New Leukemia Treatment Target Suggested

COLUMBUS, Ohio, April 20 (UPI) — U.S. medical researchers say they have identified a group of molecules that keep acute leukemia cells alive and, therefore, might be a treatment target.

Ohio State University scientists said their findings suggest a new strategy for treating acute myeloid leukemia as well as lowering the amount of a protein called KIT.

They said they discovered a network of protein and microRNA molecules that, when imbalanced, contribute to abnormal KIT protein abundance. That, in turn, favors leukemia development, they said.

“We now understand the mechanism responsible for making so much KIT protein in AML cells, and we believe that targeting that mechanism and reducing the amount of that protein will prove to be a more effective therapy for this disease than the current standard of care,” said Dr. Guido Marcucci, a professor of internal medicine who co-led the study.

“Our study suggests that the amount of KIT protein in cancer cells is as important as its activity, and we discovered that the amount of the protein is controlled by a circular network of molecules that has many points of entry,” co-leader Dr. Ramiro Garzon said. “These findings provide a strong rationale for the use and development of drugs that target the components of this network, rather than focusing on the activity of KIT alone.”

The research appears in the April 13 issue of the journal Cancer Cell.

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