IU researcher developing new pediatric leukemia therapies

March 18, 2024
Pediatric leukemia affects approximately 4,000 children each year in the United States, and the incidence of the disease is steadily increasing year after year.

Reuben Kapur, director of the Herman B Wells Center for Pediatric Research at the Indiana University School of Medicine, is working to discover new treatments for pediatric leukemia that will improve patient care. He is seeking industry partners to take his research further.

To better understand the mechanisms behind difficult-to-treat pediatric leukemias such as acute myeloid leukemia and juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia, Kapur’s lab is studying how blood stem cells become altered as a result of acquiring mutations, a process which causes the cells to become leukemic.

Stem cell transplantation is critical to the treatment of leukemic cancers. To enhance the clinical efficacy of that process, Kapur and his team have identified new drugs for improving the homing capabilities of hematopoietic cells.

During hematopoietic cell transplantations, patients are given high doses of either chemotherapy or radiation to kill cancerous cells. However, healthy stem cells in the bone marrow are often destroyed, and patients must replenish their healthy stem cells through transplantations. Unfortunately, the process of transplantation is highly inefficient because the migration of stem cells back to their home in bone marrow is low during these treatments.

To improve the process, Kapur transiently exposed stem cells from human cord blood to drugs and then washed off the drugs. This allowed him to transplant the cells which resulted in improved restoration of human blood system.

Indiana University release on Newswise

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