Leukemia: Cancer cells killed off with diabetes drug
Scientists may have found an innovative way to kill off cancer cells in acute myeloid leukemia, all the while preserving and regenerating healthy red blood cells.
The new study was carried out by researchers from the McMaster Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada.
Mick Bhatia — a professor of biochemistry and biomedical sciences at McMaster University and director of the McMaster Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute — led the investigation, and the findings have been published in the journal Nature Cell Biology.
As the scientists explain, conventional methods for treating leukemia focus on targeting leukemic cells, paying little attention to preserving red blood cells.
But the production of healthy blood cells in the bone marrow is crucial for preventing leukemia patients from having anemia or fatal infections.
First study author Allison Boyd — a postdoctoral fellow at the McMaster Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute — says, "Our approach represents a different way of looking at leukemia and considers the entire bone marrow as an ecosystem, rather than the traditional approach of studying and trying to directly kill the diseased cells themselves."
"These traditional approaches have not delivered enough new therapeutic options for patients," she continues. "The standard-of-care for this disease hasn't changed in several decades."
The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimate that 21,380 people will be diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) in 2017. Most of these will be adults, as AML tends to target seniors.
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