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View Full Version : Rogue stem cells 'key to leukaemia'



barbara
12-14-2010, 03:12 PM
(UKPA) ? 1 day ago

Deadly leukaemia can be tackled by "taming" rogue blood cells that fuel the disease, research has shown.
By suppressing a protein in the blood, scientists were able to switch leukaemic stem cells back to a pre-cancerous stage of development.
More aggressive leukaemic stem cells that had become resistant to treatment were "re-sensitised" to anti-cancer drugs.
The groundbreaking study, reported in the journal Cancer Cell, involved a dangerous strain of leukaemia driven by defects in the MLL (mixed lineage leukaemia) gene.
MLL cancer accounts for around 70% of infant leukaemias and 10% of those affecting adults.
Only 50% of children diagnosed with MLL leukaemia survive longer than two years after receiving standard therapy.
Professor Eric So, who led the King's College London team, said: "These results are extremely exciting and represent a critical step forward in the search for more effective treatments for this devastating form of leukaemia.
"The findings provide compelling evidence that this protein could be exploited to develop an effective therapeutic target for this form of the disease."
Stem cells are immature cells that can develop in a number of different directions.
Some are precursors of cancer cells. Leukaemic stem cells are part-way along the path that leads to cancerous white blood cells, although not all of them reach this stage.
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