FEB 22, 2016 02:42 PM PST

New T-Cell Leukemia Treatment Target Identified

WRITTEN BY: Kara Marker
Around 15 to 20 percent of children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) have cancerous cells derived from T lymphocytes (immune cells), as opposed to B lymphocytes (American Cancer Society). Currently, over half of adults and 20 percent of children with T-cell ALL end up dying. New research from Boston University Medical College (BUMC) researchers offers a potential solution for lowering those fatality rates; their new study published in Leukemia  identifies a specific enzyme that cancer cells rely on for survival.
 

 
During the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle, a key step in the process of cellular aerobic respiration, cells transform pyruvate received from glycolysis into energy through oxidation of acetyl-CoA (Georgia State University). The new BUMC study identified a key enzyme involved in this process called DLST, which cancer cells require for adequate growth and survival. They discovered the cancer cell dependence on DLST by performing genetic screenings on a zebrafish model of disease, looking for specific mutations that suppress tumor development.
 
Indeed, inhibiting DLST in the zebra fish model “significantly delayed tumor onset in zebrafish without detectable effects on fish development” (Leukemia 2016). They also successfully tested DLST enzyme activity inhibition with human T-cell leukemia cells.
 
A new prospect for T-cell ALL treatment utilizing DLST inhibition is promising, especially because current treatments for this cancer are highly toxic even if they are successful in healing the patient. This finding is also significant because prior to this research, scientists did not believe that cancer cells relied on the TCA cycle for survival.
 
“Our new findings provide solid evidence that these cancer cells depend on the TCA cycle for their survival," explained corresponding author Hui Feng, MD, PhD. "Additionally we demonstrated the importance of DLST in T-cell leukemia development, and have identified a targetable enzyme for T-cell leukemia treatment.”
 

Source: BUMC
 
About the Author
  • I am a scientific journalist and enthusiast, especially in the realm of biomedicine. I am passionate about conveying the truth in scientific phenomena and subsequently improving health and public awareness. Sometimes scientific research needs a translator to effectively communicate the scientific jargon present in significant findings. I plan to be that translating communicator, and I hope to decrease the spread of misrepresented scientific phenomena! Check out my science blog: ScienceKara.com.
You May Also Like
SEP 17, 2019
Immunology
SEP 17, 2019
The Effects of Space: Immunology
A team of researchers studied the effects of spaceflights of six months or more on natural killer cells, or NK cells, a type of white blood cell that kills cancerous cells in the body....
SEP 17, 2019
Microbiology
SEP 17, 2019
How a Parasitic Amoeba Evades the Immune System
A parasitic amoeba that causes a gut disease can nibble on host cells and use their proteins. (Image courtesy UC Davis/Hannah Miller)...
SEP 17, 2019
Space & Astronomy
SEP 17, 2019
Spaceflight Activates Dormant Herpes Viruses in Astronauts
Modern science is teaching us that long-term exposure to microgravity, such as living on the International Space Station from ten days to several months at...
SEP 17, 2019
Cell & Molecular Biology
SEP 17, 2019
Understanding and Treating the Mechanisms That Drive Rheumatoid Arthritis
In RA, cells of the immune system mistakenly attack the joints, and cause the painful inflammation that is a hallmark of the disease....
SEP 17, 2019
Microbiology
SEP 17, 2019
Lab Mice Born to Moms From the Wild Make Better Research Models
A standard research mouse genotype was preserved while generating a natural microbiome by using wild mice as surrogates....
SEP 17, 2019
Genetics & Genomics
SEP 17, 2019
DNA Construction Kit Could Drive Down Costs of Immune Therapy
Researchers at KU Leuven in Belgium have created a DNA construction kit that, when injected into muscle cells, enables sheep to produce new antibodies to f...
Loading Comments...