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An Achilles heel of AML
Date:4/15/2012

ls, which fight infections; red cells, which carry the blood's oxygen supply; and platelets, which clog vessels when they are cut and help minimize blood loss.

Instead, the mutant precursors give rise to leukemia cells, which accumulate in the bone marrow and bloodstream, crowding out the healthy blood components, and commonly lead to life-threatening infections, anemia, and bleeding.

Over the last several decades, the five-year survival for acute myeloid leukemia has not improved, even as better diagnostic tests, imaging techniques and treatments have driven down mortality for other forms of cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute, 1 in 256 Americans will be diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in their lifetime and today nearly four out of five people with the disease die within five years of their diagnosis.

The goal of therapy is to eliminate cancerous cells altogether from the bone marrow, and the discovery several years ago that many people with acute myeloid leukemia have activating mutations in the FTL3 gene, coupled with the relationship of these mutations to poor prognosis, led scientists to speculate that targeting this mutated gene might be an effective way to fight the cancerbut only if the gene was critically important for the survival of leukemia cells.

Several drugs were tested in the clinic, but failed to put the disease into deep remission. The cause for these failures came down to one of two possible reasons: either the FTL3 gene mutations were not central "drivers" critical for cancer to develop and leukemia cells to survive, or the drugs themselves could not achieve the necessary degree of inhibition of FLT3.

The new work by Shah and his colleagues demonstrates the latter. They worked with eight leukemia patients who participated in a clinical trial involving a compound known as AC220, the first clinically-active FLT3 inhibitor. All eight relapsed after first achieving deep remissions wi
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Contact: Jason Socrates Bardi
jason.bardi@ucsf.edu
415-502-6397
University of California - San Francisco
Source:Eurekalert  

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