New research from a SU2C Convergence Research Team may lead to a breakthrough in the fight against several forms of treatment-resistant blood cancer.
It’s been previously known that patients with the blood cancers acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and plastic plasmacytoid dendritic cell neoplasm (BPDCN) may be initially resistant to treatment or develop resistance over time. But new research from Joan Montero, PhD, the V-Foundation Scholar on a SU2C Convergence Research Team, uncovered a biological mechanism associated with treatment resistance and devised a new combination of drugs already approved by the FDA to overcome such resistance, including a chemotherapy which delivers the toxin secreted by the diptheria bacterium. The resistance mechanism Dr. Montero found uses an epigenetic switch to turn off a gene required for the diphtheria toxin to be lethal. Epigenetic switches are a tool that cells use to turn genes on and off without changing the DNA.
The discovery means that drugsusing this new approach will be effective for more people, and for longer periods of time. So far, this research was conducted in the laboratory, and is now being studied in patients in a phase I clinical trial. You can read the scientific paper here.