood donors to improve transplantation of these cell types, which is a procedure used to treat certain chemotherapy-resistant cancers," said Patricia Ernst, PhD, co-director Cancer Mechanisms, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center, associate professor of Genetics and of Microbiology and Immunology at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, Hanover, NH.

As principle investigator, Ernst and her team set out to discover the genetic pathways controlled by the normal form of the MLL1 protein and leukemogenic MLL1 fusion proteins specifically in hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs). Delineation of these pathways will facilitate research by her group and others aimed at developing strategies to kill leukemia cells without harming HSCs, which are often profoundly affected by current chemotherapeutic regimens. In performing this research, they also discovered a new molecular pathway that controls normal HSC biology.

"We demonstrate in this study, that some direct MLL1 target genes in HSCs are affected by Menin loss (a protein involved in the inherited disorder, Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia), and some are not," said Ernst. "This is a fundamentally important observation that demonstrates this category of chromatin modifiers utilizes different protein complexes/mechanisms to target different classes of genes in different cell types."

Ernst points out that this highly desirable outcome that would not have been predicted for this targeted therapy and may illustrate that drugs blocking the interaction of these two proteins (currently under development by other groups) leave normal hematopoiesis intact. She is working on follow-up studies of this finding.

Research funded by NIH HL090036 and RR16437 as well as additional grants from American Cancer Society, Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation for Cancer Research, Lady Tata Memorial Trust, and the Lauri Strauss Leukemia Foundation.

About Norris Cotton Cancer Center at Dartmouth-Hitchcock

Norris Cotton Cancer Center combines advanced cancer research at Dartmouth College and the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College with patient-centered cancer care provided at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, at Dartmouth-Hitchcock regional locations in Manchester, Nashua, and Keene, NH, and St. Johnsbury, VT, and at 12 partner hospitals throughout New Hampshire and Vermont. It is one of 41 centers nationwide to earn the National Cancer Institute's "Comprehensive Cancer Center" designation. Learn more about Norris Cotton Cancer Center research, programs, and clinical trials online at cancer.dartmouth.edu.

For more information contact Donna Dubuc at (603) 653-3615.

Donna Dubuc | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.hitchcock.org

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht One gene closer to regenerative therapy for muscular disorders
01.06.2017 | Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center

nachricht The gut microbiota plays a key role in treatment with classic diabetes medication
01.06.2017 | University of Gothenburg

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: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>