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.
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
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.
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
CIRM Leukemia Videos
News and Information
- CIRMResearch Blog entries on cancer research progress
- Leukemia under the microscope (San Diego Union Tribune)
- Bad Seeds: Cancer's Ultimate Source (Stanford Medicine)
- The True Seeds of Cancer (Stanford Medicine)
- From Bench to Bedside in a Year (UC San Diego)
- Living with Leukemia: Theresa Blanda (CIRM)