New discovery could soon make leukaemia history

London: Researchers in Australia are close to finding a promising new way to kill leukaemia cancer cells in patients.

Researchers from South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) and the University of Adelaid’s Centre for Personalised Cancer Medicine, have found that cancer cells decide whether to live or die after a short period of intense exposure to targeted therapy, opposing the current requirement for continuous treatment.

Professor Deborah White, Director, Cancer Research with SAHMRI and University of Adelaide professor said that the discovery is paradigm shifting and the findings are not just applicable to chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) therapy, but to all targeted cancer treatments.

She added that they were looking for methods that will result in the cancer cell killing itself, which would provide an improved treatment and reduce the risk of cancer relapse.

Lisa Schafranek, University of Adelaide PhD student, who had been investigating the role of a common protein known as STAT5 with Professor White and her research team, said added that the activity of the protein appeared to be a critical determinant of the decision for cancer cells to live or die, and their research found that by blocking STAT5 in conjunction with exposure to a regular anti-cancer treatment, they were able to target the leukaemia cells more effectively.

The results have been published online ahead of print in the journal Leukaemia.


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