On the trail of a targeted therapy for blood cancers

October 10, 2008
Left panel: normal bone marrow tissue. Right panel: bone marrow with deletion of the Cul4A gene and loss of its protein. Credit: Indiana University School of Medicine

Investigators from the Herman B Wells Center for Pediatric Research at the Indiana University School of Medicine are focusing on a family of blood proteins that they hope holds a key to decreasing the toxic effects of chemotherapy in children and adults.

Their findings may one day help in the development of targeted therapies for leukemia, multiple myeloma and other cancers of the blood.

The researchers, led by Kristin T. Chun, Ph.D., assistant professor of pediatrics and of biochemistry and molecular biology, studied how the cullin family of proteins affects the degradation of proteins that control the development of blood cells. Their work was published in the July 15 issue of Blood, the journal of the American Society of Hematology.

The cullin family of proteins is involved in the degradation of proteins that control a myriad of cell functions, including those that determine whether a blood cell will eventually develop into a mature blood cell, will divide, or will undergo programmed cell death.

"How cullin 4A regulates other proteins that control the fate of blood cells is important because when cullin 4A fails to regulate their degradation properly, blood cells die and this leads to bone marrow failure. There are many reasons why this is significant." said Dr. Chun. "For example, when blood cells make wrong decisions the result can be a lack of a sufficient number of certain types of mature blood cells causing leukemia, anemia, or bone marrow failure."

Working with mice which had been genetically engineered to lack cullin 4A, the researchers found that within less than two weeks all blood cells disappeared because without this cullin, no new blood cells were being made.

"Our work is the first to show an effect in all blood cells and establishes that Cul4A is essential for the survival of blood cells and possibly other cells including cells of the intestine. It's still early in the scientific process but we know this protein is involved in many cellular pathways in the body. If we can learn about the pathway this protein takes, we may be able to develop targeted drug therapies that are better at attacking diseased blood cells and avoiding healthy ones," said Dr. Chun, who is a member of the IU Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center.

Source: Indiana University

Explore further: 'Bacterial litmus test' provides inexpensive measurement of micronutrients

Related Stories

Researchers control embryonic stem cells with light

August 26, 2015

UC San Francisco researchers have for the first time developed a method to precisely control embryonic stem cell differentiation with beams of light, enabling them to be transformed into neurons in response to a precise external ...

How zebrafish rebuild the skeleton of amputated fins

August 24, 2015

Fish, in contrast to humans, have the fascinating ability to fully regenerate amputated organs. The zebrafish (Danio rerio) is a popular ornamental fish. When parts of its tailfin are injured by predators, or are experimentally ...

Supercomputers listen to the heart

August 19, 2015

New supercomputer models have come closer than ever to capturing the behavior of normal human heart valves and their replacements, according to recent studies by groups including scientists at the Institute for Computational ...

Determining America's most lethal animal

August 13, 2015

Animal attacks have been in the news a lot. Late last year, a 22-year-old student in New Jersey was killed by a black bear he had been photographing. This summer, swimmers off the coast of North Carolina have suffered a record ...

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.