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New Drug Could Work Against Leukemia

Researchers see promise for treatment of AML and other cancers

THURSDAY, July 2 (HealthDay News) -- A new targeted therapy shows promise in treating acute myeloid leukemia, a highly treatment-resistant blood cancer, according to a new study.

Researchers created an antibody (7G3) that recognizes and binds to a molecule called CD123, which is expressed at high levels on leukemia stem cells (LSCs), but not on normal blood cells. LSCs are cells that can cause acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and are critical for its long-term growth.

When AML-LSCs from human patients were transplanted into mice, those treated with 7G3 survived longer than mice that didn't receive the antibody. The researchers found that 7G3 blocked a signaling pathway in tumor cells, impaired migration of AML-LSCs to bone marrow and activated the immune system to destroy AML-LSCs.

The findings, published in the July 2 issue of the journal Cell Stem Cell, hold promise for future cancer treatments, according to the study authors.

"The recent characterization of defined populations of cancer stem cells in a range of human malignancies, as well as their relative resistance to conventional chemotherapy and radiotherapy, supports the broad applicability of our approach and provides rationale for the progression of AML-LSC-targeted therapeutics from preclinical evaluation to clinical trials," wrote Richard Lock, an associate professor at the Children's Cancer Institute Australia and the University of New South Wales, in a news release.

More information

To learn more about AML, visit the National Cancer Institute.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Cell Press, news release, July 2, 2009

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