A Genetic Attack on Leukemia
Every day, as children in the Riley Cancer Center fight to get well, a team of Riley physician scientists is just steps away, searching tirelessly for cures. Rapid improvements in genetic sequencing have changed the game for cancer investigators at the Wells Center for Pediatric Research.
With support from Riley Children’s Foundation donors and NIH grants, Wells Center investigator Reuben Kapur, Ph.D., and his Hematologic Malignancies research team have identified proteins that appear crucial to the development (and patient relapse) of acute myeloid leukemia (AML), one of the deadliest forms of pediatric cancer. The team’s studies have also shown they can block the development of leukemia by targeting those proteins.
Dr. Kapur says AML patients at Riley Hospital are now routinely going through genetic sequencing so doctors can pinpoint their unique combinations of DNA mutations. “We’re at the stage where we’re still trying to identify what these mutations are, what they do to the cell, and how they contribute to leukemia,” he explains. “We don’t have therapies yet that can target each and every one of these mutations. We’re trying to identify what they are, and then devise ways to block these mutations.”
Dr. Kapur is grateful for donors who invest in his team’s work. He says increased donor support could help his team bring a genetic sequencing facility and a drug manufacturing facility to the Riley campus. “Those are the things that would perhaps speed up the process in terms of finding cures.”
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