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Toronto researcher's discovery points to a new treatment avenue for acute myeloid leukemia
Date:7/6/2009

Toronto, July 6, 2009-- Dr. John Dick, Senior Scientist at the Ontario Cancer Institute, the research arm of Princess Margaret Hospital, co-led a multinational team that has developed the first leukemia therapy that targets a protein, CD123, on the surface of cancer stem cells that drive acute myeloid leukemia (AML), which is an aggressive disease with a poor outcome.

Dr. Richard Lock is leading the clinical trial in Australia that expands on research suggesting that antibodies targeting cancer stem cells significantly reduced the growth of human AML cells that had been transplanted into immune-deficient mice, a laboratory model that mimics the human disease, establishing the therapeutic potential of this type of therapy.

Dr. Tom Hudson, President and Scientific Director of the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR) congratulated Dr. Dick, who is the Program Leader of OICR's Cancer Stem Cell Program. Dr. Hudson said, "John Dick has made remarkable progress in the understanding of what initiates and sustains cancer. Together with his collaborators Dr. Dick has developed the first anti-cancer monoclonal antibody therapy that specifically targets cancer stem cells. This discovery offers hope for the development of treatments that target the cancer stem cells of other types of tumours as well."

"This is precisely the role we envisioned for the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research when the McGuinty government created it back in 2005," said Minister of Research and Innovation John Milloy. "Bringing together this province's considerable strengths around cancer prevention, detection, diagnosis and treatment is helping Ontario lead the fight against this terrible disease."

The research on AML builds on the discovery by Dr. Dick that there is a population of cells within cancer, termed cancer stem cells, which are responsible for sustaining cancer growth. Their earlier research had shown that cancer stem cells are often resis
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Contact: Nicole Bodnar
nicole.bodnar@uhn.on.ca
416-946-2846
University Health Network
Source:Eurekalert

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