Bolstering fat cells offers new hope for treating blood cancer

November 6, 2017

Drs. Mitchell Sabloff and David Allan contributed to a new study led out of McMaster University that is providing hope for people with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). This kind of cancer grows in the bone marrow and inhibits the production of normal blood cells, often leading to anemia, infections and death.

The research team discovered that fat cells play a key role in normal blood regeneration, but this is disrupted in AML. They also transplanted human AML cells into mice and treated them with small molecules that boost bone marrow fat. This supressed the cancer and stimulated healthy blood regeneration at the same time. One of the molecules they tested is already being used in clinical trials for other conditions, providing hope that human AML trials could begin relatively quickly.

See media release or Nature Cell Biology for details. The Ottawa Hospital Leukemia Program is continuing to contribute to this and other translational research.

“This research was possible because people with cancer, including many patients at The Ottawa Hospital, agreed to donate their tissue for research,” said Drs. Sabloff and Allan, both hematologists and researchers at The Ottawa Hospital and the University of Ottawa. “We are deeply grateful for their contributions.”

Authors: Boyd AL, Reid JC, Salci KR, Aslostovar L, Benoit YD, Shapovalova Z, Nakanishi M, Porras DP, Almakadi M, Campbell CJV, Jackson MF, Ross CA, Foley R, Leber B, Allan DS, Sabloff M, Xenocostas A, Collins TJ, Bhatia M.

Funders: All research at The Ottawa Hospital is supported by generous donations to the hospital. This study was also supported by the Canadian Cancer Society and the Marta and Owen Boris Foundation, as well as locally by The Ottawa Hospital Department of Medicine and the Joan Sealy Trust.

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