Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New therapy for specific form of leukemia

01.10.2004


Leukemia, or cancer of the bone marrow, strikes some 700 Belgians each year. Medical science has been at a total loss regarding the origin or cause of some forms of this disease − including T-cell acute lymphatic leukemia, or T-ALL. But now, researchers from the Flanders Interuniversity Institute for Biotechnology (VIB), connected to the Catholic University of Leuven, have discovered the possible cause of the disease in 6% of the T-ALL patients. The scientists have found small circular DNA fragments in the cells of these patients that contain the ABL1 cancer gene. ABL1 also plays an important role in other forms of leukemia. The good news is that ABL1 is counteracted with the drug Glivec, and so this medication can now also provide help to a number of T-ALL patients.

T-ALL: T-cell acute lymphatic leukemia In normal circumstances, our white blood cells combat foreign intruders, like viruses and bacteria. However, in leukemia, there is a breakdown in the formation of white blood cells. The cells in the bone marrow that should develop into white blood cells multiply out of control without fully reaching maturity. These blood cells function inadequately, disrupting the production of normal blood cells. Among other effects, this makes patients more susceptible to infections. Leukemia appears in several forms − in the case of T-ALL, a large accumulation of immature white blood cells occurs within a very short time. This is the most common type of cancer in children under the age of 14 − striking children between two and three years of age, in particular. At present, an optimal treatment, with chemotherapy, cures over half of these children.

ABL1 plays a prominent role in several forms of leukemia



ABL1 is a kinase, a type of protein that catalyzes a number of processes in the cell − in the case of ABL1, this is the process of cell division. It is crucial that kinases function in a very controlled manner within our cells. Loss of control of their functioning disturbs the normal functioning and division of cells. Thus, such disorders in the functioning of ABL1 are a major cause of certain forms of leukemia. Existing drug now used with T-ALL patients Research performed by Jan Cools and his colleagues, under the direction of Peter Marynen, shows for the first time that ABL1 also lies at the root of T-ALL − which has a direct effect on the treatment of T-ALL patients. Indeed, a drug exists − called Glivec − that suppresses the action of ABL1. Glivec has already been successfully administered to patients with other forms of leukemia in which ABL1 plays a role. The new research results show that Glivec can also provide a better treatment for a small group of T-ALL patients. Jan Cools has already successfully conducted the first laboratory tests with Glivec on the cancer cells of these patients.

Ingenious research

The team of Jan Cools and Peter Marynen, along with Carlos Graux and colleagues from the Centre for Human Heredity under the direction of Anne Hagemeijer, noticed that the ABL1 gene was present in greater quantities in the white blood cells of 6% of the T-ALL patients. The genetic code of ABL1 is at chromosome 9. Through a flaw at the ABL1 gene, a piece of DNA is split off and ’takes on a life of its own’ as it were. This fragment contains the ABL1 gene, connected to another gene. Due to this fusion, ABL1 works non-stop − stimulating cell growth unremittingly. This process leads to an uncontrolled growth of immature white blood cells and thus to T-ALL. With these findings, the researchers have revealed a new mechanism for the formation of active cancer genes on circular DNA fragments. The researchers are now concentrating their efforts on discovering the role of ABL1 and other kinases in all T-ALL patients. In the future, they hope to be able to administer Glivec, and other kinase inhibitors, to treat these patients as well.

Relevant scientific publications

The research of the VIB scientists from Peter Marynen’s group appears on 1 October in the authoritative journal, Nature Genetics (Graux C, Cools J et al., Nature Genetics, 36(10):1084-1089 (2004)) and is online on the journal’s website: http://www.nature.com/naturegenetics.

Sooike Stoops | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.vib.be
http://www.nature.com/naturegenetics

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Magic number colloidal clusters
13.12.2018 | Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg

nachricht Record levels of mercury released by thawing permafrost in Canadian Arctic
13.12.2018 | University of Alberta

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: An energy-efficient way to stay warm: Sew high-tech heating patches to your clothes

Personal patches could reduce energy waste in buildings, Rutgers-led study says

What if, instead of turning up the thermostat, you could warm up with high-tech, flexible patches sewn into your clothes - while significantly reducing your...

Im Focus: Lethal combination: Drug cocktail turns off the juice to cancer cells

A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.

The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...

Im Focus: New Foldable Drone Flies through Narrow Holes in Rescue Missions

A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.

Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...

Im Focus: Topological material switched off and on for the first time

Key advance for future topological transistors

Over the last decade, there has been much excitement about the discovery, recognised by the Nobel Prize in Physics only two years ago, that there are two types...

Im Focus: Researchers develop method to transfer entire 2D circuits to any smooth surface

What if a sensor sensing a thing could be part of the thing itself? Rice University engineers believe they have a two-dimensional solution to do just that.

Rice engineers led by materials scientists Pulickel Ajayan and Jun Lou have developed a method to make atom-flat sensors that seamlessly integrate with devices...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

ICTM Conference 2019: Digitization emerges as an engineering trend for turbomachinery construction

12.12.2018 | Event News

New Plastics Economy Investor Forum - Meeting Point for Innovations

10.12.2018 | Event News

EGU 2019 meeting: Media registration now open

06.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Magic number colloidal clusters

13.12.2018 | Life Sciences

UNLV study unlocks clues to how planets form

13.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Live from the ocean research vessel Atlantis

13.12.2018 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>