JUL 17, 2018 12:54 PM PDT

Potential AML Drug Encourages Cancer Cell Mapping

WRITTEN BY: Nouran Amin

International researchers have sought to be the first in mapping family trees of cancer cells in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) to help them understand how this particular blood cancer responds to a new drug by the name of enasidenib.

The most common and aggressive blood cancer in adults, AML is incurable in most patients. Roughly 12-15% of individuals diagnosed with AML have a mutation in the IDH2 gene which inhibits bone marrow cells from differentiating, or maturing, into blood cells that are required for life. Instead, these immature cells accumulate in the bone marrow and blood, a hallmark of AML.

"Enasidenib is an important new treatment. However, the initial studies did not show which AML cells responded to enasidenib and started to differentiate again. It was also unclear how the cells become resistant to therapy," said Dr. Stéphane de Botton, a physician in the hematology department at Gustave Roussy. "We wanted to answer these questions."

Samples that were taken from 37 AML patients who responded to enasidenib in the clinical trial were investigated by researchers who examined biomarkers on the surface of the bone marrow cells to identify the different populations of bone marrow cells, from the immature, undifferentiated cells, called progenitor cells, through to mature, differentiated cells.

 

"You can imagine the bone marrow as an assembly line that constantly needs to produce mature blood cells," said co-author, Dr. Lynn Quek, MRC clinician scientist and consultant hematologist at the MRC Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine. "In a patient before treatment, this assembly line becomes blocked. Using specialist techniques, we studied bone marrow cells from patients to find out how the bone marrow assembly line becomes blocked and how enasidenib helps to promote differentiation to unblock the assembly line."

 

AML is a result of errors in DNA sequence, or mutations, in blood cells, the team studied the genetic make-up of AML cells. Results showed that AML cells retrieved from the same patient can be categorized families that share the same genetic mutations, called clones. The cells that belong to the same clone or family are a result of the same ancestor cell. Understanding the relationship between clones is crucial to providing information on the origins and development of AML.

 

"When an AML patient has a bone marrow test, we are taking a snapshot of the family tree of leukemia cells," said Dr. Quek. "As we treat the AML, there are shifts in the family dynamics as some clones will die and others will grow. In every cancer, there are several families or clones of cancer cells. In AML we were able to see how these responded to enasidenib. We used techniques to study genetic mutations on a cell-by-cell basis and re-constructed the family tree of a patient's AML. We then tracked changes in the family of AML cells as they responded to enasidenib and as patients lost response to the drug. This is the first time that anyone has done such a detailed study at a single cell level. As enasidenib is a new anti-leukemic drug, it was vital to understand the effects of the drug on leukemic cells."

 

About the Author
  • Nouran earned her BS and MS in Biology at IUPUI and currently shares her love of science by teaching. She enjoys writing on various topics as well including science & medicine, global health, and conservation biology. She hopes through her writing she can make science more engaging and communicable to the general public.
You May Also Like
NOV 25, 2019
Technology
NOV 25, 2019
How artificial intelligence (AI) is improving immunotherapy
Researchers at Case Western Reserve University’s digital imaging lab are pioneering the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to predict the efficacy o...
DEC 16, 2019
Drug Discovery & Development
DEC 16, 2019
Vaccine To Protect Against The Zika Virus
Scientists at The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston present for the first time how a single high dose vaccine can protect a pregnant mouse al...
DEC 18, 2019
Drug Discovery & Development
DEC 18, 2019
Stroke Drug Enhances Stem Cell Therapies for Spinal Cord Injuries
Using rat models of spinal cord injuries, Yasuhiro Shiga, MD, PhD, thought treating them with stem cell therapy would point to nowhere but the nature of re...
JAN 20, 2020
Cancer
JAN 20, 2020
Did you know these non-cancer drugs can also fight cancer?
A study from MIT. Harvard and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute has concluded that almost 50 existing non-oncological drugs have anti-cancer properties capa...
JAN 22, 2020
Cannabis Sciences
JAN 22, 2020
Antibiotic Properties Found in Cannabis Compound
The World Health Organization has identified antibiotic resistance, when bacteria no longer respond to antibiotics, as one of the biggest threats to global...
FEB 03, 2020
Drug Discovery & Development
FEB 03, 2020
HIV Viral Structures Improve Therapeutics
Researchers have recently discovered how a powerful class of HIV drugs bind to a key piece of HIV machinery. Their findings, for the first time, shows how ...
Loading Comments...