Addition of a drug used to treat iron
overload, deferoxamine, improved the efficiency of
chemotherapy in patients with an aggressive type of leukemia called acute myeloid leukemia (AML).
- Adding deferoxamine to chemotherapy
treatment for Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML) increases survival prospects.
- Deferoxamine, a
drug used to treat iron overload, blocks leukemia cells from invading stem
cell areas in the bone marrow.
- The drug
facilitated the rescue of healthy blood stem cells thus improving the
efficiency of chemotherapy.
chemotherapy is the standard treatment for AML, the five year survival rate in older patients is only 5
to 15 percent. Adding the new drug to the treatment routine in mice showed to
improve survival prospects. The study
findings led by a research team from Imperial College London are published in
the journal Cell Stem Cell.
research team has visualized how leukemia cells infiltrate the bone marrow in
mice and have made a crucial discovery.
are certain specific areas or blood vessels of the bone marrow that support
stem cells that differentiate into all types of blood cells. However, it was
observed that when the leukemia cells
take over these stem cell areas, the stem cell population is lost and so is the
production of healthy blood cells
. 'Hijacking' these stem cell sites causes
problems like anemia, infection and bleeding in patients that affects the
success of chemotherapy.
‘Deferoxamine prevents leukemia cells from overtaking blood vessels in the bone marrow that specifically house blood stem cells.’
team has also confirmed the loss of these vessels in humans by studying patient
important finding was that a drug
already approved to treat a condition called iron overload can protect stem
cell areas in the bone marrow from being overtaken by the cancer cells
the drug is already approved for human use for a different condition, we
already know that it is safe. We still need to test it in the context of
leukemia and chemotherapy, but because it is already in use we can progress to
clinical trials much quicker than we could with a brand new drug," said
lead author, Dr Cristina Lo Celso from the Department of Life Sciences at
Since the drug is already an FDA approved
drug, the time required to bring it into the market if found appropriate for
AML is significantly less
. Understanding if deferoxamine is an option for
treating AML in humans should take less than 5 years, compared to 10 to 15
years for an entirely new drug.
has also been used to treat myelodysplasia
, a leukemia-related disease where
young blood stem cells do not mature into healthy blood cells.
research team aims to collaborate with clinicians and begin human clinical
trials of the drug for treating AML.
Duarte, a physician, PhD student and co-author said "Our work suggests
that therapies targeting these blood vessels may improve existing therapeutic
regimes for AML, and perhaps other leukemias too."
- Delfim Duarte et al. Inhibition of endosteal vascular niche remodeling rescues hematopoietic stem cell loss in AML. Cell Stem Cell. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.stem.2017.11.006