University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center Researchers Awarded Grant To Fight Leukemia Recurrence

September 01, 1998

LEXINGTON, KY (Sept. 1, 1998) - Imagine sparing leukemia patients a second round of chemotherapy. That's what University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center researchers hope to do with a three-year, $321,459 grant from the Leukemia Society of America. Craig Jordan, Ph.D., assistant professor of medicine, UK College of Medicine, and John Yanelli, Ph.D., associate professor of internal medicine, UK College of Medicine, will use the money to design gene therapy-based treatments to help leukemia patients avoid recurrence of the disease.

Despite recent advances in treatment, cancer recurrence remains a long-term problem. Cancer cells often travel throughout the body, thus, some malignant cells may escape chemical or surgical removal. To tackle this problem, Jordan and Yanelli have devised a method to prevent relapse by allowing the patient's immune system to "mop up" residual tumor cells in the bloodstream. It's based on a promising technique called immunotherapy. Used to treat other cancer types, immunotherapy targets immune cells to attack a disease.

"We're going to educate the immune system in the lab," Jordan said. "We've invented a new technology to genetically change the tumor cell."

The researchers plan to extract tumor cells from a patient, culture them, and then using a virus as a transfer agent, will introduce human genes into the cell. The genes are selected for their ability to generate an immune response toward cancer cells.

The cultured cells then would be crippled by radiation - the cells will not die, but will lose the ability to reproduce. After patients complete a standard regime of chemotherapy, the irradiated tumor cells will be reinfused into their body.

Researchers hope the genetically engineered cells will rev up the patient's immune system to seek and destroy any remaining cancer cells.

The procedure should be almost completely nontoxic, Jordan said. It would eliminate a second round of chemotherapy for patients, reduce their exposure to toxic compounds and decrease the number of days that they're sick.

"Ever since doctors began treating cancer, there's been a basic strategy - that's giving people a very toxic drug that's more toxic to cancer cells than normal cells," Jordan said. "They are absolutely married to the fact that they're going to make people sick, so anything we can do that represents a new approach, we find appealing."
-end-


University of Kentucky Medical Center

Related Immune System Articles from Brightsurf:

How the immune system remembers viruses
For a person to acquire immunity to a disease, T cells must develop into memory cells after contact with the pathogen.

How does the immune system develop in the first days of life?
Researchers highlight the anti-inflammatory response taking place after birth and designed to shield the newborn from infection.

Memory training for the immune system
The immune system will memorize the pathogen after an infection and can therefore react promptly after reinfection with the same pathogen.

Immune system may have another job -- combatting depression
An inflammatory autoimmune response within the central nervous system similar to one linked to neurodegenerative diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS) has also been found in the spinal fluid of healthy people, according to a new Yale-led study comparing immune system cells in the spinal fluid of MS patients and healthy subjects.

COVID-19: Immune system derails
Contrary to what has been generally assumed so far, a severe course of COVID-19 does not solely result in a strong immune reaction - rather, the immune response is caught in a continuous loop of activation and inhibition.

Immune cell steroids help tumours suppress the immune system, offering new drug targets
Tumours found to evade the immune system by telling immune cells to produce immunosuppressive steroids.

Immune system -- Knocked off balance
Instead of protecting us, the immune system can sometimes go awry, as in the case of autoimmune diseases and allergies.

Too much salt weakens the immune system
A high-salt diet is not only bad for one's blood pressure, but also for the immune system.

Parkinson's and the immune system
Mutations in the Parkin gene are a common cause of hereditary forms of Parkinson's disease.

How an immune system regulator shifts the balance of immune cells
Researchers have provided new insight on the role of cyclic AMP (cAMP) in regulating the immune response.

Read More: Immune System News and Immune System Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.