Identification of treatment resistance in a new type of leukemia

Scientists from the stem cell and cancer research group Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute (IMIM) discovered that inhibit a key protein overcomes treatment resistance in patients with T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

The research, published in the journal EMBO Molecular Medicine”, showed that the combination of chemotherapy with a inhibitor of this protein is used to eliminate treatment resistance in mice.

This type of leukemia is a rare sickness, which is diagnosed in about a hundred people every year in Spain, mainly in the following countries pediatric patients.

The study, in which researchers from the Hospital Sant Joan de Déu, also corroborated that the action of this protein can be used to determine which patients will respond to treatment treatment and those who will not.

Anna Bigas, coordinator of the research group at IMIM-Hospital del Mar, scientific director of CIBER Cancer (CIBERONC) and vice-director of preclinical research at the Josep Carreras Leukemia Research Institute, explained that they worked with patient samples and corroborated the results obtained with mice.

Beta-catenin protein

The study confirmed the decisive role of beta-catenin protein in the formation of leukaemia, due to its action on certain genes of the cells concerned.

In total, they identified 79 genes involved, although, according to Mr Bigas, they will now have to do further research to determine which are the most important, such as predictors of treatment resistance.

“What this genetic signature indicates is that the patients have a increased probability of not responding to chemotherapy” and what we’re suggesting is that if we combine the chemotherapy with inhibitors of this protein, beta-catenin, we get a better response to chemotherapy,” Bigas summarized.

The results in mice showed that this combination fact that refractory cases respond to treatment, a finding that the researchers believe could also help the successful leukemia approach in patients who respond to drugs.

In addition, several beta-catenin inhibitors are already being studied for to treat other tumours.

T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia is more common in the pediatric age group, and survival rate entered 80% to 90%, but in adult cases, the survival rate drops to 50%.

According to Bigas, this study could pave the way for a indicator patient response to treatment.

“The Decisive Genes”.

“One of the jobs we’re doing now is looking at which of these genes are the most determining, the most informative, and to see if a reduction of this gene signature can be used to guide the diagnostic The researcher, who will now initiate studies with cells from human patients in mice, said: “It is important to understand how patients respond to conventional chemotherapies.

In case of sound consolidation conclusions and the security of this approach, they will consider launching a clinical trial on humans combining chemotherapy and beta-catenin inhibitors.

The head of the hematology department at Hospital del Mar, Antonio Salar, believes that “the results of the study are very promising for this type of leukemia, which needs to be treated more effectively. new and more effective therapeutic strategies.

“As clinical hematologists, we hope that the next step of research is successful and can proceed to the patient research phase,” Salar said.

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