Explained: American Researchers Find New Method to Treat Blood Cancer

Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML) is a cancer of the white blood cells (WBC), for which there are still only a few effective treatments. However, researchers have discovered that AML cells depend on a protein called SCP4 to survive. Professor Christopher Vakoc and Sofya Polyanskaya, a graduate student, from America’s CSHL (Cold Spring Laboratory) have found a new therapeutic approach to the disease.

SCP4 is a type of protein that regulates the activities of cells by eliminating phosphate from other proteins. However, a different kind of protein, kinase, holds the phosphate back. The number of phosphates added or subtracted from a protein (phosphorylation level) determines its activities.

Sofya Polyanskaya discovered that SCP4 binds to one or two of its kind kinases, known as STK35 and PDIK1L. Hence, it becomes necessary for phosphate and kinase to attach for AML cells to survive. In such a situation, if the gene that produces SCP4 is inactivated, cancer cells can be killed.

What is Leukaemia?

Blood cell cancer is also called leukaemia. Blood cells have broad categories, including WBCs (white blood cells), platelets, and RBCs (red blood cells). According to WebMD, Leukaemia usually refers to white blood cell cancer.

WBCs protect the body from invading viruses, fungi and bacteria but cannot do their job when they are affected by leukaemia.

Leukaemia can be chronic or acute in onset. Cancer cells multiply rapidly in acute leukaemia. In the case of chronic leukaemia, the disease progresses slowly, and the initial symptoms can be pretty mild.

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