February 11, 2009

Working Toward New Leukemia Therapies

Using a mouse model of human leukemia, researchers have unlocked more information about the genetic factors related to the generation and maintenance of leukemia stem cells. The discovery is likely to have profound impact on how future therapy can be designed to target cancer stem cells.

Leukemia stem cells (LSCs) were initially described as rare cells that share characteristics with normal hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs). HSCs are known as partially committed adult stem cells that can give rise to multiple types of blood cells.  The new research demonstrates that LSCs can represent a significant fraction of leukemic cells and exhibit characteristics commonly found with more mature cells.

"Since LSCs may be more numerous and mature than originally proposed, the nature and generality of the hierarchical organization of malignancies has recently been questioned," study author Michael L. Cleary, M.D., from the Department of Pathology at Stanford University, was quoted as saying.

SOURCE: Cell Stem Cell, February 2009


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