Published on February 13, 2014 at 1:17 PM
The story showed striking results on laboratory animals and human leukemia cells but is still a long way from being transposed into the clinic. "The next step will be to develop a small-molecule inhibitor to successfully block Brg1 function in leukemia, thus demonstrating the clinical relevance of this discovery", states Guy Sauvageau, chief executive officer and principal investigator at IRIC as well as clinical hematologist at the H-pital Maisonneuve-Rosemont and co-author in this study.
The group is now performing experiments to identify such drugs that can disarm the Brg1 gene, thereby stopping leukemia stem cells from generating malignant cells.
Cancer stem cells appear to be more resistant to radiotherapy and chemotherapy than the 'bulk' of the tumor and therefore, are often responsible for cancer relapse. As such, inhibiting residual leukemia stem cells from dividing is the key to obtain irreversible impairment of tumor growth and long-term remission in patients. "Our recent studies identified the gene Brg1 as a regulator that governs the self-renewal, proliferative and survival capacity of leukemia stem cells. Therefore, targeting the Brg1 gene in leukemia stem cells may offer new therapeutic opportunities by preventing the disease from coming back", Lessard concludes.
Source: University of Montreal