Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Clinical importance of leukemia stem cells validated by new study

Date:
August 28, 2011
Source:
University Health Network
Summary:
New research focuses on patients and shows that acute myeloid leukemia (AML) contains rare cells with stem cell properties, called leukemia stem cells (LSC), that are better at predicting clinical outcome than the majority of AML cells, showing for the first time that LSCs are significant not just in experimental models but also in patients.

Cancer scientists have long debated whether all cells within a tumour are equal or whether some cancer cells are more potent -- a question that has been highly investigated in experimental models in the last decade. Research published in Nature Medicine focuses on patients and shows that acute myeloid leukemia (AML) contains rare cells with stem cell properties, called leukemia stem cells (LSC), that are better at predicting clinical outcome than the majority of AML cells, showing for the first time that LSCs are significant not just in experimental models but also in patients.

"Even though LSCs are like a needle in a haystack, their unique properties influence whether AML will respond to therapy or whether the disease comes back. This means that future efforts to prevent the disease from recurring and improving overall patient survival must consider ways to target LSCs to ensure they are killed," says principal investigator John Dick, who holds a Canada Research Chair in Stem Cell Biology and is a Senior Scientist at the McEwen Centre for Regenerative Medicine and the Ontario Cancer Institute, Princess Margaret Hospital. Dr. Dick pioneered the cancer stem cell field by identifying leukemia stem cells in 1994 and colon cancer stem cells in 2007.

By sorting, analyzing and comparing healthy stem cells, leukemia stem cells and clinical data, Dr. Dick's international research team uncovered a set of genes, or signature, that was common to both normal and LSCs and showed that the set could accurately predict the course of disease in the patients studied. Patients that strongly expressed the stem cell signature had much shorter survival than those patients that had low expression of the signature. The research team included post-doctoral fellows Kolja Eppert, Eric Lechman and Katsuto Takenaka and PhD student Peter van Galen.

The genes within the stem cell signature provide new drug targets that could be used to eliminate LSCs. These genes also represent potential AML biomarkers that could be used to identify those patients that might benefit from more aggressive therapy. In the long term, this information could be used to personalize cancer therapy and get the right drug to the right patient, as opposed to a "one-size-fits-all" approach of treating groups of patients identically.

"Although our research was on AML, our findings that LSCs are real and relevant in patients set the entire cancer stem cell field on a firmer footing. Our approach could be used as a template to test the clinical importance of cancer stem cells from solid tumors and other forms of leukemia," says Dr. Dick, who works out of UHN's Ontario Cancer Institute -- where stem-cell science began 50 years ago -- and alongside this generation's other leading stem-cell scientists at the McEwen Centre for Regenerative Medicine.

Dr. Dick recently isolated normal human blood stem cells and developed the first means to collect them in large quantities. As well as being a Senior Scientist at UHN's Princess Margaret and Toronto General Hospitals, he is a Professor in the Department of Molecular Genetics, University of Toronto, and Director of the Cancer Stem Cell Program at the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research.

This research was supported by The Stem Cell Network of Canadian National Centres of Excellence, the Terry Fox Foundation, Ontario Institute for Cancer Research with funds from the province of Ontario, the Canadian Cancer Society Research Institute, Genome Canada through the Ontario Genomics Institute, the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, a Canada Research Chair, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology in Japan. Computational resources were supported in part by Ontario Research Fund, Canada Foundation for Innovation and IBM. Grants from the German Ministry of Education and Research, the DFG also contributed. This research was funded in part by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care. Dr. Dick's research is also supported by The Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Health Network. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Kolja Eppert, Katsuto Takenaka, Eric R Lechman, Levi Waldron, Björn Nilsson, Peter van Galen, Klaus H Metzeler, Armando Poeppl, Vicki Ling, Joseph Beyene, Angelo J Canty, Jayne S Danska, Stefan K Bohlander, Christian Buske, Mark D Minden, Todd R Golub, Igor Jurisica, Benjamin L Ebert, John E Dick. Stem cell gene expression programs influence clinical outcome in human leukemia. Nature Medicine, 2011; DOI: 10.1038/nm.2415

Cite This Page:

University Health Network. "Clinical importance of leukemia stem cells validated by new study." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 August 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110828141044.htm>.
University Health Network. (2011, August 28). Clinical importance of leukemia stem cells validated by new study. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110828141044.htm
University Health Network. "Clinical importance of leukemia stem cells validated by new study." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110828141044.htm (accessed April 18, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, April 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Obama: 8 Million Healthcare Signups

Obama: 8 Million Healthcare Signups

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) — President Barack Obama gave a briefing Thursday announcing 8 million people have signed up under the Affordable Care Act. He blasted continued Republican efforts to repeal the law. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) — A recent study links apathetic feelings to a smaller brain. Researchers say the results indicate a need for apathy screening for at-risk seniors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) — A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thousands Of Vials Of SARS Virus Go Missing

Thousands Of Vials Of SARS Virus Go Missing

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) — A research institute in Paris somehow misplaced more than 2,000 vials of the deadly SARS virus. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins