A New Drug Developed by Hebrew University Researchers Blocks Leukemia’s Progression

Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a cancer with a dismal mortality rate in both adults and children, even after aggressive and side-effect-ridden therapies are introduced to treat it. The cancer typically forces the bone marrow tissue in the body to form malignant cells instead of the red and white blood cells needed for healthy function. Existing treatments have a notoriously low long-term efficacy, and no alternatives have been introduced in nearly half a century. In a recent study published in Cell, a scientific journal, the researchers at Hebrew University School of Medicine – IMRIC Immunology and Cancer Research discovered that remission occurs because the cancer reroutes its activity to other cells upon disruption by chemotherapy. As a result, the team was able to develop a new drug that destroys several cancerous proteins at once, thus denying cancer cells the ability to find alternative paths available for attack. Successful initial tests on mice inspired a lot of hope that a new therapy is underway, but kinks such as why half of the rodents suffered a relapse of the cancer need to be worked out. U.S. bio-pharmaceutical company BioTheryX, which specializes in treatments for immune system disorders, has joined the Hebrew University team to further develop this new drug through clinical trials.