Researchers at The Ottawa Hospital and the University of Ottawa have found the Achilles' heel of one of the most aggressive forms of leukemia that affects both children and adults. They have also identified a possible new treatment that exploits this fatal weakness. Their study, published in Genes & Development on March 1, 2016, focuses on a type of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) that involves a gene called TAL-1. The article is titled “UTX Inhibition As Selective Epigenetic Therapy Against TAL1-Driven T Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.” Senior author Dr. Marjorie Brand and her team discovered that a compound called GSK-J4 can kill this form of cancer. By transplanting cancer cells from human patients into normal mice, the authors showed that the compound can kill the leukemia quickly, efficiently, and with no short-term side effects. GSK-J4 was created by the pharmaceutical industry for research purposes, and has never been used as a cancer therapy. "It's very exciting because this is the first time anyone has found a potential personalized treatment for this aggressive disease," said Dr. Brand, a senior scientist at The Ottawa Hospital and professor at the University of Ottawa. "Unlike current therapies, ours targets the offending gene without harming the rest of the body." Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is the most common type of cancer in children. It develops in the white blood cells that usually help the body fight infection. The type of cancer Dr. Brand studies is called T-ALL, because it affects a particular kind of white blood cells called T-cells. T-ALL represents 15 percent of childhood ALL cases. This study in particular dealt with a common form of T-ALL called TAL-1.
Login Or Register To Read Full Story