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Thwarting leukemia drug resistance

Researchers identify a pathway that allows leukemia to evade a common cancer treatment -- and develop a way to block it

Hannah Waters
Tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) quell unregulated cell growth and are commonly used to treat cancer, but many tumors develop resistance to the therapy. New research published today in Nature identifies a pathway that keeps the cancer cells alive long enough to evolve such resistance, and shows that inhibiting this pathway in mice with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) can prevent treatment evasion and cancer reemergence. "This is a very important article showing a novel mechanism for ALL resistance to TKI therapy," leukemia immunologist linkurl:Meir Wetzler;http://www.roswellpark.org/bio/meir-wetzler-md-facp of the Roswell Park Cancer Institute, who was not involved in the research, wrote in an email to The Scientist. "It holds promise for novel treatment approaches in patients."
In acute lymphoblastic leukemia, immature white blood cells -- stained purple here -- proliferate in the marrow, crowding out normal cells and spreading to other organs. It's fatal in a few weeks without treatment.
Image: Wikimedia...
BCL6C. Duy et al., "BCL6 enables Ph+ acute lymphoblastic leukaemia cells to survive BCR-ABL1 kinase inhibition," Nature 473: 384-8, 2011.


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