Researchers at the Oregon Health & Science University Cancer Institute have made a major advancement in understanding the roots of Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML).
CML is a form of blood cancer characterized by the increased and unregulated growth of predominantly myeloid cells in the bone marrow and the accumulation of these cells in the blood.
The study led by Thomas Bumm, M.D., OHSU Cancer Institute member, discovered that there are abnormal cells in the early stem cell population in some CML patients, which don't belong to the CML clone.
"We are looking under the surface of CML to understand better where the cancer is coming from. We have discovered abnormal cells in the early stem cell population in some CML patients, which don't belong to the CML clone. These are abnormal cells that are not part of the CML clone," said Bumm.
Bumm examined the Philadelphia Chromosome-negative stem cells, known to be the driving force of the CML and found that chromosome negative cells are not normal looking, which they had thought to be normal, healthy cells, and have normal chromosomes.
"But no, these chromosome negative cells are not normal looking. We are seeing that there are other abnormal cells in the early stem cell population in the bone marrow of some CML patients that are Philadelphia Chromosome-negative," he added.
"They have abnormalities such as the deletion of chromosome 7 or a duplication of chromosome 8," he explained.
However, it is still unclear why patients with CML have these abnormal cells and to what extent. These newly discovered abnormal cells are also seen in other cancers such as myelodysplastic syndrome.
Bumm hopes that their studies into the stem cell compartment of CML patients might help to find new targets for CML therapy to cure this cancer.
The study was presented at the American Society of Hematology annual meeting in Atlanta.