FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 2016

New drug treatment for leukemia discovered

A study published in Cancer Research shows that a combination of the drug ABT-737 and BEZ235 helps stop cell suicide in cancer cells, which fights the symptoms of leukemia.

A team of scientists at Virginia Commonwealth University Massey Cancer Center led by Dr. Steven Grant found the combination of these two drugs had a significant impact on cell death.

"This study builds on many years of work in our laboratory investigating the mechanisms that regulate apoptosis in human leukemia cells," Grant said. "To the best of our knowledge, it is the first to raise the possibility that activation of the P13K/AKT/mTOR pathway, rather than genetic mutations within the pathway, may represent the best predictor of leukemia cell responses to these targeted agents."

Leukemia is a cancer of the blood or bone marrow. One of the reasons leukemia is a difficult cancer to treat is because it is found throughout the body and decays the red blood cells or bone marrow cells.

"These findings could lead to a new therapeutic strategy for patients with [acute myelogenous leukemia] and potentially other diseases by targeting patients whose leukemia cells display activation of a specific survival pathway," Grant said.

The hope of the researchers is to now work with National Cancer Institute and find ways to use these new combination of drugs to help people with AML.