Australian scientists have discovered a new drug for treating children with an aggressive form of leukemia.
Seventy drugs were tested over a decade at the University of New South Wales (UNSW). Around 150 Australian children were diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), the most common childhood cancer and 15 percent would have an aggressive subtype of 'ALL' known as 'T-ALL', that is generally less responsive to therapy and more likely to relapse.
UNSW Conjoint Richard Lock and Donya Moradi Manesh, based at the Children's Cancer Institute, have shown that a drug known as PR-1042 is effective against laboratory models of aggressive T-ALL.
"During the 10 years we've been funded under the NCI program, we've tested over 70 drugs and combinations, and PR-104 is one of the most exciting yet, with the potential to be fast-tracked into clinical trials for children," said Lock.
The team found that only the T cell subtype expressed high levels of AKR1C3, an enzyme that activates PR-104. The research team is in the process of examining the molecular biology behind AKR1C3, and trying to understand why T-ALL cells express very high levels of the enzyme.