Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Helping healthy cells could be key to fighting leukemia, research suggests

Date:
January 22, 2013
Source:
Imperial College London
Summary:
Instead of focusing on the elimination of cancer cells, maintaining a stable population of healthy blood cells in the bone marrow could be the most effective way to fight against leukemia.

New research has shown that keeping healthy blood cells alive could be more important in fighting leukemia than eradicating cancerous cells directly.
Credit: Image courtesy of Imperial College London

Instead of focusing on the elimination of cancer cells, maintaining a stable population of healthy blood cells in the bone marrow could be the most effective way to fight against leukemia.

Researchers at Imperial College London have shown that keeping healthy blood cells alive could be a more important tool in the fight against leukemia than keeping cancerous cells at bay.

The team used computer modelling to show that maintaining a friendly environment for healthy cells was more effective than targeting the damaged cells directly. This result could change the way leukemia is treated, as cancer treatment has traditionally relied on fighting disease rather than maintaining health.

A better understanding of the processes taking place in the bone marrow could therefore allow doctors to take earlier and more targeted action in combating leukemia.

A cancer of the blood, leukemia is thought to survive and grow through the action of leukemia stem cells (LSCs), which multiply within the bone marrow. Here they face competition for resources with haematopoietic stem cells (or HSCs), which are responsible for producing and maintaining all the different varieties of healthy blood cell within the body.

The paper, published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface on January 22, is the first attempt to model competition between these two types of cells using methods borrowed from the world of ecology.

Lead author Adam MacLean said: "The first researchers to model competing populations mathematically were looking at predators and prey -- famously lynx hunting wild hares. Whilst we don't have predator and prey cells, we have two cellular species who directly compete against each other for resources, and our models analyse how that competition plays out within the biological niche of the bone marrow."

The team carried out computer simulations to find conditions that would result in vanishing numbers of leukemia cells. They found that the greatest chance of beating leukemia came from maintaining a healthy population of HSCs, rather than trying to eradicate the LSCs directly.

According to Michael Stumpf, Professor of Theoretical Systems Biology and one of the paper's co-authors, "maintaining health is more likely to eradicate leukemia than fighting leukemia directly without taking care of the healthy stem cells. And that's a slightly surprising result which nobody had explicitly stated before. It allows us to understand these processes in a way that could be important for potential therapeutic responses."

Thanks to a recent funding grant from blood cancer charity leukemia & Lymphoma Research, Dr Lo Celso and her team hope to refine the models outlined in the paper to more accurately simulate conditions in the human body.

Professor Stumpf added: "We want to make the model more useful, and find cases where we can break the model if it's incorrect. Its simplicity means that it's fairly robust, but we hope to reproduce the real complexity of the competition between HSCs and LSCs."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Imperial College London. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Imperial College London. "Helping healthy cells could be key to fighting leukemia, research suggests." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 January 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130122231349.htm>.
Imperial College London. (2013, January 22). Helping healthy cells could be key to fighting leukemia, research suggests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130122231349.htm
Imperial College London. "Helping healthy cells could be key to fighting leukemia, research suggests." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130122231349.htm (accessed April 24, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Big Pharma Braces for M&A Wave

Big Pharma Braces for M&A Wave

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 22, 2014) Big pharma on the move as Novartis boss, Joe Jimenez, tells Reuters about plans to transform his company via an asset exchange with GSK, and Astra Zeneca shares surge on speculation that Pfizer is looking for a takeover. Joanna Partridge reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Study Says Most Crime Not Linked To Mental Illness

Study Says Most Crime Not Linked To Mental Illness

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) A new study finds most crimes committed by people with mental illness are not caused by symptoms of their illness or disorder. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hagel Gets Preview of New High-Tech Projects

Hagel Gets Preview of New High-Tech Projects

AP (Apr. 22, 2014) Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is given hands-on demonstrations Tuesday of some of the newest research from DARPA _ the military's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency program. (April 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Smaller Plates And Cutlery Could Make You Feel Fuller

How Smaller Plates And Cutlery Could Make You Feel Fuller

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) NBC's "Today" conducted an experiment to see if changing the size of plates and utensils affects the amount individuals eat. 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