CIRM funds many projects seeking to better understand leukemia and to translate those discoveries into new therapies.
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)
- NIH: Leukemia information
- Find a clinical trial near you: NIH Clinical Trials database
- Leukemia and Lymphoma Society
- Leukemia Research Foundation
- Stem Cell Network blood cancers page
- Family Caregiver Alliance
- National Family Caregivers Association