Researchers have identified a self-feeding "vicious circle" of molecules that keeps acute leukemia cells alive and growing and that drives the disease forward.
The finding suggests a new strategy for treating acute myeloid leukemia (AML), one that targets this molecular network and lowers the amount of a protein called KIT, say researchers at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center-Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC-James) who conducted the study.
Published in the April 13 issue of the journal Cancer Cell, the study described a new network of protein and microRNA molecules that, when imbalanced, contributes to abnormal KIT protein abundance and favors leukemia development. The researchers were also able to target this network with therapeutic drugs.
"We now understand the mechanism responsible for making so much KIT protein in AML cells, and we believe that targeting that mechanism and reducing the amount of that protein will prove to be a more effective therapy for this disease than the current standard of care," says study leader Dr. Guido Marcucci, professor of internal medicine and an AML specialist at the OSUCCC-James.