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City of Hope scientists destroy leukemia stem cells

Scientists at City of Hope, one of the largest cancer research and treatment organizations in the United States, have devised an innovative approach to target and destroy hard-to-kill leukemia stem cells. The journal Blood published the preclinical findings today. By overcoming challenges, such as drug resistance and treatment relapse common to patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML), the therapy method could provide a less toxic and more effective approach for older and sicker patients who don’t quality for stem cell transplants — currently the only cure for AML available. Type II interferon (IFNy), a substance produced by immune cells, disrupts the leukemia stem cells’ ability to divide and spread cancer. However, IFNy also stimulates CD38, a protein that suppresses the immune cells’ ability to mount a response against infection. To overcome this challenge, the researchers designed a T cell engager antibody called CD38-BIONIC that creates a bridge between the T cells and the leukemia stem cells expressing CD38, enabling the immune system to kill off the cancer cells. Equally important, the approach did not damage healthy early blood stem cells or immune cells in human tissue or AML mouse models.

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