Rice University and UT-MD Anderson Cancer Center researchers discover new leukemia-killing compounds

HOUSTON – Houston-area researchers say they’ve discovered a potential new drug that will deliver a “death punch” against leukemia.

According to a press release, researchers from Rice University and the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center said that although the potential drugs are still years away from being clinically tested, their recent study highlights the innovative methods that led to the discovery.

“In previous studies, the research groups of the biochemist Rice Natasha Kirienko and physician-scientist MD Anderson Marina Konopleva screened some 45,000 small molecule compounds to find a few that targeted mitochondria,” the statement explains. “In the new study, they chose eight of the most promising compounds, identified between five and 30 closely related analogs for each, and performed tens of thousands of tests to systematically determine each analog’s toxicity to leukemia cells, at the times when given alone or in combination with existing chemotherapeutic agents such as doxorubicin.

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Currently, the compound is being tested through a state-of-the-art technique called patient-derived xenograft (PDX), also known as a “mouse clinical trial,” where mice will be implanted with leukemia cells before being exposed to them. drugs.

“Although this is very promising, we are still a long way from having a new treatment that we can use in the clinic,” Kirienko added. “We still have a lot to discover. For example, we need to better understand how drugs work in cells. We need to refine the dose that we think is best, and perhaps most importantly, we need to test on a wide variety of AML cancers. AML has many variations, and we need to know which patients are most likely to benefit from this treatment and which are not. Only after doing this work, which may take a few years, can we begin testing in humans.

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