Wanted: A Better Way to Fight Leukemia
June 15, 2017
JTA — Israel has the fourth-highest per capita rate of leukemia deaths worldwide. In America, leukemia kills more than 24,000 people per year.
Most leukemia treatments today focus on chemotherapy, steroid drugs and stem-cell transplants. But Ben-Gurion University of the Negev researcher Dr. Roi Gazit is on the hunt for more effective, targeted treatments.
“Immune therapies and stem-cell treatments offer great advantages but too many options to choose from,” Dr. Gazit says. “Our models will help to better specify which treatment may suit a specific type, and even sub-type, of the disease. Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all treatment for leukemia. That’s why we need tailor-made models to fit the treatment to the disease.”
Dr. Gazit is focusing on how to develop targeted treatment of cancer cells using hematopoietic stem cells — stem cells used in cancer treatment because of their ability to divide and form new and different kinds of blood cells. The research involves taking primary cells — cells cultured directly from a subject — and turning them into malignant leukemia growth inside mice. By examining how the leukemia develops, he is exploring ways that hematopoietic stem cells may be deployed to arrest the leukemia.
The research models his lab is using, part of a project supported by the Israel Cancer Research Fund, could help scientists develop more types of immunotherapy and more ways to use stem cells to combat leukemia.
“With any new information we can gain better understanding, which translates into better treatment,” says Dr. Gazit.
(This is an excerpt from an article sponsored by and produced in partnership with the Israel Cancer Research Fund.)