JUL 17, 2018 12:54 PM PDT

Potential AML Drug Encourages Cancer Cell Mapping

WRITTEN BY: Nouran Amin
2 1 138

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 enjoys writing on various topics 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
MAY 08, 2018
Drug Discovery
MAY 08, 2018
Promising Treatment for Alcoholism
Investigators at the University of Texas at Austin have successfully used animal models to examine a drug believed to inhibit the symptoms of alcohol withd
MAY 15, 2018
Drug Discovery
MAY 15, 2018
Rett Syndrome: Possible Drug Treatment
A research study published in Cell Reports explains that a new drug was seen to reduce symptoms of Rett Syndrome in preclinical models while activating dor
MAY 30, 2018
Drug Discovery
MAY 30, 2018
Blood Vessel Growth Promoting Factor May Treat Osteoporosis
According to a new study at Weill Cornell Medicine, a blood vessel growth promoting-molecule may create a suitable environment for bone-building, providing
JUL 17, 2018
Videos
JUL 17, 2018
Novartis Ends Antibiotic Research
The United Nations has warned that by 2050, antibiotic-resistant microbes might kill ten million people every year.
JUL 31, 2018
Drug Discovery
JUL 31, 2018
Two Molecules Identified For Treating Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
Scientists at Rutgers University have discovered two molecules that protect nerve cells, serving as motivation to develop new drugs for brain damage. The d
AUG 15, 2018
Drug Discovery
AUG 15, 2018
Peripheral Nerve Blockers Treat Facial Pain
A new research study published American Journal of Emergency Medicine explains the use of peripheral nerve inhibitors in the treatment of facial pain condi
Loading Comments...