Cancer

12 August 2008

Breakthrough in leukaemia fight

Scientists said they had mapped a blood cell structure which could hold the key to improved drug treatments for diseases such as leukaemia, asthma and rheumatoid arthritis.

0
Australian scientists said Monday they had mapped a blood cell structure which could hold the key to improved drug treatments for diseases such as leukaemia, asthma and rheumatoid arthritis.

The researchers said they have created the first three-dimensional image of a protein receptor in white blood cells which, when malfunctioning, can cause leukaemia.

"It's called a receptor because it interacts with a hormone... in this case a hormone called GM-CSF," said Professor Michael Parker.

Parker, from St Vincent's Institute in Melbourne, said in certain types of diseases such as leukaemia, something goes wrong with the receptor.

"And when that happens, it can cause uncontrolled growth and that's what cancer is about," he told AFP.

Easier to identified abnormal cells
He said because the new research shows precisely what the receptor looks like and also how it works, scientists can begin to design new drugs to target the deadly abnormal blood cells.

"At the moment, many leukaemias are treated with chemotherapy that destroys the diseased blood cells and bone marrow, as well as normal cells," he said.

"We hope that this discovery will lead to targeted therapies, more specific to the malfunctioning cells seen in diseases such as leukaemia."

Parker said this particular protein receptor had been involved in some of the most aggressive and deadly forms of leukaemia.

"I think that's a real positive of this work, it could target those (diseases) that are just untreatable at the moment, or very difficult to treat," he said.

The research, published in the science journal Cell, was a collaboration between researchers at St Vincent's Institute and the Hanson Institute in Adelaide. – (Sapa-AFP)

Read more:
Playgroups cut leukaemia
Leukaemia

August 2008

 

Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Ask the Expert

Cancer expert

CANSA’s purpose is to lead the fight against cancer in South Africa. Its mission is to be the preferred non-profit organisation that enables research, educates the public and provides support to all people affected by cancer. Questions are answered by CANSA’s Head of Health Professor Michael Herbst and Head of Advocacy Magdalene Seguin. For more information, visit cansa.org.za.

Still have a question?

Get free advice from our panel of experts

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

* You must accept our condition

Forum Rules