Leukemia Fact Sheet

Leukemia Fact Sheet

CIRM funds cancer research including basic research into cancer stem cells, the cells that many researchers believe are at the heart of cancer. Other projects are moving the basic research toward new therapies, including one clinical trial that is already underway.

If you want to learn more about CIRM funding decisions or make a comment directly to our board, join us at a public meeting. You can find agendas for upcoming public meetings on our meetings page.

Learn more about stem cell research:
Stem Cell Basics Primer | Stem Cell Videos | What We Fund

Find clinical trials:
CIRM does not track stem cell clinical trials. If you or a family member is interested in participating in a clinical trial, please see the national trial database to find a trial near you: clinicaltrials.gov

Stem cell research for leukemia

Leukemia is a cancer of the blood cells. The stem cells in the bone marrow normally form all cells of the blood system, including the red blood cells, platelets, and immune cells. In people with leukemia, the bone marrow stem cells create abnormal immune cells that aren’t able to carry out their normal job of fighting infection.

Eventually, these abnormal cells crowd out the normal blood cells. Without a sufficient population of working blood cells, people with leukemia develop symptoms such as anemia, bleeding and infections.

Recent research has shown that in addition to these abnormal white cells, leukemia patients also have a small population of cells called leukemia stem cells. Scientists suspect that these cells evade treatments that kill leukemia cells and then later go on to cause a relapse. The goal of stem cell research for leukemia is to find ways of destroying these leukemia stem cells.

Catriona Jamieson of the UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center discusses a clinical trial for a pre-leukemia condition that was based in part on CIRM funding

Disease Teams

University of California, San Diego

The group led by researchers at the University of California, San Diego will test drug candidates already in use or under evaluation in the pharmaceutical industry to see which are most effective at eradicating the leukemia stem cells in a lab dish. Once they have identified drugs that seem effective in the lab dish, they will begin testing those drugs in other models of leukemia.

Stanford University

The Stanford University team has found a protein on the surface of leukemia stem cells that protects those cells from elimination by the patient’s own immune system. They call this protein a “don’t eat me” signal. They will create an antibody therapy that blocks that protein and makes the leukemia stem cell available to be attacked and destroyed by the immune system.

CIRM Grants Targeting Leukemia

Researcher name Institution Grant Title Approved funds
Emmanuelle Passegue University of California, San Francisco Mechanisms Underlying the Responses of Normal and Cancer Stem Cells to Environmental and Therapeutic Insults $2,124,488
Chong-Xian Pan University of California, Davis Combinatorial Chemistry Approaches to Develop LIgands against Leukemia Stem Cells $2,386,409
Catriona Jamieson University of California, San Diego Preclinical development of a pan Bcl2 inhibitor for cancer stem cell directed therapy $3,103,041
Markus Muschen University of California, San Francisco Dual targeting of tyrosine kinase and BCL6 signaling for leukemia stem cell eradication $3,607,305
Michael Cleary Stanford University Prostaglandin pathway regulation of self-renwal in hematopoietic and leukemia stem cells $1,244,455
Ann Zovein University of California, San Francisco Human endothelial reprogramming for hematopoietic stem cell therapy. $2,319,784
Dennis Carson University of California, San Diego Development of Highly Active Anti-Leukemia Stem Cell Therapy (HALT) $19,999,826
Irving Weissman Stanford University Development of Therapeutic Antibodies Targeting Human Acute Myeloid Leukemia Stem Cells $18,759,276
Catriona Jamieson University of California, San Diego Derivation and Characterization of Cancer Stem Cells from Human ES Cells $616,305
Catriona Jamieson University of California, San Diego Derivation and Characterization of Myeloproliferative Disorder Stem Cells from Human ES Cells $3,065,572
Gay Crooks University of California, Los Angeles Forming the Hematopoietic Niche from Human Pluripotent Stem Cells $1,252,857
Mehrdad Abedi University of California, Davis RUNNING TITLE: Stem Cell Gene Therapy for HIV in AIDS Lymphoma Patients $66,880

CIRM Leukemia Videos

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