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Targeting AML that’s not responding to treatment

Some changes in genes can make diseases like AML more difficult to treat. Professor Elaine Dzierzak is studying one of these changes in the hope of being able to find new ways to treat the disease.

The challenge

Blood stem cells are cells that can make all the different types of blood cells found in our body. Acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) can develop when genetic changes occur to a blood stem cell and when this happens, instead of producing healthy blood cells, the AML stem cell produces cancerous cells. There are many different genetic changes that cause and drive AML. This means that not everyone will respond in the same way to the same treatment.

The project

Professor Elaine Dzierzak and her team are looking at a change in a gene in AML which is thought to make the disease more difficult to treat. It’s thought that this change causes an increase in the level of a protein called GPR56 and the role of this protein in AML is unknown. The team want to understand what this protein does is in healthy blood stem cells and see what its role is in AML.

The future

Depending on the results of this study, the team may find new targets for treatment in AML. This is particularly important for people with forms of the disease that are difficult to treat, giving everyone the best possible chance of survival.