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Anti Atherosclerosis Therapies Linked to Leukemia

Scientists studying inflammation and atherosclerosis have recently seen a convergence of their respective fields. Another recent discovery made during the study// of anti atherosclerosis therapies was a tendancy towards development of a dangerous blood cancer known as hronic myelogenous leukemia, or CML.

Inflammation is an aspect of the immune response to injury and disease; atherosclerosis, with its characteristic lesions in the blood vessel walls, underlies most cardiovascular disease, including heart attacks and strokes.

Scientists at The Wistar Institute pursuing a promising new immune-system target for anti-atherosclerosis therapies discovered an unwanted potential side effect of any such therapies is a dangerous blood cancer called chronic myelogenous leukemia, or CML. More positively, the CML seen in the genetic strain of mice used in the study closely mimics human CML, so that the mice offer a new model for studying CML, opening the door for researchers to better understand that disease. The Wistar team's results are featured on the cover of the current issue of the Journal of Experimental Medicine, published October 30.

The Wistar scientists initiated their experiments to build on a series of findings that had suggested that blocking certain enzymes called lipoxygenases could inhibit the kind of chronic inflammation in the blood vessel walls that drives the atherosclerotic process. Even better, blocking these enzymes seemed only to affect one type of immune cell, the macrophage, and to interfere only with its role in chronic inflammation. The acute response of the macrophages to infectious agents like bacteria, critical for protection against disease, remained unfettered.

"We and others had hoped that blocking this enzyme would safely slow or stop certain chronic inflammatory responses that have been linked to atherosclerosis," says Ellen Puré, Ph.D., a professor in the Molecular and Cellular Oncogenesis and Immu
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