University of Texas (UT) Southwestern Medical Center researchers have found that intermittent fasting inhibits the development and progression of the most common type of childhood leukemia. This strategy was not effective, however, in another type of blood cancer that commonly strikes adults. "This study using mouse models indicates that the effects of fasting on blood cancers are type-dependent and provides a platform for identifying new targets for leukemia treatments," said Dr. Chengcheng "Alec" Zhang, Associate Professor of Physiology at UT Southwestern and senior author of the study, published online on December 12, 2016 in Nature Medicine. The article is titled “Fasting Selectively Blocks Development of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia via Leptin-Receptor Upregulation.” "We also identified a mechanism responsible for the differing response to the fasting treatment," he added. The researchers found that fasting both inhibits the initiation and reverses the progression of two subtypes of acute lymphoblastic leukemia, or ALL - B-cell ALL and T-cell ALL. The same method did not work with acute myeloid leukemia (AML), the type that is more common in adults. ALL, the most common type of leukemia found in children, can occur at any age. Current ALL treatments are effective about 90 percent of the time in children, but far less often in adults, said Dr. Zhang, who also holds the Hortense L. and Morton H. Sanger Professorship in Oncology and is a Michael L. Rosenberg Scholar in Medical Research. The two types of leukemia arise from different bone marrow-derived blood cells, he explained. ALL affects B cells and T cells, two types of the immune system's disease-fighting white blood cells. AML targets other types of white blood cells such as macrophages and granulocytes, among other cells.
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