OCT 26, 2020 9:00 AM PDT

Attacking leukemia trojan horse style

Researchers from the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry have developed a new approach to targeting leukemic stem cells, the cells that grow into leukemia. The approach is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and works by removing leukemic stem cells from where they reside in the bone marrow.

Leukemic stem cells are found in very specific environments in the bone marrow called malignant niches. It is within a malignant niche that leukemic stem cells can survive and multiply. So, in order to stay physically attached to the niche, these cells use integrins to bind themselves to the extracellular matrix, a process that is only possible with the help of an intracellular protein called Kindlin-3.

So, thought the research team, if there is no Kindlin-3, can there be no leukemia? In investigating this question, the researchers used mice models to test out their idea: deliver a Kindlin-3 destroying siRNA compound into leukemic stem cells in order to disable leukemic stem cells’ survival tool.

The first author of the study, Peter Krenn, explains: "The isoform Kindlin-3 is only used by blood cells. If mice harbor leukemic stem cells that lack Kindlin-3, they do not develop leukemia. Without Kindlin-3 and active integrins, the leukemic stem cells cannot attach themselves to their niche environment and are released from the bone marrow into the blood. Since they cannot home elsewhere either, they remain in the blood. There the leukemic stem cells lack the urgently needed support, which they usually receive from the niche, and die."

 A stem cell transplant can help restore healthy bone marrow in patients with leukemia. Photo: Pixabay

Krenn continues: "In our current study we have developed a new therapeutic approach to treat chronic myeloid leukemia in mice. However, the principle of the therapy is universally valid. The inhibited Kindlin-3 production and consequent loss of integrin function prevents the cancer cells from being able to adhere and settle in tumor-promoting niches. I assume that this method will also prevent the cancer cells of other types of leukemia from settling and that these diseases could thus become much more treatable."

The researchers look forward to continuing their investigations in order to explore further strategies to fight leukemia.

Sources: PNAS, Science Daily

About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
JAN 31, 2021
Genetics & Genomics
Targeting Aneuploidy in Cancer Cells
JAN 31, 2021
Targeting Aneuploidy in Cancer Cells
Cancer is typically related to problems in cells' genomes that lead to uncontrolled cell growth, and the formation of tu ...
FEB 09, 2021
Clinical & Molecular DX
Make Tissues Transparent to Spot Hidden Tumors, Let Machines Do the Rest
FEB 09, 2021
Make Tissues Transparent to Spot Hidden Tumors, Let Machines Do the Rest
A clearly defined border differentiates benign tumors from malignant ones. Malignant tumors start to get fuzzy around th ...
FEB 18, 2021
Cancer
Measuring the psychological impacts of cancer and additional comorbidities
FEB 18, 2021
Measuring the psychological impacts of cancer and additional comorbidities
In a new analysis of 2017 data from the National Health Survey of Spain published in Psycho-Oncology, researchers find t ...
FEB 23, 2021
Cancer
Quantifying cancer survivors' stress during the early months of the pandemic
FEB 23, 2021
Quantifying cancer survivors' stress during the early months of the pandemic
Approximately one-third of cancer survivors were psychologically distressed during the early months of the pandemic due ...
MAY 13, 2021
Immunology
Tumors Hide From the Immune System by Masquerading as Baby Cells
MAY 13, 2021
Tumors Hide From the Immune System by Masquerading as Baby Cells
The immune system is programmed to recognize foreign bodies as potentially dangerous, promptly removing them before the ...
MAY 09, 2021
Cancer
Vegetarian diet shows low levels of disease-related biomarkers
MAY 09, 2021
Vegetarian diet shows low levels of disease-related biomarkers
Researchers from the University of Glasgow have conducted a study on biomarkers in order to glean more information on th ...
Loading Comments...