16 August 2019

Scientists have discovered a new property of acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) cells, which could guide future treatment strategies.

Dr Ross Dickins of Monash University, Australia, together with several international collaborators, discovered that the differentiation of leukaemia stem cells can sometimes be reversed.

Using mouse models and human AML cells, they showed that even mature AML cells can reverse their maturation and become immature again. They can also regain stem cell properties and initiate leukaemia, which has important implications for the treatment of the disease.

This plasticity could represent “an important new concept relevant to clinicians involved in the diagnosis and treatment of acute myeloid leukaemia,” the researchers say.

Findings were published recently in the journal Cell Stem Cell.

Dr Dickins says: “The acute myeloid leukaemia field has traditionally accepted a model where leukaemia maturation is a one-way street.

“By demonstrating reversible leukaemia maturation, our study raises doubts around therapeutic strategies that specifically target just leukaemia stem cells. It highlights the need to eradicate all tumour cells irrespective of maturation state.”

The team believes their findings will help clinicians re-shape their thinking to find new ways to eradicate all leukaemia cells.

Source: McKenzie, M.D., Ghisi, M., Oxley, E.P., Ngo, S., Cimmino, L., Esnault, C., Liu, R., Salmon, J.M., Bell, C.C., Ahmed, N., Erlichster, M., Witkowski, M.T., Liu, G.J., Chopin, M., Dakic, A., Simankowicz, E., Pomilio, G., Vu, T., Krsmanovic, P., Su, S., Tian, L., Baldwin, T.M., Zalcenstein, D.A., DiRago, L., Wang, S., Metcalf, D., Johnstone, R.W., Croker, B.A., Lancaster, G.I., Murphy, A.J., Naik, S.H., Nutt, S.L., Pospisil, V., Schroeder, T., Wall, M., Dawson, M.A., Wei, A.H., de Thé, H., Ritchie, M.E., Zuber, J., Dickins, R.A. (2019) “Interconversion between Tumorigenic and Differentiated States in Acute Myeloid Leukemia”, Cell Stem Cell, available from doi: 10.1016/j.stem.2019.07.001


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