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Finding ways to target the roots of AML

Researchers want to develop new treatments which target cancerous blood stem cells, cells which are responsible for making many blood cells in the body. Professor Kamil Kranc wants to learn more about how we can prevent blood stem cells from turning cancerous.

The challenge

Blood stem cells live in the bone marrow which is the softy spongy layer found inside bones. These stem cells produce all blood cells found in our body. In blood cancers such as acute myeloid leukaemia (AML), healthy stem cells get damaged and become cancerous and these cancerous stem cells then make a continual stream of leukaemia cells. Most treatments can kill the bulk of leukaemia cells, but are unable to kill the stem cells, which can cause AML to return after treatment.

The project

Professor Kamil Kranc and his team want to know more about how AML stem cells work, so they can find ways to destroy them. Professor Kranc’s previous research has shown that there are a group of proteins which protect healthy blood stem cells and prevents them from turning cancerous and the team want to investigate this further.

The future

Understanding more about the proteins which prevent stem cells turning cancerous could lead to new treatments for AML that work by killing off the AML stem cells, stopping the cancer at its source.