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Knocking Out Survival Protein Could Aid Leukemia Treatment



Byrd, Hussain and their collaborators conducted this research using cancer cells from 17 CLL patients and ALL cell lines grown in the laboratory.

The investigators placed molecules called small interfering RNA (siRNA) inside the cells and found that the tiny molecules greatly reduced the amount of the survival protein, causing many of the cells to die. The effect was the same even in cells that came from patients with advanced cancer or from patients with tumors that resisted conventional treatment.

When the researchers treated cells with both siRNA and the drug rituximab, the combination killed significantly more leukemia cells than the drug alone.

Overall, says Byrd, 'Our data indicate that specifically targeting Mcl1 might be effective in the treatment of CLL, particularly when combined with rituximab.'

Funding from the National Cancer Institute, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and the D. Warren Brown Foundation supported this research. Byrd is the D. Warren Brown Professor of Leukemia Research and a Clinical Scholar of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

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