HSCI researchers target chemotherapy-resistant leukemia by using metabolism
Blood cancers like leukemia can be effectively treated with chemotherapy, but relapse usually occurs, due to resistant cancer cells that evade the original drug regimen.
Researchers led by Harvard Stem Cell Institute Co-Director David Scadden, M.D., identified a unique characteristic of resistant cancer cells: a temporary change in metabolism, or how they use nutrients. The findings pave the way for using drugs to target the metabolic pathway at a specific timepoint and eliminate resistant cells.
“In the cancer field, we usually think about resistance as a concept linked to permanent genetic changes. Our findings show that there are other mechanisms contributing to why some cells survive chemotherapy and others do not — the nutrients they have in their microenvironment and how they use them might matter just as much as the genetic background,” said Scadden.