Drugs that block the action of an enzyme called glycogen synthase kinase (GSK3) may prove useful in treating a particular type of poor prognosis leukaemia, suggests a study published online in Nature.
Michael Cleary and colleagues focused on a subtype of leukaemia characterized by alterations in the MLL gene, which accounts for up to 10% of sporadic leukaemias in adults and children. Mice with a version of the cancer and treated with the GSK3 inhibitor lithium carbonate lived significantly longer than placebo-treated controls. And in vitro, a different GSK3 inhibitor stopped MLL leukaemia cells from proliferating.
GSK3 is involved in many different signalling pathways, and GSK3 inhibitors are currently being tested as therapies for different diseases, including Alzheimer's. The current findings are at odds with previous studies, which show that GSK3 can suppress cancer-linked signalling pathways. So the results highlight an unexpected and intriguing potential anti-cancer role for GSK3 inhibitors.
Michael Cleary (Stanford University School of Medicine, CA, USA)
Abstract available online.
(C) Nature press release.
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