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NCI Cancer Center News

Temple scientists target DNA repair to eradicate leukemia stem cells

  • Posted: December 10, 2012

Despite treatment with imatinib, a successful drug that targets chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), a deadly type of cancer, some patients may continue to be at risk for relapse because a tiny pool of stem cells is resistant to treatment and may even accumulate additional genetic aberrations, eventually leading to disease progression and relapse. These leukemia stem cells are full of genetic errors, loaded with potentially lethal breaks in DNA, and are in a state of constant self-repair. Now, scientists at Temple University School of Medicine (home to the Fox Chase Cancer Center) may have figured out a way to corral this stem cell activity and stunt further cancer development. In a series of experiments in mice with cancer and in cancer cells, they have shown that they can block the process by which leukemia stem cells repair themselves by targeting a particular protein, RAD52, which the cells depend on to fix genetic mistakes. The findings may lead to a new strategy to help overcome drug resistance that hinges on cancer stem cells gone awry.

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