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An unexpected way to cause leukemia
Date:4/7/2008

mia, the mutation acts on already partially differentiated cells. It reprogrammes these cells to self-renew and to produce countless dysfunctional daughter cells, which displace the healthy blood cells, eventually leading to the inability to transport oxygen around in the body.

This is the first time that non-stem cell myeloid leukaemia has been generated within a healthy blood system. The findings will have profound implications for our understanding of the development and treatment of leukaemias, says Nerlov.

Scientists always thought that the mutation was the crucial step leading to leukaemia that should be targeted by drugs. Nerlov and colleagues identified a genetic programme activated in self-renewing leukemic cells, which is shared with similar leukaemias caused by other types of mutations. The findings suggest that the cellular changes that lead to self-renewal are mutation-independent. To develop drugs with a more general efficacy it may therefore be more efficient to target the molecules and pathways shared between different cancer stem cells.


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Contact: Anna-Lynn Wegener
wegener@embl.de
49-622-138-7452
European Molecular Biology Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert

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