New gene discovery uncovers potential weakness in leukaemia cells

13 January 2016

Future treatments for leukaemia could target the weaknesses of cancer cells more effectively following a new genetic discovery.

Researchers based at King's College London, working with colleagues in the US and Hong Kong, have identified a pair of genes that play a key role in the development of acute myeloid leukaemia (AML), a severe form of the disease.

The genes, KDM4C and PRMT1, are believed to work together to change healthy blood cells into cancer cells. An experiment using mice showed that silencing either gene greatly increased the animals' chances of surviving the cancer for longer.

Moreover, blocking the activity of either gene with drugs also extended the mice's survival time, indicating that these genes could represent useful targets for the development of new therapies.

Professor Eric So, research leader at King's College London, said: "Further work is needed to develop and refine drugs to maximise their effects so that they are suitable for patients."

There are currently 2,800 UK patients diagnosed with AML each year, with aggressive chemotherapy being the most common treatment approach.

Posted by Edward Bartel


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