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Cell death researchers identify new Achilles heel in acute myeloid leukemia
Date:1/17/2012

ells rapidly die. This is exciting because it identifies Mcl-1 as a potential target for new anti-cancer medications."

Because of the important role pro-survival Bcl-2 family proteins, including Mcl-1, play in cancer development and in the response of cancer cells to treatment, new classes of medications are being developed to block these proteins, making cancer cells die. One class of these medications, called BH3 mimetics, which inhibit certain pro-survival Bcl-2 family proteins, are currently in clinical trials for the treatment of some forms of leukaemia.

Dr Glaser is hopeful that in the future, new treatments for AML will be developed that work by specifically blocking Mcl-1. "We found that many types of AML cells were very dependent on Mcl-1 to survive", he said. "When Mcl-1 was depleted from the AML cells, they rapidly died. Importantly, non-cancerous blood cells were much less susceptible to dying when Mcl-1 was depleted. This means that, if Mcl-1 inhibitors are developed, there may be a 'treatment window' in which AML cells are killed, while normal blood cells that are essential for health can be spared, helping patients recover from the treatment much better. We are optimistic that in the future, Mcl-1 inhibitors may improve the outlook for AML patients, who currently have a very poor prognosis."


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Contact: Vanessa Solomon
solomon@wehi.edu.au
61-393-452-971
Walter and Eliza Hall Institute
Source:Eurekalert  

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