Shift focus from bad stem cells to good to fight leukemia

Share this article:

Maintaining a viable population of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) may be nearly sufficient to eradicate leukemia stem cells (LSCs) from the system, suggest the results of a new study.

HSCs, which are responsible for maintaining immune cells, red blood cells, and platelets throughout life, must be located in their ecological niche—the bone marrow—to regenerate themselves and their progeny, explained Adam L. MacLean of the Imperial College London, in London, United Kingdom, and colleagues in Journal of the Royal Society Interface. The progeny eventually exit the bone marrow and enter circulation.

Noting that cancer/leukemia stem cells and their progeny also occupy that niche and that the two cellular species directly compete against one another for resources, the investigators used computer modeling to explore the “ecology” of the hematopoietic niche. They carried out computer simulations to find conditions that would result in vanishing numbers of leukemia cells.

The findings indicated that maintaining a friendly environment for the healthy cells was a more effective cancer treatment than was targeting the damaged cells directly: The models showed that the greatest chance of conquering leukemia came from maintaining a healthy population of HSCs rather than from direct attempts to destroy LSCs.

“That's a slightly surprising result which nobody has explicitly stated before,” pointed out coauthor Michael Stumpf, also of Imperial College London, in a statement from the institution. “It allows us to understand these processes in a way that could be important for potential therapeutic responses.”

Share this article:
You must be a registered member of ONA to post a comment.

Sign Up for Free e-newsletters

Regimen and Drug Listings

GET FULL LISTINGS OF TREATMENT Regimens and Drug INFORMATION

Bone Cancer Regimens Drugs
Brain Cancer Regimens Drugs
Breast Cancer Regimens Drugs
Endocrine Cancer Regimens Drugs
Gastrointestinal Cancer Regimens Drugs
Genitourinary Cancer Regimens Drugs
Gynecologic Cancer Regimens Drugs
Head and Neck Cancer Regimens Drugs
Hematologic Cancer Regimens Drugs
Lung Cancer Regimens Drugs
Other Cancers Regimens
Rare Cancers Regimens
Skin Cancer Regimens Drugs

More in Web Exclusives

Promising results from trial for late-stage peritoneal cancers

A drug originally used to treat ovarian cancer has shown promising results in patients with advanced peritoneal cancers during a phase I clinical trial.

New analyses of epigenetics reveal tumor weaknesses

Scientists have known for decades that cancer can be caused by genetic mutations, but more recently they have discovered that chemical modifications of a gene can also contribute to cancer.

Major breakthrough in understanding acute lymphoblastic leukemia

By analyzing the DNA sequence of patients at different stages of leukemia, researchers have discovered mutations in genes that lead to childhood leukemia of the acute lymphoblastic type, the most common childhood cancer.