Scientists use protein-blocker to stop the spread of leukaemia
This is awesome.
Acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) is one of the most aggressive and damaging types of cancer there is: it appears without much warning and the five-year survival rate for sufferers is just 24 percent. However, improved treatments could soon be on the way, as researchers from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne, Australia have identified a protein that’s crucial to the spread of the blood cancer.
The protein in question is called the Hhex protein, and by cutting off its production, the team has shown the cancer can be stopped in its tracks - in laboratory conditions, at least. The next step is to see whether the same ‘handbrake’ mechanism would work in humans, but the initial signs are promising.
The researchers found that when the Hhex supply was cut off, the leukaemia stopped spreading uncontrollably. What’s more, the protein isn’t required in healthy blood cells, which opens the door for treatments that target Hhex specifically without the unwanted and typically very damaging side-effects that come with existing AML treatments.