A new role for a protein involved in leukaemia is described in Nature; the research demonstrates its potential as a therapeutic target to eradicate dormant leukaemia-initiating cells.
The promyelocytic leukaemia protein (PML) tumour suppressor is known to be involved in the development of some forms of leukaemia. Pier Paolo Pandolfi and colleagues identify a new and unexpected role for PML in the maintenance of both haematopoietic stem cells and leukaemia-initiating cells. They demonstrate, in mice, that targeting the protein with arsenic trioxide eliminates the cancer-initiating cells, thought to be resistant to chemotherapy and other therapies.
The team believes that their results present a new pharmacological approach to target cells that are missed by other therapies and therefore lead to disease relapse.
Pier Paolo Pandolfi (Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA)
Abstract available online.
(C) Nature press release.
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