New treatment potential for drug-resistant leukaemia

10 February 2015

A team from the Institute for Molecular Medicine (FIMM), the University of Helsinki and the Helsinki University Central Hospital Comprehensive Cancer Center, have identified a potential new avenue for treating drug-resistant leukaemia.

The Finnish researchers uncovered an unrecognised effect of a commonly used drug, which could enable it to inhibit a dominant mutation that triggers drug resistance in leukaemia.

Published in the journal Nature, the team studied cancer cells from patients with chronic myelogenous and acute lymphoblastic leukaemia(CML and ALL) who had all developed resistance to previous treatments.

Resistance to treatment is caused by a mutation in a specific fusion protein - BCR-ABL1 - which drives the cancers. 

Olli Kallioniemi, the director of FIMM, said the findings "highlight the power of drug repositioning" and searching for new uses for existing, emerging or abandoned drugs. 

"This study shows what can be achieved when academic institutions and pharmaceutical companies team up to study effects of drugs using cells directly obtained from patients," he added.

Posted by Philip Briggs

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