New Path to Fight Acute Myeloid Leukemia

Acute myeloid leukemia target found in CDK1 pathway

(RxWiki News) Leukemia is a disease of the blood cells. Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is seen as an explosion of cancer cells in the bone marrow.

Targeting and blocking the activity of a newly discovered signaling pathway known as cyclin dependent kinase 1 (CDK1) may improve the treatment of people living with a particular type of AML.

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Physician scientists at Harvard University, led by Daniel Tenen, MD, director of the Blood Program of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, made the discovery.

Scientists know that the so-called FLT3 receptor is a common mutation in AML, occurring in 20-30 percent of patients. Its presence complicates the outlook.

These mutations are believed to switch on several signaling pathways that are involved in cancer development.

In a recent study, the researchers found that CDK1 is active in leukemias with the FLT3 mutation. Blocking its activity helps to treat AML.

Two available FLT3 inhitibors are sold under the brand names Sutent (sunitinib) and Nexavar (sorafenib). Clinical trials testing new CDK1 inhibitors are also currently under way.

Based on this study data, researchers suggest that drug therapies targeting the CDK1 pathway could be effective in treating AML with FLT3 mutations.

The researchers further conclude that this approach may be especially helpful for patients who are resistant to drugs that block FLT3.

An article on this research was published July 16 in The Journal of Clinical Investigation.

This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health.

The authors have declared that no conflict of interest exists.

Review Date: 
July 19, 2012