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Protein Signature Discovery Gives Hope for More Effective Leukemia Treatment

/ June 13, 2017 /

Recent research has made a breakthrough in the treatment of leukemia. Leukemia is cancer that develops in the blood cells. The body produces abnormal and immature white blood cells, which affect the production of normal blood cells. Since white blood cells, also known as leukocytes, protect the body against infection, this anomaly in the cells weakens the immune system. The body is vulnerable to diseases and a person with leukemia is easily affected by even a slight cold.

Studies show that the activation of STAT5 proteins in the body has a major impact on the increase of leukemia cells. This finding is crucial in minimising the effects of leukemia. Using this, medical researchers can develop drugs that limit the activation of STAT5. This also allows researchers to have a better grasp on diagnosing leukemia in its initial stages.

What is STAT5?

STAT5 is a duo of proteins that plays an important role in cell growth, metabolism, and other such processes. The two proteins, STAT5A and STAT5B, are activated by an enzyme called kinases. Once STAT5 is activated, it plays a crucial role in the development and functioning of lymphocytes. The protein controls cell growth, division, and changes, as well as manages their inflammation. It essentially maintains normal immune function and homeostasis.

But despite the many advantages it has on our body, STAT5, when activated for too long, causes the development of cancerous cells. Divergent and abnormal cells lead to a constant activation of the proteins, resulting in a lack of control. The cancerous tissues are thus, free to multiply and since these cells persist, the cancer present in the body becomes malignant.

A Milestone in Tumor Sequencing

Researchers are working on customising cancer treatment, according to how the disease affects each person. Tumour sequencing identifies the DNA and RNA structure of cancer cells. Medical experts can document and apply this research on patients even before the cancerous tissues develop. Since cancer develops in each person differently, this genetic profiling allows doctors to make more accurate and effective treatment plans based on each patient’s condition.

Doctors can understand what chemicals affect their patients more and identify areas that need attention instead of treating the entire body. Patients who are at risk can be treated quickly and doctors can even catch relapse of leukemia before it develops. Eventually, leukemia patients will be treated before they cross the painful threshold of stage 4 cancer. Such discoveries advance our goal to increase life expectancy.

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