27 Aug 2013

Researchers discover an Achilles heel of childhood leukaemia


leukeumia
Research led by Associate Professor David Curtis at the Australian Centre for Blood Diseases (ACBD) has identified a protein essential for the development and growth of a type of childhood leukaemia (ETP-ALL) that responds poorly to current treatments.
In collaboration with Dr Matthew McCormack at the Walter & Eliza Hall for Medical Research, Associate Professor Curtis used a mouse model of ETP-ALL to show that expression of the transcription factor Lyl1 is abnormally expressed in leukemic stem cells, rare cells in the leukaemia that are critical for the growth and drug resistance of ETP-ALL. By using genetically modified mice lacking Lyl1 and viruses that can reduce its expression, the research team showed that ETP-ALL could no longer grow. This work identifies a promising target for the development of new drugs in this poor prognosis leukaemia. The findings were recently published in the journal Blood and were funded by the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council, Cancer Council Victoria, Leukaemia Foundation of Australia and the Charles and Sylvia Foundation. Journal reference.
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